Darkness You Can Feel – Exodus 10:21-29

For three days there is darkness in the land of Egypt, even a darkness that can be felt. This corresponds to the “three day journey” that Israel requests to make into the wilderness to sacrifice to the LORD their God. The Egyptians god Ammun Ra was the highest of all the gods. This plague would have been more than devastating to the religious system.

The word for “felt” in Hebrew is more than just a darkness that affects the inward man and hope. This kind of “felt” is the Hebrew word that signifies touch. There is a darkness over the land of Israel that can somehow be touched, and in that manner be felt. The Jewish commentary has somewhat dropped the ball on this, as with most all of the plagues. It attempts with all of its might to push away the emphasis of these plagues. It reasons them out, saying that the plague of darkness was the result of a massive sandstorm that comes every March. Because of the former devastations, this one would have been peculiarly intense.

My contention here is that these plagues are given by God, and even if God uses the natural elements around, that doesn’t then give us the right to word it away as “natural phenomenon”. This isn’t just something that takes place every March. This was a calculated affront to everything the Egypt represents. For this reason, the words of Pharaoh are harsh and direct toward Moses, that if Pharaoh sees Moses’ face again, Moses shall die.

At the beginning of the Bible, there is darkness upon the face of the deep, and the Spirit of God hovers over the waters. From that point onward, God seems to have a positive relationship with darkness. While we know that God is light, and that His Kingdom is the Kingdom of Light, and that Jesus is the Light of the World, and anyone who walks according to the darkness is not truly a follower of God, still we find somehow that God isn’t embarrassed or afraid of the darkness. There is a personification happening here, and darkness itself is an embodiment of something quite tangible.

When we go to Exodus 10:22, we read of this “thick darkness” that covers the land of Egypt. Then, a few chapters later (20:21), we find that God is dwelling in “thick darkness”. It’s the exact same phrase. How is it that the Spirit of God hovers over the darkened waters? How is it that God dwells in the “thick darkness”? How is it that God makes darkness canopies around Him, dark waters and thick clouds of the skies (2 Sam 22:12)?

Darkness itself is a representation of mystery. What I mean is that the power of darkness is found in that it conceals, or hides. God did not eliminate the darkness at the beginning, because God uses the darkness to “hide” Himself in order to fellowship with humanity and His creation. There is a certain sense in which God cannot fellowship with us without this cloaking of darkness, because to see God face-to-face would kill us in our mortality.

But the serpent, who was craftier than any other beast of the field, usurped the darkness, manipulating it into something it was never intended to be. The darkness was simply meant to be a means by which God could fellowship. Satan used it to hide information from the woman, thus deceiving her. There is a manipulation happening here, and therefore our thoughts of darkness have become negative. The original intention of darkness was not something negative at all, though it was separated from light, and though it was kept guarded by “rulers” (Gen 1:16-18).

When we come unto Exodus 10:21, the darkness that can be felt is something altogether an anomaly. It is as though God is taking off the ruse, allowing for Egypt to experience – tangibly enough to even be felt – the exact spiritual state that they are in. They believe themselves to be following the gods of these phenomenon, keeping them satisfied, but ultimately they are worshiping demons. It’s a sad testimony to perceive.

I heard a story of a man who is within a prominent ministry. He had a dream that this ministry was hosting some sort of end-times teaching seminar at the fairgrounds. There were tons of people there, and they were having a great time discussing the subject matter. The people were breaking off after the messages and asking questions, and ultimately it seemed like everything was perfect. It was precisely at this point, during one of the messages, that serpents started raining from the sky and biting people. There was blood and death everywhere. The serpents were consuming the people, and pandemonium ensued. No matter how much the teachers or listeners tried, they could not command in the name of Jesus to get the snakes to cease. They had no authority over these serpents. The speaker then talked about how this dream shows him that he needs to begin to pray that God gives them authority over the serpents for when this happens.

I’m sad to be the one to bear bad news, but the reality is that this dream was not a “future” dream, but a “now” dream. This ministry, with all of its hype, and all of its impressive stature is currently at a place where people think that they are the pinnacle of Charismatic belief. If you want to know what ministry really has it all together, you point to this one. Even those outside of the Charismatic movement find it to be quite impressive. Yet, the truth is, the serpents didn’t “suddenly” start devouring people. The truth is, their eyes were “suddenly” opened, and they saw what was happening. The serpents have been devouring the people for quite some time, which I suppose is why I’ve never been impressed, though it is all the rage and hype within the denomination I was saved in.

The same is true here in Egypt. Yes, this was a physical judgment. Yet, please realize that the judgment was equally an unveiling of the reality that they were in. Egypt was already in this kind of darkness before the physical darkness ever was shown. This is the danger of what we can become. We can be a people who think ourselves to be shining with radiance unto the nations, and thinking that we’re the “light of the world”, and yet ultimately be the very land that dwells in darkness. How is it that you can know whether you are or are not in this kind of state?

I believe the answer to that question lies within something very simple. Pharaoh continues to harden his heart, and continues to refuse to consider what God is demanding. It comes down to this final time, when God Himself hardens the heart of Pharaoh. I think one simple question will answer for me whether you are in this place or whether you are a child of light. Are you willing to read all of the words of Scripture, seeking to understand what it is that God commands, and to simply obey what it says? As soon as your mind jumps to various passages that you think  don’t apply anymore (*cough – Leviticus – cough*), you have forfeited any possibility of not being in this kind of darkness. To refuse to even consider a large portion of God’s word because it is “law”, or it is difficult to understand, or it is boring, or it makes demands that no one can live up to, the game is up, and you are ultimately left without any hope of freedom from this darkness.

I’ve written before somewhat extensively on law and whether we’re supposed to obey it. The lack of our willingness to even consider it, which ultimately leads to the fact that so few even know what Leviticus or Deuteronomy actually says, only shows that we are precisely within the same haze that Egypt was. We have a god named Jesus, who we claim to be the God of the Bible, and yet we care very little about what this god says or requires. It’s a religious idolatry, relinquishing us from responsibility and from psychological condemnation, but it doesn’t actually bring us the freedom from law and sin that we claim to have. It might psychologically relieve our conscience, but that in no way demands that we have truly died with Christ and been raised in power.

The children of Israel were in Goshen, where there was light. Are you?

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Boils – Exodus 9:8-12

This is another plague that we find featured later in the book of Revelation. To help give some reasoning to why these Egyptian plagues continue to recur, I think that what we need to understand is that the plagues of Egypt were not singular, isolated events. What I mean by this is that God speaks to Israel in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 that He shall send these selfsame plagues upon Israel if they are disobedient. So, for example, when you read in Deuteronomy 28:27 that God will sent this exact same plague (boils) upon disobedient Israel, we shouldn’t be surprised.

These are the judgments of God. Upon the false gods of Egypt does God send judgment, but let us not forget that over and over again Israel’s disobedience is due to their forsaking God. It isn’t simply that Israel is disobedient because they don’t keep the kosher diet. Throughout the whole of the Old Testament we have cycle after cycle of Israel casting aside their LORD to embrace other foreign deities. These plagues against Egypt were to speak against the gods of Egypt. The plagues against Israel were to speak against the gods of Israel.

Thus, when we come to Revelation, we need to have this sort of comprehension. Why do we find replicas of the Egyptian plagues in the book of Revelation? It is because Revelation revolves around Israel, not just the land, but the people. Israel is being judged, and specifically the Jerusalem that will embrace an antichrist figure (namely, the beast) over and above her true King.

We’re stuck between the rock and hard place. On one side we see the Egyptian plagues being for the sake of Israel’s deliverance. On the other side, we see the Egyptian plagues repeated in Israel’s history, and even prophesied as coming upon them at the end of the age. If we take this too far, we are liable to expecting that the Jew is simply cursed, and that there is no means of salvation upon them. If we don’t take it seriously enough, we will embrace the modern state of Israel in a manner that the Jew and Israel can do no wrong.

Let us be clear: God has bigger plans than simply plaguing the Egyptians within these passages. Let also be clearer: God has bigger plans than sending judgment upon disobedient Israel. There is never a mention of God desiring to destroy Egypt within the book of Exodus. Instead, there are statements of the Egyptians coming to know Him, Pharaoh coming to know Him, and judgment being sent upon the gods of Egypt. Similarly, the prophets never prophesied destruction of Israel. Instead, they prophesied of a remnant to survive, and that remnant coming to know the LORD their God.

With these boils, we need to be careful how we treat the text. If we simply clap our hands at how far God will go to deliver His people, we do much damage. If it is only analogy, only a spiritual assuaging of the kingdom of darkness, then what significance is there at all? We often place ourselves in the text far too quickly. Israel itself is in the midst of this, watching as the Egyptians are receiving these plagues. At the same time, there is indeed a spiritual phenomenon taking place, and it does indeed have application to us in our present day.

Boils themselves are mentioned as coming upon Job as well. This man was not being judged, and yet Satan buffeted him. Are the boils themselves something that only God sends? No. These boils are so crippling that the magicians can’t even show their faces before Moses. Job despised them and their torment so much that he literally scraped them off of his skin with broken glass and pottery.

What might it be that you and I can find within this? Is there hope? Do you feel sympathy for the Egyptians? Are they mere innocent victims? Why would God say that He is sending judgment upon their gods, and then so ruthlessly affect the people themselves?

It is precisely here that we have a question worth an answer. Why would God inflict the Egyptians if His desire is to inflict the gods of Egypt? When you examine the cultures around the world, the culture is influenced and manipulated by the demonic forces at play behind them. There is an unseen realm, what Paul calls the principalities and powers. To what degree are people given over to those demonic powers, and to what degree are they acting of their own volition? That itself is the question of the mystery of iniquity. Just as the incarnation of Jesus revealed to us the freedom of God to reveal Himself to humanity, and the freedom of humanity to receive that revelation, so it shall be revealed at the end of the age just how manipulated humanity is by those demonic powers, and how much humanity itself has been “depraved”.

These aren’t happy thoughts, but they’re necessary. I’m not sure I have sufficient answers to the questions raised. I only have my own intuition, which is questionable to say the least.

I Will Make A Ransom – Exodus 8:20-32

Within the fourth plague, it begins again with Moses meeting Pharaoh at the river. This is how the first plague commences. Here God begins something new. Now the children of Israel are being distinguished from the Egyptians. The Hebrew wording here is not “to make a distinction”, at least not in the strict English connotation of those words, but rather, “to make a ransom”. God tells Pharaoh that He shall “make a ransom” of Israel, and within that “ransom” is the distinction and deliverance of Israel from this plague. The obvious connotation from this is that if they’re delivered from the plague, they will also be delivered from Egypt.

It is here that we have a quite interesting dialogue. Pharaoh doesn’t seem to assert his authority over God this time. Outside of the fact that Pharaoh is the one who declares, “I will let them go”, you can’t seem to make out much of any notion that Pharaoh is denouncing God’s power, or yawning at such a thing. Whereas from the miracles performed before the first plague unto the previous plague, every time Pharaoh as been unimpressed and unburdened. Previously, the magicians claimed it was the finger of God to perform the third plague. Pharaoh wasn’t phased.

There is the reasoning back and forth, almost like a bartering. Pharaoh tells Moses to sacrifice in the land of Egypt, but Moses says that this will result in Israel being stoned. Many commentaries express that they don’t know why this would be the case. If we simply look at ancient Egyptian religion, we find that the lamb was a sacred animal. Moses knew that God required the lamb to be slaughtered, just like Abel knew before there was the giving of the Law. In the relationship of faith with God, there is something intuited and communicated to the inner man that allows one to know that it requires the sacrifice of the lamb, and not simply of a chicken, pig, or some other animal. Abraham told Isaac that God would provide the LAMB, and not the goat, bull, or deer.

This was a sacred animal to the Egyptians. Therefore, Moses knew they must leave to sacrifice it. I find it interesting, though, that later God will demand of Israel to sacrifice the Passover lamb in Egypt before they leave. Not only does He require this, but then also demands they put the blood on their doorposts for all of Egypt to see!

What begins as Pharaoh attempting to keep Israel within Egypt turns into him suggesting that they can leave, but not very far… Don’t venture three days out; just stay here in the region. This is not what God has said, and therefore there is no deal. The devil does this with us too. You can be a Christian; there is no problem with that. Just don’t start living in a righteous manner. Keep your drinking, your promiscuity, and other acts of the flesh, and you can call yourself whatever you want. When we refuse this, it turns into not going too far. Sure, live righteously. Tell people that sin is wrong, and don’t mince your words. Just don’t start to tell people that the mindsets that they have are wrong. Don’t start living by a different wisdom. Make sure that you keep your job and live by the conventional wisdom of the age. Go into debt, enslave yourself to your occupation and the bank, fill your life with so much that you have no time for prayer or Scripture reading, and then among all the piles of laundry and household chores, you can remind yourself that you’re doing fine because you’re going to church every Sunday and not doing the despicable things.

I just described to you the majority of conventional Christianity in the West.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because Pharaoh will harden his heart and not let you go. You have an advocate with the Father, who is not simply the one who cleanses you from sin and your sacrifice of atonement, but is your Moses who stretches forth His rod and declares, “Let my people go!” It is the rod of iron that Jesus holds. To His people, it is the rod of God, the very rod that brings comfort to the sheep. To Satan and his darkened kingdom, it is the rod of God, the very rod that shall smash in pieces all of his kingdom and all of the nations he has deceived.

This plague is significant because of the discourse that we find here. It’s significance is found in the reality of knowing that God is on our side, and as long as we won’t give up, neither will He. He will plague the darkened kingdom, even sending it into darkness, in order to bring you out into deliverance. To exodus Egypt in this kind of “spiritual” sense is to come out of sin, come out of the false mindsets and attitudes of the world, and to come face-to-face with the living God. It is in that wilderness that Israel heard the voice of God and received the marriage covenant. It is there that we hear our hearts being beckoned, and if you won’t harden your hearts today, as you did in the rebellion, you can enter into that rest.

 

Finger of God – Exodus 8:16-19

Within this passage, Aaron stretches out his rod over the dust of the earth, and the dust becomes lice. For the first two plagues, the magicians could replicate it. Yet, this time, they are without power to do the same miracle. This third plague comes without warrant, that is, without warning. It is because of this that the magicians declare, “This is the finger of God!”

When we turn the Gospel of Luke, we have the exact same phrase repeated. It is the finger of God that the psalmist declares created the heavens and the earth (Ps 8:3). Now this very finger is producing a plague against the Egyptians that is most likely unbearable. Whether we see these insects as gnats, mosquitos, or lice, all three are pests that we all can’t imagine the severity of what it must be to have them swarming in terrifying masses.

In Luke 11, Jesus is being questioned by the Pharisees. They claim that He casts out demons by the prince of demons. Jesus responds by claiming that you must bind the strongman in order to dispossess him. He asks by what means the Pharisees and their sons cast demons out. In between those two statements are the words, “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.”

What is Jesus saying?

He is pointing back to this event, specifically this statement of the magicians, and making the connection that God revealed to the Egyptians that their gods are not gods. It is the God of Israel who is God, and their gods are unable to stand before Him. This statement is more than just to admit that God is real, or that God has worked this. It is an acknowledgement that the gods of Egypt have not been able to do these mighty acts, and that next to this plague, it is obvious that Israel’s God is truly a God indeed.

The demons cannot stand against the power of God. It is through the Spirit of God, according to Matthew 12:28, that Jesus does this. Here it is that we have the finger of God, the Spirit of God, and the Kingdom of God being paralleled with one another. The act that was taking place in Exodus was the establishment of the Kingdom. The act that Jesus is performing is equally an establishing of the Kingdom. To then equate that with the kingdom of darkness is to blaspheme the Spirit, which shall not be forgiven (Matt 12:31-32).

I find this text incredibly interesting. It has a lot of concepts strung together, which makes it difficult to perceive all of the layers. However, there is a lot that is easy to perceive. We see meat to the mature, and milk to the babes.

The Covenant Reaffirmed – Exodus 6:1-13

In Exodus 5, we left off with Pharaoh tormenting the Israelites, and Moses lamenting before God. Here in chapter 6, God is beginning to respond. He affirms to Moses that He shall indeed redeem and give inheritance. In verses 2-3, God even says, “I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name YHWH I was not known to them.” I have heard it said, and seen it written, that this verse is often interpreted that the patriarchs didn’t know the name YHWH.

Here is my contention with that: in Genesis, they address God as “YHWH”. Even within Genesis 2, we find LORD God, YHWH Elohim, and this is only in verse 4. So, if from the very start of human history recorded in Scripture, YHWH is being used, then how can we claim that the patriarchs didn’t know this name? To claim Moses wrote these books doesn’t cut it for me. Instead, I would like to suggest something else.

Associated with the names of deity are their power and character. We have something similar today. When you give someone your word, you are putting forth your reputation and everything that people know of you on that promise. We can even think of sayings like, “smeared his name through the mud”. To smear someone’s name is to smear their reputation, their esteem, through the mud. It isn’t about making their “name” ignominious, but but rather the very person and character.

What I want to posit is that this promise to the patriarchs was based utterly upon God’s character. God promised to Adam and Eve a deliverer (Gen 3:15), He promised to Abram a son who would inherit the land of Canaan (Gen 15:4, 7, 18-21), but He didn’t show them the fulfillment of that promise. In fact, when you get to the book of Hebrews, you find the author saying, “having obtained a good testimony through faith, all these did not receive the promise”. The next verse does not say, “But you…” Instead, it says something  better is presented to us, that together with us they might be made complete.

Unto the patriarchs, God has promised the inheritance of Canaan, which is seen in the Hebraic mind as being the very place where heaven and earth meet. This is the very place where God dwells – a Garden of Eden restored. But, the patriarchs didn’t receive the inheritance. Moses is being told here that God had given them the promise, but didn’t give them inheritance. Therefore, the patriarchs did not experientially know the power and glory of the name of YHWH like God will reveal to Moses and his generation. It is about God’s name, His honor, His power, and His character. It is about an experiential knowledge of that Name.

To trace this thought forward in the narrative, not just unto Sinai, but beyond Sinai, we find that God’s name is repeated throughout Scripture. For example, you have God revealing Himself through His name quite directly to the Hebrew children. They experience His power and majesty in the wilderness, and eventually in the Land itself. Joshua leads Israel to inheriting the Promise. Yet, we then find later that the psalmist declares, “Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known my ways.’ So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest’.” (Psalm 95:7-11)

Let us think this through. The psalmist is not writing about this “today” in the generation of Joshua, who was promised to inherit that rest, but rather centuries after Joshua. The psalmist is writing this while in the land. Somehow, Israel is in the land, inherited the promise, and yet there is a promised rest that if that generation, paralleled with the generation that was killed in the wilderness, will hear God’s voice, they can enter into that promised rest.

It is then the whole point for the rest of the book of Hebrews to show how it is that we haven’t come to the physical promises, but the eternal, which are not separate from the physical, but are interwoven. It is the physical promise that reflects the eternal and heavenly. We have not come unto Sinai, the physical mountain upon which God came down, but unto Zion, the New Jerusalem, which is the throne of God, revealed to us in explicit detail in Revelation 4. It is not Sinai that the prophets envisioned with theophany, in places such as Isaiah 6 or Ezekiel 1-3, but the heavenly Zion.

And so, we see the “better” inheritance that we have, not exclusively as the Church, but together with “them” who are mentioned in Hebrews 11, the saints eternal, they who are called “Israel” by most theologians. There is an connection, then, that cannot (and certainly should not) be severed. It has always been that the prophets perceive beyond the physical and tangible into the spiritual and equally tangible. That is our inheritance as the saints. And, there is an eternal “today”, that if you are willing to humble yourself, ceasing from your own works (namely, righteousness through our own efforts), we can enter into that rest, which from the beginning has been established for all who by faith will enter.

Yet, we cannot conclude that this is the fulfillment. Remember that God put His name upon the physical inheritance – not the spiritual. There must be a physical that is coupled with the spiritual. It is for this reason that we read various texts in the New Testament about the “inheritance” at the end of the age. Jesus promises that His disciples will rule over all Israel upon twelve thrones (Matthew 19:28-29). Paul speaks about we, as Gentile believers even, who shall receive an inheritance with the “redemption of the purchased possession” (Ephesians 1:14). He then further explains what this means in Ephesians 3:1-6, in which he makes the statement that “Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel…”

What is this “body” that is spoken of? It cannot be the Church exclusive, for that would demand a “new” body. The context of Ephesians 3:6 is that this body apparently is already in existence, and hence “same body” instead of “new body”. Don’t quote to me Ephesians 2:14-15, that Christ has made “of the two” “one new man”, and therefore the Church is new and distinct. That isn’t what Paul is saying at all, for only if you skip Ephesians 2:12 can you come to that conclusion. It is because we, even we Gentiles who were aliens and at enmity with God, have been brought near, and made to be partakers of the promise and covenants, being grafted in (to use the language of Romans 11) to the already existent House of Israel. We are not the elite, but the remnant.

Therefore, we know that we have received a spiritual inheritance, even being sealed by the Holy Spirit according to Ephesians 1:13, but that isn’t the fulfillment. It is only the guarantee of the future inheritance at the end of the age, which is not ours exclusively, but unto the whole House of Israel – both the natural and the wild branches. Interestingly to this study, one of the promises to the seven churches in Revelation is that “I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, And I will write on Him My new name.” (Revelation 3:12)

That promise, in the context of what is written to the rest of the seven churches, cannot be understood as the New Heaven and New Earth, but at Jesus’ return. There might be legitimacy to saying that it is fulfilled to the uttermost in the New Heaven and New Earth, but don’t squash the beauty that is presented in that we rule with Christ for 1000 years. When you parallel the statements of Revelation 2-3 and Revelation 20, you find that there are certain things that are doubled.

Notice again Revelation 22:4. Here it is that having the name of God written upon our foreheads is coupled with seeing God face-to-face. There is a revealing of God intimately that cannot take place apart from the judgment that we experience during Tribulation (not judgment as in condemnation, but judgment as being within the nations who are being judged, and within Israel [the people] who are under judgment). Just as Elijah endured the judgment alongside of his fellow Israelites, and just as Joshua and Caleb had to endure forty years before being permitted to enter the land again, so too must we wait for the second coming – after seven years of Tribulation – before we shall see the fulness of our inheritance in Christ.

The blessed hope of Titus 2:13 is not rapture, as I’ve heard so many say. It is the coming of the King, and with Him the Kingdom of God. It is the redemption of Israel, and with them all the nations. It is worldwide peace. It is the obliteration of the kingdom of darkness. It is the inheritance of promise – heaven and earth becoming one. It is the climax of the covenant, the culmination of the ages, unto which we’ve been progressing since “God separated the light from the darkness”. The blessed hope is the longing of every heart, whether we know how to intuit it or not, whether we’re believers or not. It is a Kingdom that is ruled in justice, equity, and righteousness, instead of bureaucracy, greed, and patriotism. To then take that verse out of context completely, simply to hold that we’re not supposed to endure “wrath” (as if that is even what 1 Thess 5:9 means), is to cast down all hope and all eternal weight of glory that might make out suffering and affliction momentary and light.

 

We’re progressing to a climax. The age is crescendoing. It is our opportunity to work with God or to do our own thing. We can either play church, play Christianity, or we can be the saints in our own generation. The hope that God is giving to Moses in this passage is the very blessed hope that is to give us satisfaction and perseverance unto the end.

Let My People Go – Exodus 5

I find it interesting that the chapter opens to Moses and Aaron going to Pharaoh, inquiring that he let the people of Israel go three days journey into the wilderness to have a feast. What is interesting about this is that there God tells Moses that He will deliver Israel, and they shall come back to Sinai and worship the Lord there. When we read later of that journey, it takes 50 days to get there. It causes me to wonder what a three day journey into the wilderness meant.

What I find equally interesting is that Pharaoh’s response  invokes the reaction that God has visited the Israelites, and that they want to harken unto His voice, lest He bring forth curses and plagues upon them. Once again, when we look at what God has said, He has decreed plagues upon Egypt – even declaring that He would take Pharaoh’s firstborn. So, I wonder where this comes from. Why are they appealing to Pharaoh in this manner?

The Pharaoh then responds by enforcing a harsher slavery upon the people. He claims that the reason these people are crying out to their God is because they are idle without anything to do. How ludicrous does this sound to you? They’re in such terrible oppression they can’t do anything but cry out to the Lord, the Lord hears their cry, and now Pharaoh thinks that they’re just lazy. It’s so obviously a mock that it’s almost humorous. Pharaoh can’t be that ignorant.

What happened to the original plan? Wasn’t the plan to go to Pharaoh and show forth the signs, and let him know that God means business? Yet, there is no mention of this, and even with the end of the chapter, you find Moses crying out to God because all that has taken place is worse bondage than before. It is precisely here that my mind questions where the steadfast Moses is that we will come to know and love later? Why is he so manipulated by the people’s jaunts and complaints, and why is he so quick to doubt what the Lord has told him?

I admit that I see this passage as having end time significance. It is a pattern. The people Israel are held in bondage by a Pharaoh that is not simply “pharaoh”. Just as I discussed last time that the political infrastructure called “Egypt” was ruled by the principalities and powers, so too do I claim that the Jerusalem that we currently see, which represents rabbinic Judaism to the uttermost, is a Jerusalem of bondage. The law, as it is so called, is an object of oppression, seizing the one who attempts to live according to it through the flesh, salvation by works.

Yet, it is to that Israel, the one in bondage, the one who doesn’t yet obey the Lord, the one who grumbles and declares, “The Lord judge between us”, that God has called “my people”. He goes to the Moses, who is the deliverer, and He tells this Moses to go unto Pharaoh. Now, here is where we have a bit of a double meaning. The deliverer is Christ Jesus, who made a public spectacle of the principalities and powers through triumphing over them by the cross. Yet, it is not to Jesus alone that this call goes, but to all who hold to the testimony of Jesus, and who obey the commands of God. Who could that be but we Christians? We are the deliverer unto Israel.

It is our mandate to go unto the pharaoh of this world, wrestling with the principalities and powers, declaring to them boldly in the authority of our God, “Let my people go!” Yet, if we don’t really believe them to be His people, then how can we make such a demand? And, if we don’t really believe that we have the authority, then how can we say such things with confidence? To this we find Moses, who questions the Lord here, as he has done time and again in the past up to this point. It is like the prophet Ezekiel who looks at the valley of dry bones, and God asks, “Can these bones live?” The prophet doesn’t say, “Yes”, but “you know, Lord”. The question demands a faith beyond the prophet, and yet it is the prophet who is told to prophesy.

Why is it that when we pray for the peace of Jerusalem, anything but the peace of Jerusalem comes? Are we not praying hard enough? It isn’t understood by most that there must be hard times. It must happen that Pharaoh reacts the way he does. It is for this reason that we read in Exodus, as well as in the prophets, that Israel “scatters” (Ex 5:12). In Exodus 5, they scatter throughout Egypt. In the last days, they shall scatter through the whole world. Jesus has predicted it, that when  you see the abomination of desolation that they in Judea shall flee to the mountains. Why? Because when the armies surround Jerusalem, its desolation is near.

There is a parallel happening here. The prophets used a language that suggests a last days exodus for the people Israel. They are sifted (scattered) through the wilderness of the nations, completely groping as one who walks in the darkness, while God has declared that He has prepared a place for them in that selfsame wilderness (Revelation 12:6). That preparation is His Church, for it is written, “and they shall take care of her 1,260 days” (Revelation 12:6). Who is the “they” if not the church? For this reason, the result is that the dragon turns his focus upon “her other children”, who are they that hold to the testimony of Jesus (Revelation 12:17).

The plagues of Revelation parallel the plagues of Egypt (at least some of them). It is a reiteration of this same story. In Exodus, it leads to the redemption of Israel from Egypt, and it continues unto Joshua where they inherit the land. All things in their time: first the natural, and then the spiritual – just like Adam came before the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:42-49). First it was Israel to be redeemed from the physical Egypt and into the physical land, but at the end of the age it shall be from the spiritual “Egypt” and “Pharaoh”, who are Satan and the kingdom of darkness, to come unto the spiritual “land”, which is Zion.  That doesn’t discredit the actual physical land and sifting, but all the more heightens it. There is deeper spiritual significance here, and that spiritual significance doesn’t get annulled simply because Israel shall be redeemed spiritually at the end of the age. Indeed, just as the prophets have spoken, they shall be redeemed, and shall return unto the land of Israel, unto their messiah, and shall dwell with Him as His people forever.

The Plagues Overview – Exodus 5-12

This section of Exodus begins with Moses and Aaron going before Pharaoh, and ends with the Passover and the declaration to leave Egypt. It progresses from confrontation to freedom. In this section, the significance for you and I is to recognize the plagues as more than plaguing Egypt, Pharaoh, or the Egyptians. Here is where the rubber meets the road in Christianity.

We cannot believe in systems, whether governments, religious, or academic. A system is an institution, a machine established to produce a certain result. For businesses, the machine is worked through marketing, management, and “customer service”. The workers themselves are merely numbers, and expendable at that. The workers are simply means to the end – growth in the company as well as wealth. For government, a system is even easier to recognize. For we Americans, we just have to look at Washington D.C. and how far outside of actual American culture it is. The famous quote by George W. Bush makes it clear, “Not everyone would pick lettuce for $50/hour.”

Over these systems, the principalities and powers rage. What the secular/pagans don’t know is that they aren’t simply devoting their attention to science. It isn’t about saying that science proves truth, but about devoting your entire existence to demons. They who are so naive to think that if you can’t test it, it isn’t real only show forth blindness that goes beyond human capacity.

Organisms are not this way. The Body of Christ is exactly that – a body. A body is not something that is mechanical. Our church services might be, but the Church itself is not. If we are indeed connected to the Head, who is the creator of the universe, then we should not find the boring and mundane repetition that characterizes our services. Truly, the problem is that our buildings and programs are not run out of the authenticity of the life of God, but rather from the expectancy that the “show must go on”. There is an agenda. The people come for a certain kind of biblical teaching, they want to hear some sort of moving music that they can sing along with (and they want to either know the words, or learn the words quickly), and maybe they want to then know that there are certain programs or events in place that “benefit the community”.

That kind of Christianity is Egypt.

Egypt is the definition of system. It builds an empire for itself, amassing great wealth and prestige among the other nations, and yet builds this empire upon the backs of slaves. Modern Evangelical Christianity has enslaved the pastor, which is why the pastor has to pay so much in insurance, is stressed almost daily, many pastors have been divorced at least once, and they are financially almost unable to stay afloat. We have erected a Christianity that is based upon self. I can prove this by the question you ask when you leave the meeting: “What did you think of the sermon? What did you think of the worship? What would you like to eat?”

Over Egypt are gods, which are not truly gods, but demons. It is these unseen powers that pervade our societies and cultures – including the Christian society and culture if we’re not careful. Whereas I thought for a long time that the principalities and powers was a subject exclusive to the New Testament, I am beginning to see it everywhere. Our understanding of what Paul is expressing as “the principalities and powers” cannot come from Ephesians alone, or from the handful of other passages that mention them either directly or indirectly. Where does Paul get his understanding? Is it strictly from the Holy Spirit, or is there a reference in the Old Testament that he would have been able to provide?

I think one of the places that Paul would have used is this very passage. In Exodus 5-12, we have the plagues of Egypt, but they are not sent in judgment upon the Egyptians, nor Pharaoh, for enslaving God’s people. Rather, these plagues are sent in judgment upon “the gods of Egypt” (Ex 12:12). Now, either the gods of Egypt are just wooden or stone carvings, not really anything at all, or they are indeed something. If they are nothing, which is certainly attested to in the Old Testament, then why would God send judgment upon them?

What is happening here we find explained in Deuteronomy 32:16-17. The idol itself is nothing. As Isaiah mocks, with half of the log they keep themselves warm, but with the other half they carve their idol. How can you be so ignorant to bow down to an idol that you yourself carved, even knowing that the other half of the log was used for firewood? What significance could your idol possibly have? Yet, what Moses is saying, and it’s ultimately God saying it here, is that the idol itself is only a representation of a demon that is truly being worshiped. That demon has the power to cause for titillations and “feelings” so that the worshiper will continue to bow down, completely convinced that they are indeed worshiping gods, because they can feel it.

Science is no different. Think of the many atheist scientists who are not willing to simply do their jobs. They have an agenda, and if you start to disagree with their beliefs, they must rise up in furor to defend “science”. That kind of zeal does not come from simply being devoted to your job, nor does it come from a love of your study. That kind of zeal only comes from a devotion to something beyond the physical world.

The Egyptians plagues are plagues against the demonic realm. We find this significance in multiple ways, not the least of which being that the plagues of Revelation mirror many of the plagues of Exodus. This is a pattern. God doesn’t combat the principalities by us “casting down strongholds” or claiming “in the name of Jesus”. This kind of dethroning only comes through plagues, which is attested to in 1 Kings 17-18 as well. For they who are desiring to overthrow the rule of the demonic forces at work in our nations, states, cities, or churches, we must understand that what we are asking for is a plague that neuters any possibility of that god being considered as having power.

Sons and Heirs – Galatians 3:26-4:7

As we saw last time, Galatians 3 is tracing the story of Abraham in Genesis 12-17. That will come in handy in Galatians 4 as well. Here at the end of Galatians 3, the point is about how we’ve been adopted in Christ Jesus. Here is where many of you were probably asking questions in my last post. I emphasized Israel and the Kingdom of God through Israel, but then the tendency that I’ve noticed from Gentile Christians is to ask, “What about me?”

Here it is, folks. This is the answer to the question “what about me”. You and I, as Gentiles, were outside of the promises and covenant with God. Yet, even the Jewish people are living in a manner contrary to that covenant (as we’ve seen in Paul’s point regarding the law). So, the question is now formed into, “How can anyone enter the Kingdom of God?”

The answer to that is adoption.

Adoption is one of the most fundamental and important words of the New Testament. In a sense, we’ve all be outsiders. We’ve all gone our own way. We’ve all been led down a path that is not God’s intention. Therefore, we’ve all received an adoption of sorts. For the Gentile, it is to be grafted in as a wild olive branch. For the Jew, it is to be grafted in as the natural branch. (This is the whole point of Romans 11, by the way.) There is a “spiritual Israel”, by which the word Israel actually defines the term (see Gen 32:28), that has ever and always existed. There have been both Israelites and Gentiles who have been a part of that “spiritual Israel”. Yet, what is important to remember from Romans 11 is that Paul never says the spiritual Israel supersedes, or replaces, natural Israel.

The issue of being “spiritual Israel” is the issue of adoption. This is where it gets interesting. In Galatians 3:24, Paul made the statement that the law was a “tutor” until the “seed” (Jesus) should come. In Galatians 4:2-5, the same point is being made. Here is the point:
Israel in its infancy, coming out of Egypt, could not bear the eternal covenant in maturity, and was therefore placed under “tutors” (namely, the law and the ‘elements of the world’) until there would come a time (indeed, the fullness of time) when God could send His Son as redeemer, and we might be taken together with Him into that eternal covenant.

It isn’t as though there were none in the Old Testament to be a part of that eternal covenant. This has been Paul’s whole argument from the beginning. When you see Noah finding grace in the eyes of the Lord, is that because Noah did something special? Did Abraham receive the call and the promise because of some merit within Abraham? Do we believe that Moses was called deliverer and mediator because of something intrinsic within Moses?

Trick question.

Yes, we do, but no we don’t.

There is something intrinsic within these saints that gives credence to God’s call, but it isn’t because of the individual. Rather, it is because the eternal covenant has ever and always been something that brings forth this kind of redemption that Paul is speaking (which, once again, is his whole point). So, no there is nothing within the person themselves, for it is of faith and not of works. Yet, we can’t just throw away the whole point that God chose them for a reason.

Anyway, the scripture at hand is explaining to us that these “tutors” had been placed in charge over Israel, which remain to this day, until there would be the time that God would give a means of redemption, a means of coming out from and into. Here is the difficulty of Old Testament revelation. If we believe that Jesus is the messiah, and that redemption only comes through Him, then how were the saints in the Old Testament redeemed, and how is it that we do find attributes of new covenant resurrection/regeneration in the Old Testament? The answer is that we’re not looking at a covenant contained within time, but a covenant that is “eternal”, and therefore beyond time. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and that isn’t a rhetoric and fancy use of wording. This is the eternal covenant, the Lamb slain on the heavenly altar, the covenant that stems back to the Garden of Eden and Adam being a son of God.

Here is the point.

We find in Colossians 2:8 and 20 the same discussion regarding these “elements”. Here Paul calls them “tutors”. There he leaves no question when claiming the law to be tied together with the principalities and powers. In Psalm 82, we read of these “judges” (sometimes translated kings) who rule wickedly, and shall be held accountable. They are told that though they are greater than men, they shall be judged like men. The chapter ends, then, with all of the nations coming to worship the Lord. Does anything seem bizarre to you about that?

These judges of Psalm 82 are actually the principalities. They are demons in the place of influence and authority over nations, who have used their influence and authority to manipulate, deceive, usurp, and oppress. Therefore, they shall be judged as men (meaning, they shall ‘die’, though they are not subject to life and death as we know it), and the judgment of those powers results in the nations coming to God. Compare this with Isaiah 25:7, where God says “upon this mountain (Zion) He will destroy the veil that is spread over all nations.” The context of the statement is redemption for the nations.

Again, we ask ourselves how this has anything to do with “tutors” being set up over Israel. And, again we must conclude that the law was given through a mediator (Moses), that God was marrying Israel, but that Israel desired a mediator rather than God Himself. Therefore, because we read in Exodus 20:19 that the people took Moses rather than God, it was allowed that Israel would for a time be ruled over by “elements” (whether judges, kings, or priests who were under the influence of demons and not God), not the least of these elements being the simple “do this; don’t do that” mentality of the law.

To try to tie together some of the loose ends and make sense of what I’m saying, then, I think we can consult Ephesians 2:1-7. There was a time in yours and my past where we were not in Christ. We lived according to a different mindset, a different wisdom. That wisdom was not a wisdom from God, but rather of demons. They had an influence over us, a way of causing us to think, that promoted righteousness via works and “doing or not doing”. Because I haven’t killed anyone, I must not be as bad as the murderer, right? Such a mindset is blatant error, as Jesus points out, because murder doesn’t start with the act. It starts with the heart that would think someone so worthless that the world would be a better place without that person. That I am guilty of, and therefore I am indeed guilty of murder.

It was to that kingdom, the darkened kingdom, that I subscribed, and therefore lived and breathed and had my being in the demonic perspective. Even while being an atheist and not believing in demons, I still gained my understanding and worldview from the wisdom of demons. However, there came a point in time – a divinely orchestrated point in time – when God sent His Son so that Israel might indeed be heirs and receive the inheritance due her. They who have been promised the eternal covenant, and the inheritance of that eternal covenant all died without receiving that inheritance (Heb 11:39). Notice that the statement does not then go, “but to you…” No, we also have not inherited, because we’re told quite plainly that we shall receive our inheritance with them at the end of the age (Ephesians 1:13-14, 3:1-6).

Our adoption has been one of coming out from being under that darkened kingdom and into the Kingdom of Light. Adoption in the New Testament doesn’t necessitate that we were outside of Israel. In fact, even the Jews had to receive an adoption of sorts, or else Paul wouldn’t make the point that Jesus redeemed “those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption as sons”. Who was it that was “under the law”? Was the law given to Gentiles or to Israel? But now, in Christ, we have all been redeemed, so there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ, and made to be sons instead of children, inheriting the eternal covenant rather than being under the supervision of “stewards”.

Sonship is the issue of covenant. It is the issue of maturity. It is the issue of adoption. All of these things go hand-in-glove, because all of these things are essentially defining the same thing. The same issue is behind it all. Though they be different from one another, the issue behind the issue for all three of these things is the Kingdom of God, the rulership of God, the eternal purpose of man (to rule), and all of these things being made manifest on the earth. This was the purpose of the covenant made with Abraham (to be God’s nation among the nations), and it continues to be God’s prerogative.

How Long Will You Waiver – Exodus 4:24-27

Zipporah calls Moses a “husband of blood”. The story is that Moses and Zipporah begin to go to Egypt, and in going to Egypt Moses hasn’t even circumcised his own son. God comes in the night to kill the boy, which stems from what God said in Genesis 17:14, and Zipporah then circumcises this boy and rebukes Moses. There are a few things happening in the surroundings of this story, just as there are a few things happening within the story.

In my notes, I have the question, “Why is it that when the saints come to Egypt, judgment follows?” I cited Genesis 12:10, Genesis 37:36, Genesis 41:25-32, and Isaiah 30. Of course, these aren’t the only examples outside of Exodus. My mind thinks of when Jeremiah tells the Israelites to not go to Egypt, and they go anyway. There does seem to be some correlation here. When it happens only a couple times, we can assume that this is simply happenstance. Yet, when this happens over and over again in Genesis, and is now happening in Exodus, we’re now at whim to ask if there is a pattern.

Beyond the connection of the saints going to Egypt, and then judgment ensues, we have the connection between Moses and Joseph forming here. Joseph was taken by the hands of Midianites to Egypt, and now Moses is going from Midian to Egypt. Just as Joseph was not recognized by his brothers at first, so too was Moses rejected and not recognized as deliverer by the Hebrew slaves. It is upon the second revealing that the brothers of Joseph, as well as the kindred of Moses recognize God’s deliverance.

Both of these things go beyond these stories and unto our Lord Jesus Christ. We know that Jesus went to Egypt (Mat 2:13-15), and that He was not recognized “by his own” the first time (John 1:11). Something is definitely being proclaimed in these patterns, even if I’m not the one to fully comprehend what exactly it is that is being proclaimed.

Within the immediate story, I think that it is fairly reasonable to suggest that what is happening is that Moses is still struggling with his identity. We discussed back in Exodus 2 that Moses has to choose whether he will be recognized as an Egyptian, who will then continue in oppressing his brethren, or if Moses shall turn against Egypt by embracing himself as Hebrew. This kind of choice is put before all of us, and is not an easy one to make.

Do you consider yourself a child of God, or a child of your natural parents? The two don’t have to be pinned against one another in every circumstance, but certainly there is a disposition of the heart to latch onto one or the other. Does your identity come from your nationality, or ancestry? Are you known as being Jewish, or Italian, or Native American, or Canadian, or English, or German, or whatever other nationality you might be? And, maybe more importantly, is it a thing of pride to know your heritage and that you come from such ancestry? Such things are not always sin, but certainly if you’re English and can’t accept the Irish brethren there is a problem. Or, if you’re from the Middle East and find it hard to embrace the Jew, there is a problem.

At some level, we’ve all had this same difficult choice before us. Do you identify yourself as “white”, and therefore the orient, blacks, or hispanics are something vile in your eyes? Can I turn that question around? Are you black and find it impossible to accept the white neighbor, simply because of the racism and slavery of your people 150 years ago (which I’m not oblivious to the racism continuing even unto today)? And I have a hard time with the Native Americans. How is it that we as Americans and Canadians have scooted them onto reservations, raping them both physically, emotionally, and spiritually (truly in every sense we could), forcing them into some god-forsaken land that is dearth and crying out over the blood spilt, and yet have so little recollection of what we’ve done? It isn’t about politics, or the government apologizing. It isn’t about giving them some land that is actually cultivatable. It is about recognizing the sins of our forefathers, repenting over them, and therefore not forgetting the Native American people (especially since they are still within our own borders).

And what about the difficult question of the poor? It’s hard to see poverty when you live up on the hill with five televisions, more than enough food in your fridge, enough vehicles for each family member to have one, and a wardrobe that gives plenty of options to wear something different everyday. Again, it isn’t in these things that the sin lie. It is in the heart that has embraced such things, completely discontent with life, utterly seeking wealth and dependency, and yet unable to satisfy the underlying shame and nakedness that we all feel. Why else would you need to spend more than 3 minutes in front of the mirror in the morning? What are you hiding with all the make-up, and why are you so intent upon your hair being done a certain way, and why is it so taboo to simply put clothes on and leave the house after you’ve showered?

Even in this question I notice the fatal flaw. There are people in my city who haven’t the option to shower. What about them? Are they “bums” because they don’t have the same as you? Some are; I know this. Yet, how many videos need to be put on Youtube before we realize that some homeless people are just content to live with what they have, and they don’t need the hundreds of dollars in their pockets? You want to know what true contentment is? It is when you have come to the place where if you have much, you live with what you have, and when you have little, you live within your means with what you have. It is when you don’t complain over having little, or seek more when you have much. It is when you are able to accept what you’ve been paid (or not paid), enjoying the people, animals, and creation around you for all that it brings.

Moses has a choice he has to make. Does he identify with Egypt, and thus didn’t even circumcise his own son? Or, does he identify with God and the Hebrews? Of which kingdom are you subscribing to? The one of convenience and capitolism? The one of democracy and politics? The one of wealth and easy living? The one of painlessness and comfort? These things are death, and ultimately tactics of the devil to destroy you. The Kingdom of God is totally different. These things aren’t even important, and therefore we’re living for something entirely different that the world can’t even comprehend. We’re living for a living, and in living, we’re loving. That is what overcomes darkness, and that is what destroys our cliches of “pushing back darkness”. Light doesn’t “push back darkness”; it completely scatters it. In this way, love doesn’t merely cause people to feel accepted; it sets the captive free to the uttermost.

The Eternal Gospel – Rev 14:6-13

And I saw another angel flying in mid-heaven, having the everlasting Gospel to preach upon those dwelling on the earth and on every nation and tribe and tongue and people, saying with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship the one having made heaven and earth and sea and springs of waters.” And another angel, a second, followed saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, who of the wine of the passion of her immorality she has given all the Gentiles to drink.” And another angel, a third, followed them saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image, and receives a mark on his forehead or upon his hand, he will also drink of the wine of the wrath of God having been mixed undiluted in the cup of his wrath, and he will be tormented in fire and brimstone before the holy angels and before the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up to ages of ages, and those worshiping the beast and its image [will] not have rest day and night, and if anyone receives the mark of its name.” Here is the endurance of the saints, those keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. And I heard a voice out of heaven saying, “Write: Blessed are the dead in the Lord dying from now on.” Yes, says the Spirit, that they will rest from their labors. And their works do follow with them.

Let us break down each of these messages from the angels. Overall, we can see they speak the destruction of Babylon, and the terrifying fate of those who worship this “Babylon”. This first angel doesn’t acknowledge the wicked and what their fate shall be. Instead, we’re told that this angel proclaims the “everlasting Gospel”. You can compare this with Matthew 24:14. The Greek word for Gospel is a derivative of the same word for evangelist. The word for preach is another derivative. There is a reason for this. Though there is a message, and there is a Gospel to be preached, it is intimately tied up with the bearer of that message. The man is the message, and the message is the man. The two cannot be divided.

In Matthew 25, when Jesus separates the sheep and the goats, how is it that neither of them knew when they treated the Lord poorly or very well? Righteousness is not something that we attain, but something that are. The righteous are righteous, therefore they act righteously. The actions that the sheep perform unto the least of these are righteous, not because of the “right-ness” of those actions, but because it is the righteous who perform them. The statement of being righteous is not a statement of doing rightly, but because you are righteous, the acts that you perform are righteous. Here, with the Gospel, it is not that you are preaching the Gospel because you know it, but because you are it. The message cannot be rejected without rejecting the one who proclaims it.

We can compare the message this angel brings with Acts 14:14-15. Paul and Barnabas not only speak similar words, but their actions show forth exactly what the words declare. The sentence “fear God” is found in Ecclesiastes 12:13, and is even the conclusion of the whole book. “Give him glory” comes from Joshua 7:19, 1 Sam 6:5, Isa 42:12, and Jer 13:16. “Judgment has come” reflects what has been said in 6:10, 16-17, and 11:18. “Springs of waters”, see 1 Kings 18:5, 2 Kings 3:19, 25, Exodus 15:27, Numbers 33:9.

What is it about this message that is “the eternal Gospel”? There is no mention of sin, no mention of repentance, no mention of Jesus, no mention of redemption, and no mention of the cross/resurrection. What makes this the eternal Gospel is not the words in themselves, for the Gospel is not a formula. What makes this the eternal Gospel is that it is absolute truth and reality being expressed through the character of the angel, the radical separation it calls for from the world, and the weight of glory in the proclamation. That is true evangelism.

A second angel comes behind this proclamation. He continues to declare the Gospel. His message is one of fallenness unto Babylon. Compare these words with Jer 51:7 and Isa 21:9. Here we find the wine of her fornication is now coupled with the wine of wrath. We find in 14:10 and 17:2 these as two distinct things. Though there is distinction, there should not be separation. It is like the Church and Israel. They are distinct, but don’t allow that distinction to dictate a separation. See Jeremiah 25:15. The two are one and the same.

Interestingly, the wine of her adulteries seems to be a play on communion. Think about it. You have the wine of the table of the Lord, which represents the blood of the sacrifice (or even the drink offering) prescribed in Leviticus 1-7. Ultimately, Jesus is that sacrifice. Yet, here we have the table of demons in that there is a wine of Babylon, which is adultery. This wine is maddening, whereas the wine of the Lord brings clarity.

The third angel then plays off of Revelation 13 in what he says. Most likely the worship and the reception of the mark are the same thing. To receive one is to receive the other. We can see in Jeremiah 25:15 this cup being offered to Babylon, and now she drinks it in full. Isa 51:17, Psalm 75:8, and Job 21:20 all speak of drinking God’s wrath. This cup is given to Jerusalem and Babylon. (In our text they are one and the same; a duality of Antichrist kingdom and unfaithful Israel.) There comes a time when the cup of wrath leads to Jerusalem’s redemption, but it leads to Babylon’s destruction. What precisely is it about the cup of wrath that will lead to this one’s salvation, but to another’s final damnation?

“He is tormented with fire and brimstone.” See Isa 34:8-10, Gen 19:24, and Eze 38:22. This concept of fire and brimstone was first introduced in 9:17-18, and is again repeated with 19:20, 20:10, and 21:8. While some maintain that hell is not eternal, but instead is about the destruction of the soul, I’m not sure that this verse supports that claim. Please note: the claim is not a rejection of hell, but of the eternality of hell. They believe that hell exists, and they don’t believe that after spending time there you’ll go to heaven. Annihilationists advocate that hell destroys the soul, thus giving reason to fear Him who can kill body and soul in hell.

They are tormented in the presence of angels and the Lamb. Why in the presence of angels? We can possibly compare Isa 14:15-16 and Ezekiel 28:16-18. This would advocate that the angels shall behold the demise and judgment of Satan. In beholding that demise and judgment, they shall also behold the demise and judgment of Babylon and all the people who worship Babylon. We do find the exact statement made by Jesus in Luke 12:9.

We can compare this first statement in verse 11 with 18:19, 19:3, 20:10, and Isa 34:10. “Have no rest” occurs in 4:8 as voluntary worship. See Isaiah 48:22 and 57:21.

This statement in verse 12 is a repeated statement from 13:10 and 12:17. We can also compare it with Rom 3:22 and Gal 2:16. Why does the judgment of Babylon require the patient endurance of the saints? It only makes sense in the understanding that there will be Jewish people in flight in the last days, running from the Antichrist’s fury into the wilderness where she will be taken care of by the Church for that stretch of time. While God sends judgment upon Jerusalem, which inevitably affects the Jewish people, the Antichrist is establishing his kingdom in Jerusalem. The cup of wrath shall not be solely given to Jerusalem with the judgment upon the Jewish people, but shall be given also unto the Antichrist and his followers.

This requires the patient endurance of the saints. We must be willing to invite the refugees into our own homes, knowing that this will be both illegal and threaten our very lives. Without that understanding, it just seems ludicrous that this verse would be here. This should be our rejoicing, and not our need for patient endurance. In chapter 19, heaven rejoices at the destruction of Babylon. Here we must patiently endure. John is pulling from the duality of Jerusalem/Babylon.

Our final verse in this section can be compared to Romans 14:8. This comes after declaring there is no rest for they who worship the beast. Though the beast and his followers shall have no rest, the saints of God shall eternally rest. Their deeds shall follow them. Yet, what does that even mean? This goes back to our discussion at the first. The righteous do righteously because they are righteous. Righteous deeds are not righteous simply because they are “good”, but because the righteous perform them. We find in Rev 19:8 that the Bride’s apparel is the righteous acts of the saints. We’ll be clothed in righteousness, just as we’re clothed with Christ.