(No Longer Thinking Out Loud)
From the middle of March I began reflecting on the Passover and embarked upon a project of writing an article with insights into the Christian, i.e. the anointed ones’, perspective and application of the Passover message.
However, as the Passover /Easter celebration approached, I admit that I was completely distracted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Although “completely distracted”, I still could not ignore the fact that the very essence of the Passover message is that when God sent the plagues on Pharaoh and Egypt, the destroying angel passed over the firstborn of Israel.
I wrote a series of prayerful considerations over the coronavirus lockdown period, the lengthy discourse, which I called, “Thinking Out Loud” see https://thenewhumanityproject.org/thinking-out-loud/, – referred to as “thinking out loud”, because I invited other Christians to participate in what I was sharing and to influence my thinking with their own wisdom and insight.
However, this document is written with boldness. I am not thinking to myself, nor “thinking out loud” by sharing my ideas and insights in this article, (it is a culmination of having “thought out loud”), but now I am boldly proclaiming the good news and heralding the coming of the Messiah to those who will respond in faithfulness.
But also, I am warning of the gloomy, bad news and prophecies of doom for those who pretend to be anointed with the Holy Spirit, but who are unfaithful, neglectful and still intent on pleasing the sinful nature. Woe to you, hypocrites!
But Who was or were the Firstborn of Israel?
Remember, Jacob’s actual first born son, joined with his other brothers in their evil plot to kill Joseph. Furthermore, after the Israelite people had been miraculously delivered from Egypt, apart from two faithful men, that entire generation perished in the wilderness and did not enter the promised land on account of their unfaithfulness.
What is the application for those who claim to be anointed ones, disciples of Jesus the Messiah, but who do not really stand upon genuine faithfulness? They will perish in their unfaithfulness and ironically, many of them will fall away and join the rebellion against God and his redeemed people and they will also oppose those who are genuinely faithful – just as the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and wanted to rather return to their miserable bondage in Egypt.
For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers and sisters, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered in the wilderness.
Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry.” We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. We should not test Christ, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. And do not grumble, as some of them did —and were killed by the destroying angel.
These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it (1 Corinthians 10:1-13).
Who alone is the Firstborn and who is the Destroying Angel?
These are probably the most vital questions confronting the faithful anointed ones of God who will need to fully grasp the significance of the Passover message in order to be fully protected under the blood of the Passover Lamb. And without “beating about the bush”, make no mistake that Jesus is the Passover Lamb and only the faithful will indeed find protection under his blood – but perhaps not in the manner which the unfaithful may suppose.
To answer the first part of this question, Jesus, the Passover Lamb who was crucified and raised again to life, is also the one and only firstborn of God. Every human being who has ever been born since Adam and Eve, have been begotten, or fathered by mere mortal human fathers. But Jesus is the only begotten son of God who is Spirit – and through Jesus having been begotten by God, he became the exact representation of God in the flesh for he was filled with the Holy Spirit and everything he said and did was in perfect accord with the will and purpose of his heavenly Father.
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So he became as much superior to the angels as the name he has inherited is superior to theirs (Hebrews 1:3-4).
There are millions of professing Christians who believe that they are being faithful to the God of Israel by giving their allegiance to the rebellion. In giving their allegiance to the rebellion, they are not of the faithful assembly of the firstborn. These professing Christians have made it a fundamental requirement of their misplaced faith, to give their loyal support and allegiance to the present Jewish state and to the earthly city of Jerusalem, which is now figuratively called Sodom and Egypt due its sin of rebellion and its utter unfaithful through which it rejects God’s only firstborn while itself claiming to be Israel.
When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”
So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son” (Matthew 2:13-15).
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them (Hosea 11:1-3).
Who, in Hosea’s prophecy, quoted by Matthew, is God’s faithful son? It is Jesus the King who corporately represents the redeemed Israel of God. In the very same prophecy it also says, but the more they were called, the more they went astray from the Lord. They who went astray from the Lord in the complete unfaithfulness are not the assembly of the firstborn Son of God. They are like their forefather, unfaithful and who grumbled against Moses. If they perished in the wilderness because they grumbled against Moses, how much more so will they not enter the heavenly city and country prepared for the righteous if they rebel against the only firstborn son of God. Woe also to the professing Christians who join their rebellion, they shall not escape the destroying angel!
Fear the Lord and the King, my son, and do not join with rebellious officials, for those two will send sudden destruction on them, and who knows what calamities they can bring? (Proverbs 24:21-22).
Who is the firstborn, the only begotten Son of God who has been anointed and crowned and who sits as the reigning King at the Right Hand of God? It is none other than Jesus the Messiah, the King of all kings. And who are the rebellious officials? They are those of Israel who join the rulers of the nations in their futile plotting against God’s Anointed One – and who try to take hold of the land and the promises made to Abraham while stubbornly resisting the Holy Spirit. And who are those who join with the rebellious officials? Those who profess to believe in the King of kings but who support Zionism in their quest to build a so-called “Jewish State” which rejects the Messiah. Woe to you! Who are the faithful assembly of the one and only firstborn? It is the assembly of the Anointed Ones who are not looking back to Sodom and Egypt. The earthly city of Jerusalem is figuratively Sodom and Egypt! The faithful are looking for a heavenly country where none of the wicked nor unfaithful will enter.
But [the faithful anointed ones] you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised,
“Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken —that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:22-29).
We have boldly and emphatically affirmed that Jesus the Messiah is the only, begotten Son of God and the firstborn of Israel and the assembly of the firstborn are those who remain faithful to Jesus and who do not join with the rebellious officials and rulers of the world who plot against God’s holy and Anointed One. But who is the destroying angel and how will he be made to pass over the faithful who have found refuge and protection under the blood of the Lamb?
Who is the Destroyer?
Who is the destroying angel and who is the angel, or messenger, of the Lord who has control over life and death?
The lessons from Daniel are that the rulers of the world may indeed and at expedient times, seek the counsel and wisdom of God but that does testify to their faithfulness and they cannot really discern between the true God and the god of this world who masquerades as God. The one who seems to be the destroyer of human life in the flesh will use his power and authority to force people, great and small, to bow down and worship him lest his fury rise against them and they be killed.
Then the herald loudly proclaimed, “Nations and peoples of every language, this is what you are commanded to do: As soon as you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, you must fall down and worship the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar has set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace.”
Therefore, as soon as they heard the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music, all the nations and peoples of every language fell down and worshiped the image of gold that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
At this time some astrologers came forward and denounced the Jews. They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “May the king live forever! Your Majesty has issued a decree that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music must fall down and worship the image of gold, and that whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into a blazing furnace. But there are some Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon—Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego —who pay no attention to you, Your Majesty. They neither serve your gods nor worship the image of gold you have set up” (Daniel 3:4-12).
Whoever finds and tries to protect their wretched life in the flesh and who fears death, will bow down before the god of this age because he holds them in bondage on account of their sin and their fear of death. Indeed, he exerts his authority as the one who can spare your life or he threatens to have you killed.
However, the only Firstborn Son of God came to pay the ransom on behalf of all those who were held captive in their sin and on account of their fear of death. Perhaps many do not have the faith of Daniel who would have preferred to have been thrown into the furnace by the destroyer of human flesh than to be unfaithful to the Father of the spirit of humanity. But where we may have been weak in our faith on account of our sin and fear of death, our King and Saviour tasted death for each one of us to set us free from sin and to remove our fear of death by his having been raised to life and exalted to the highest throne in heaven. The King of kings is the destroyer of the unfaithful while at the very same time being the Saviour and strength of the faithful.
“The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for students to be like their teachers, and servants like their masters. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebul, how much more the members of his household!
“So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.
“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword (Matthew 10:24-34).
Do not fear the death of this body of flesh. The death of the righteous is very precious in the sight of the Lord, but those who shrink back on account of fear or unfaithfulness should repent and seek strength from the Holy Spirit, because the love of the present world and compromise with the rulers of this world is as adultery and idolatry.
But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.
In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. He says,
“I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises.”
And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil — and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but
Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted (Hebrews 2:11-18).
The destroyer of sinful human flesh is not to be feared. However, he has a double agenda, he will threaten people with death if he needs to to force them to bow down and worship him and he will also kill those who are prepared to remain faithful to Jesus even to the point of death. This is strange because it means that the first destroyer may not actually pass over the faithful – just like Jesus, the firstborn was killed at the hands of evil men. However, neither will the destroyer pass over those who refuse to worship him for whatever reason. People will indeed die of plagues and disease – or they may die as martyrs, but through death, if they have remained faithful to the Lord, they shall continue to live in the spirit because the sting of death has been removed for the faithful. Those who die in their sin, will be raised only to face the more terrifying second death. So, to live or to die, we remain steadfastly faithful to our King and we will not be moved by the fear of death. For to die is gain.
Then I saw a second beast, coming out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb, but it spoke like a dragon. It exercised all the authority of the first beast on its behalf, and made the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose fatal wound had been healed. And it performed great signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to the earth in full view of the people. Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honour of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name.
This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666 (Revelation 13:11-18).
The good news, (first and then the bad news), the good news is that Jesus died in order to set us free from sin which manifests itself in human flesh – through dying with Christ we are set free from this wretched body of sin and raised to a new life by the power of the Holy Spirit even while we continue to live in this body – so that we need have no fear of the destroyer of the flesh.
The bad news, on the other hand, is that no matter how hard one tries to obey even the Law of Moses and attain righteousness, you remain cut off from the glory of God confined to this mortal body of flesh with all its weaknesses. You will not be justified in the flesh. On the contrary, you will be an enemy of God and resent the Anointed Ones who are filled with the Holy Spirit. You will bow down to the god of this world who hold you captive in your sin and in your fear of death for he has the power over you as the destroyer of the flesh – and should you die in your sins and unbelief, you will experience the more terrifying second death at the hand of Him who holds ultimately holds life and death in his hand. Jesus, the firstborn, is the Resurrection and the Life.
But thanks be to God, who always leads us as captives in Christ’s triumphal procession and uses us to spread the aroma of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are to God the pleasing aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are an aroma that brings death; to the other, an aroma that brings life. And who is equal to such a task? Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God (2 Corinthians 2:14-17).
So to repeat: Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
“Prophet of Doom”
After a time of prayer and fasting, – (and firstly, a disclaimer, I am not a prophet) – I have come to the sad, even depressing, conclusion that regardless of the many opinions and conspiracy theories, in spite of the messages of hope and recovery, things are not going to get better, they are going to get worse, – far worse, is yet to come. Let us brace ourselves and pray for strength from the Lord and that we may endure with the perseverance of Job as our faith is put to the test through trials of many kinds.
I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently for the day of calamity to come on the nation invading us. Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Saviour [Jesus’ name means, “God my Saviour”]. The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights (Habakkuk 3:16-19).
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus (Yeshua /Joshua), because he will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:19-21).
Brothers and sisters, as an example of patience in the face of suffering, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy (James 5:10-11).
One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, and the Sabeans attacked and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the heavens and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and made off with them. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”
While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you! ”
At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (Job 1:13-22).
Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you (1 Peter 4:12-14).
Things are going to get worse. Every visible thing that once seemed reasonably secure in this present world is going to be violently shaken, bringing great distress, suffering and uncertainty on humanity on a global scale. Christians will need to be prepared to also share in the suffering as sharing in Christ’s suffering, but with the assurance that:
I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.
We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.
In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters (Romans 8:18-29).
Humanity will be humbled like never before. However, there will still be people who believe they are strong and resilient, who will not buckle under the most severe trials – but will remain strong and determined to cling to the former life with which they had become accustomed. Like the determined “faith” of Israel in the light of “the Holocaust” as they proudly say, “We have risen from the ashes of the Holocaust never to be made to suffer shame, humiliation and defeat ever again!”
However, this is not to be the attitude of the anointed and faithful disciples of Jesus Christ. The Holocaust which we remember and honour is the sacrifice of Jesus through whom we died and are raised to new life in the Spirit. But as we live in the tent of this body of flesh, we are still as sheep being led to be slaughtered (see Romans 8:36), for we have been called to endure the suffering of Christ before we share in his glory. But those who exalt themselves now will be humiliated and thoroughly dashed to pieces.
See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken —that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:25-29).
This is a time of opportunity to comfort those who are in distress and to demonstrate Christian love, compassion and mercy as we prepare to suffer together. However, when people are thoroughly broken down, so too, will they be open to the message of hope and good news concerning the kingdom of God – so let us be humble and bold, broken but not defeated, humanly weak, but fully trusting in God’s strength which is indeed made perfect in our weakness.
You cannot serve God and money so do not fret when the economy of the world crumbles, because money cannot buy love or faith in God. Those who rely on the money will soon mourn.
Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. You have condemned and murdered the innocent one, who was not opposing you. Be patient, then, brothers and sisters, until the Lord’s coming (James 5:1-7).
One last important word: There are many people becoming highly frustrated and impatient with the lockdown and its inevitable damage to the economy. There are even protests of people desperately wanting to re-enter the economy. I will be called a “prophet of doom”, but I suspect that God is going to break the economy even further as he calls his people out of the world system into a wilderness experience where his economy of love and supernatural provision through sharing, will sustain the assembly of the firstborn who are sojourners in this world. So lets not be too eager to get back to conforming to the former pattern of the greedy, consumerist world. Demas regarded himself to be a Christian but in the time of trouble and persecution, he abandoned the apostle Paul and the noble work of the gospel because he loved the world.