Nearing Midnight: Is America about to Get Fired as the Leader of the Free World?

Nearing Midnight: Is America about to Get Fired as the Leader of the Free World? – Todd Strandberg – http://www.raptureready.com/rap16.html

This month will likely go down as the worst ever for diplomatic relations between America and the rest of the international community. The Obama Administration has presided over an endless series of financial and intelligence missteps.

We started October with a deadlock over the federal budget, which made several nations nervous about the safety of holding dollar denominated securities. The Chinese, with $1.3 trillion of our debt, made the rare occasion of openly criticizing Washington D.C. for allowing the financial crisis to take place. Xinhua News Agency, China’s leading government-controlled news outlet, said the rest of the world should start to “de-Americanize” away from U.S. financial dominance:

“The world is still crawling its way out of an economic disaster thanks to the voracious Wall Street elites. Such alarming days when the destinies of others are in the hands of a hypocritical nation have to be terminated.”

Thanks to the standoff, President Obama was forced to cancel a trip to the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation). What resulted was an incredibly embarrassing picture of all the world leaders standing on a stage at the meeting, and the U.S. only represented by John Kerry-who was forced to stand in the back row-and far off to the side. Beforehand, the person representing America was always front, and center.

Some of the worst diplomatic bad blood resulted from revelations that America has been spying on some of its closest friends. There is a general understanding that allies, spy on each other. What is unforgivable is allowing this information to get into the public. Four times last week we had nations calling our ambassadors and other representatives onto the carpet for invading the privacy of their citizens.

1. A French newspaper reported that the NSA had swept up 70.3 million French telephone records in a 30-day period. The French government issued a formal complaint and put the issue of personal data protection on the agenda of the European Union summit.

2. In Italy, major media outlets reported that a parliamentary committee was told the U.S. had intercepted phone calls, emails and text messages of Italians. Premier Enrico Letta raised the topic of spying during a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State.

3. Germany was shocked to learn from data provided by NSA leaker, Edward Snowden, that the mobile phones of German Chancellor Angela Merkel had been a target of the U.S. government. Merkel called President Barack Obama to confront him on the matter, saying it would be “A serious breach of trust” if confirmed. The White House refused to admit it had been eavesdropping on Merkel’s calls, but promised it wouldn’t happen in the future.

4. In Mexico, it was made known that information NSA collected to fight drug traffickers was also used to spy on the emails of two Mexican presidents: Enrique Pena Nieto, the incumbent, and Felipe Calderon. The Mexican government called the targeting of the presidents, “unacceptable.” Pena Nieto has demanded an investigation.

The most troubling rift in U.S. diplomatic relations occurred with Saudi Arabia, and it had nothing to do with spying. The Saudis have come to the point where they are unhappy with the alliance between Washington and the kingdom.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He also said the kingdom was unhappy with Washington growing closer to Tehran, and its failure to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011. Prince Bandar promised there would soon be a “major shift” in relations between the kingdom and the United States.

If it gets to the point where the Saudis decide to move away from the petrodollar monopoly, it will be disastrous for the U.S. economy. Over a trillion dollars’ worth of Middle East oil is transacted in US currency. A switch to a new system would collapse the dollar and cripple our standing on the world stage.

There can be little doubt that America is well on its way to being fired as the leader of the free world. The only wonderment in my mind is why it has taken this long for America to be given the boot.

America’s absence from Bible prophecy would seem to confirm that our dominance will continue to fade. Since the Antichrist is predicted to become the undisputed leader of all inhabitants on earth, our decline may indicate how close we are to the Tribulation hour.

“And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8).

“And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by [the means of] those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by the sword, and did live” (Revelation 13:14).

A Prophecy About Elam

A Prophecy About Elam
A Feature Article by Jack Kelley

This is the word of the Lord that came to Jeremiah the prophet concerning Elam, early in the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah: (Zedekiah ruled the Southern Kingdom from 597 to 586 BC).

This is what the Lord Almighty says:

“See, I will break the bow of Elam, the mainstay of their might. I will bring against Elam the four winds from the four quarters of heaven; I will scatter them to the four winds, and there will not be a nation where Elam’s exiles do not go. I will shatter Elam before their foes, before those who want to kill them; I will bring disaster on them, even my fierce anger,” declares the Lord. “I will pursue them with the sword until I have made an end of them. I will set my throne in Elam and destroy her king and officials,” declares the Lord. Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come,”declares the Lord (Jeremiah 49:34-39).

Shem, a son of Noah, was the father of all the Semetic people (primarily Jews and Arabs). Elam was Shem’s oldest son (Genesis 10:22). He was born after the flood and was the patriarch of the Elamites. His descendants settled in the valley between the north eastern shore of the Persian Gulf and the Zagros Mountains, where some believe Noah’s ark might have come to rest.

(Genesis 11:2 says that after the flood the new population of Earth spread out from the east. They found a plain in Shinar and settled there. This plain is where the Tirgis and Euphrates Rivers flow parallel to each other toward the Persian Gulf. It became known as Mesopotamia which means “between the rivers.” The Zagros mountains are due east of Mesopotamia whereas the mountains of Ararat, traditional location of the Ark, are several hundred miles to the north.)

Elam’s capital city, Susa, was one of the world’s first post flood cities, and was a regional center off and on for many centuries before being destroyed by Ashurbanipal, the last of the great Assyrian Kings, in 647 BC. As was the custom of Assyrian kings, he removed many of the surviving Elamites from their homeland. He took them to the former Northern Kingdom of Israel, which had been conquered by Assyria 74 years earlier, where they were resettled among the Israelites who remained there.

That Was Only The Beginning

But this did not fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy, which wouldn’t even be given for at least another 50 years. Susa was rebuilt, only to be conquered again, this time by the Persian King Cyrus. It was rebuilt again and renovated by King Darius the Great to serve as the capital of the Persian Empire. Susa was mentioned in Daniel 8:2 as the location where the prophet received a vision recorded in Daniel 8 of the subsequent conquest of the Persian Empire by Alexander the Great. This prophecy was fulfilled two hundred years later when Susa surrendered without a battle to Alexander.

Daniel 8:2 identifies Susa as being in the province of Elam, indicating it was already a part of the Persian Empire at the time. From this brief history it appears that all but the last verse of Jeremiah’s prophecy was fulfilled in the Assyrian and Persian conquests. By the way, Daniel was buried in Susa and his tomb has been preserved to this day because he has always been highly revered among the Persian people.

Who Are These People?

A case can be made for the view that “Persian” and “Elamite” are not two names for the same people but that having conquered Elam, Persia became the successor to Elam, whose original inhabitants, as Jeremiah’s prophecy indicates, have been scattered to the four winds and absent from the pages of history for over 2,500 years. Evidence of the difference in origin between the Elamites and the Persians came from the mouth of none other than Persian King Darius the Great who said,

“I am Darius, the great king, the king of kings, the king of many countries and many people, the king of this expansive land, the son of Wishtaspa of Achaemenid, Persian, the son of a Persian, ‘Aryan’, from the Aryan race” (From Darius the Great’s Inscription in Naqshe-e-Rostam).

Some scholars say Iran means “land of the Aryans” and claim that the Iranians are not descendants of Shem, as the Elamites were, but more likely came from Japeth, whose descendants are mostly Caucasians. This supports the view that Elam and Persia are not different names for the same people. Also, the native languages of the two groups were different.

This may explain why Ezekiel, who wrote from Babylon at the same time Jeremiah was writing from Jerusalem, identified one of the major participants in the Battle of Ezekiel 38 as being Persia, and not Elam. God might have informed him, as He did Jeremiah, that the Elamites would be conquered and scattered to the four winds by their Persian neighbors.

It could also help us understand why the Arabs of the Middle East today are so opposed to the Iranians gaining any kind of political or military advantage over them. Even though they share varieties of the same religion (Islam), the Persians are not Arabs. As an example, if you follow our “Prophecy in the Headlines” feature, you’ve probably read about Saudi Arabian officials announcing that because of the US pursuit of a more cooperative relationship with Iran, the Saudi kingdom will henceforth be limiting its interaction with the US and going its own way where Middle Eastern affairs are concerned.

(From my days as a business consultant, I remember hearing one of the owners of a client company talking on the phone in a language I didn’t recognize. When he hung up I asked what language he had been speaking. “It was Farsi,” he said, “the Persian language.”

“Then you’re an Arab,” I responded.

For an instant, I thought I had offended him. Then, as if he was correcting a child, He said, “Persians are not Arabs. We’re Caucasians.”)

But there’s one verse that prevents us from proclaiming Jeremiah’s prophecy to be completely fulfilled in history. Jeremiah 49:39 says, “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Elam in days to come, declares the Lord.”

What Happened To Elam?

There’s no record of a re-emergence of the Elamites since the Persian conquest 2500 years ago. Some say Jeremiah 49:39 is currently being fulfilled through the Iranians. They say this partly because Iran’s primary nuclear facilities are in the area once called Elam. Its recently completed nuclear reactor in Bushehr lies on the eastern shore of the Persian Gulf in the heart of ancient Elam. If that’s the case then God’s restoration of Elam’s fortunes is both brief and haphazard, its stated purpose is opposed to God’s plan for Israel, and it is doomed to end in even more destruction.

Currently, the most popular view is that the complete fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy is for our time and will take place shortly through Iran’s defeat in the Battle of Ezekiel 38. But if that’s true, then the Iranian people will have to be scattered among all the nations following their defeat and then somehow regain God’s favor during Daniel’s 70th Week in order for the last verse to be fulfilled. There’s simply no good reason to believe this will happen. After one brief reference in Ezekiel 38:5, the future of Persia is never mentioned in the Bible again.

I think it’s reasonable to expect prophecies that have only been partially fulfilled in history to have their ultimate fulfillment in our future. The idea that a partial historical fulfillment points to a complete future fulfillment is a well established principle in the Bible. Two examples we’ve reviewed recently are Isaiah 17 and Psalm 83. The literal and complete fulfillment of these prophecies has not happened yet.

But from my research it appears that the only part of Jeremiah’s prophecy that remains a question mark is verse 39. The Elamites were defeated and scattered among the nations just as Jeremiah predicted. The nation ceased to exist and there’s been no mention of them since.

There are other cases of nations being as totally erased from history and then suddenly reappearing. Israel and Babylon are two obvious examples. But with both of them there are multiple chapters with detailed descriptions of their re-emergence and subsequent destiny. With Elam we get one non-definitive verse.

Let’s Try To Be More Careful

I think there are a number of people today who are guilty of interpreting Bible prophecy in light of current events when the reverse is supposed to happen. We are supposed to interpret current events in light of Bible prophecy. These people read the world news and then scour the Bible for prophetic verses that seem to fit without fully researching their history to see to what extent they’ve already been fulfilled. Many of them are novices where Bible prophecy is concerned, but some should know better.

We also need to remember that Bible prophecy only illuminates world history where Israel is concerned. Great Empires have come and gone during Israel’s absence without so much as a hint of their existence in the Bible. Even the United States, by any measure the most successful of them all, is missing from the prophetic record. You can’t tell me God didn’t know these empires were coming, so their absence has to mean that He sees them as irrelevant to Israel’s destiny. Don’t get me wrong, He has used them all to advance His plan for His people, and they were all blessed through their time of participation. But He didn’t find any of them worthy of mention because He didn’t actually need any of them to fulfill His plan.

I frankly can’t say how or when God will restore Elam’s fortunes. But based on what I know currently, I am not comfortable with the substitution of Iran for Elam in Jeremiah 49:34-39. The truth is, we don’t need Jeremiah 49 to know what will happen to Iran, and the Bible doesn’t say how or when Elam’s fortunes will be restored. The only thing we know for sure is that God said it and therefore He will do it.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times what is still to come. I say, My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please (Isaiah 46:10). You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah 10-26-13.

Tares among the Wheat

Tares among the Wheat – Ron Graham – www.straitandnarrowministry.com

What does it mean to be a Christian? Is it the way we act or what we believe that determines if we are a Christian or just a pretender? “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” Romans 10:9. God’s word makes it clear that it is our faith that makes the difference. Many people say that they believe in Jesus Christ, but if that belief is just “head knowledge” and they don’t “…believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead…” then their words mean nothing.

How far would you go to prove you’re a Christian? I’ve heard the hypothetical question “If you were hauled into court for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” For many people around the world, this isn’t hypothetical. In Muslim countries it is a crime to be a Christian, yet there are many brave people who stand firm on their faith in Christ. It is our faith that determines our salvation, but that faith should be evident by our actions “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” James 2:19-20. Many people sitting in a pew each Sunday say that they believe but show no fruits of their faith, and non-Christians often do great works yet deny Christ. True faith should be proclaimed by our mouth and also shown in our actions…not for our own glory but for that of Christ Jesus. Our daily walk should reflect who we are in Christ. Our living for Christ should be so obvious in this life that even when viewed by the most hardened Christ-rejecter he should be 100% certain he’s witnessing a true and devout follower of Jesus Christ. You might say the true Christian is wheat, while those who just mouth words of faith but live according to the world are tares.

Jesus spoke many deep truths in parables. One of those tells of the wheat and the tares.”The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.” Matthew 13:24b – 26. We all know what wheat is but what are tares? It is a grain that resembles wheat, but has no value. In fact the seeds are poisonous. When it grew in a wheat field it was allowed to mature, but at harvest it was separated out and burned. Why has it become so difficult, especially in our current age, to make a determination as to which of those professing to follow Christ are the “wheat” and which are the “tares” currently infiltrating the ranks of the true believers? What is it that has changed in society today that gives us cause to ponder Jesus’ words “But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity”? Luke 13:27. It’s easy to say you’re a Christian but it’s a lot harder to stand firm for Jesus Christ in the face of adversity. Call yourself a Christian all day long but if you’re not walking the walk you’re probably one of the tares.

“So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares” Matthew 13:27. In our Lord’s parable even the servants of the householder had no difficulty noticing the difference between wheat and tares – good seed and bad – true believers vs. phonies. How did they know? They had knowledge. Today we hear many false doctrines being taught, such as “there are many paths to Heaven” or the “name it and claim it” heresy among others. Only studying God’s word will teach you the truth. In knowing the truth you will know the difference between the nourishing wheat and the poisonous tares.

Jesus was asked to explain this parable, and Matthew 13:37-43 records His answer. Jesus is the One who sows the good seed, the field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, the tares are the sons of Satan and he is who sowed the bad seed, the harvest is the end of the age. Although we can see the corruption happening within the Christian community, Jesus doesn’t confine the location of the tares to within the Ekklesia. Soon the Ekklesia will be Raptured and these tares will continue to grow. There will be many people who will come to know Jesus after the Rapture and the tares will continue to corrupt until the final judgment when the wheat is harvested and the tares are burned.

Christians, we need to understand that God gave us His inerrant word and it has not changed one iota in meaning. We need to stand firm on His word and not be swayed by the lies planted by Satan. God’s word is quite clear that Jesus Christ is God, but Satan plants the poisonous tares by spreading the lie that Jesus was just a prophet or merely a very nice man. A very nice man would have died and been buried. But Jesus shed His blood on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin. He arose from the grave and His victory over death gives all true believers eternal life. God’s word makes it quite clear that all sexual activity outside of a one man one woman marriage is a sin. Homosexuality is an abomination to God, but Satan plants the poisonous tares by saying that it is just a choice of lifestyle. How many single people sitting in pews on Sunday morning have spent Saturday night in bed with their girlfriend or boyfriend? “It’s just human nature” says the father of all lies, but God’s word tells us differently. I choose to bring up sexual sin because it is widespread, condoned, and encouraged in music, TV shows, movies, and books, but any behavior that is contrary to God’s word needs to be changed. Our schools are even teaching our children how to commit sexual sin. The wheat will grow strong in the Lord, but the tares will poison those who partake of it.

Satan uses the same subtle lies today as he used to confuse Eve in the Garden of Eden. “And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:4-5. Satan began sowing tares long ago, and the idea behind the enemy’s deception is to bring about a subtle “change” that, over time, will confuse those looking into Christ’s Ekklesia. They will be confused as to what Christianity is and what it means to be a true follower of Jesus Christ. He means to deceive those seeking something more out of life than just their mundane daily existence. If Christians feel that it is OK to live the same sinful lifestyle of the unsaved, why should the lost of this world see a reason to accept Christ? The life of a Christian is filled with hope which extends beyond the confines of this life. That’s exciting! Many people are seeking God but Satan in no way wants them to find Christ as their answer. Instead of learning the truth of who Jesus is, Satan will give the seeker a false gospel to follow thereby diverting that person off the true path that leads to salvation and onto the other path that leads to destruction.

We can see and know with little doubt who the tares are. Who are they? If you have to ask that question you’re in trouble. But I’ll give you a little help. If you know someone who claims to be a Christian but they also claim there are errors in God’s word, or else they don’t even believe God’s word, they are tares. If they don’t believe Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven then that would be a huge red flag and they are tares. A tare is someone who spreads the poisonous claim that the Bible was written to people a long time ago, but people have changed and so the Bible is outdated and needs to be amended to fit today’s world.

“When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:” Luke 13:25. Are you wheat or are you a tare? You need to honestly ask yourself that question today because there will come a time when it is too late. The door will be shut. Today may be your last day on earth and you will face eternity in Heaven or in Hell. The choice is yours. If the Rapture happens as you are reading this commentary, will you go with the wheat or be left with the tares? True Christians will be taken, but the tares will be left here to face God’s wrath. The Tribulation, and more specifically the last half of that time of judgment known as the Great Tribulation, will be filled with unimaginable horrors. Jesus said “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” Matthew 24:21. If you are living a life filled with sin and opposed to God’s word, don’t wait another minute to accept His free gift of salvation and change your life. The harvest is coming and tomorrow may be too late.

God bless you all,

Ron Graham

twotug@embarqmail.com

www.straitandnarrowministry.com

ron@straitandnarrowministry.com

Previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html

All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.

This commentary was started by Ron Graham before his death on March 14, 2013, and finished by his wife, Nathele Graham

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Nearing Midnight: Our Faith Based Monetary System

Nearing Midnight: Our Faith Based Monetary System – Todd Strandberg –

The Bible has a great deal to say about the subject of money. With over 250 verses about money, the Word of God shows how it influences nearly every facet of our lives. The apostle Paul warned in 1 Timothy 6:10, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.”

Our leaders in Washington DC have been locked in an endless debate over what to do about our nation’s federal debt. After weeks of name calling, the White House and Congress are working toward a solution that would kick the can down the road for a few more weeks.

I don’t need to go into any great detail about the indebtedness of our nation. We are currently $17 trillion in the hole, and we add nearly a trillion dollars each year to the tab. There is no doubt in my mind that we are on a path toward national bankruptcy.

The root of our fiscal problems is the amount of trust we place in money. We see it as a magic cure for all ills. Because our politicians love money so much they spend more of it than they take in from taxes. Because about half the people in this country like getting money from the government, there is no easy answer for how to balance our financial books.

Our leaders will never be able to get a handle on the problem until they realize how our entire monetary system is based on faith. Since the greenback, is not backed by any physical assets, trust is the only thing that maintains its value.

When you go to a restaurant for lunch you have faith that the dollars in your pocket will be accepted as payment for your meal. If you hand the person taking your order a $100 bill from the nation of Zambia, it will probably be rejected because he or she has no faith in its value. Even if you offered to pay in Canadian money at twice the rate and explained that most banks would be able to convert it to US dollars, the restaurant management would most likely still insist on being paid in US dollars.

What makes money the most sinister is how it has become a replacement for faith in God. If someone has a net value of $100 million, they strive to turn it into $200 million because of the common belief that having more money will increase their security and happiness. Never mind the fact the super-rich will never spend even a small portion of their holdings. The value of their life is measured by the size of their bank account.

Trust in the dollar is so all-important that our federal government does everything it can to combat any asset that would compete with it. Over the past few years the precious metals market has been repeatedly, attacked, by sellers with very deep pockets. (In the middle of the night some mysterious entity would drive down the price of gold by dumping contracts worth tens of billions of dollars on the open markets.) Even the new concept of electronic money called Bitcoin-although tiny in value-has been attacked by the feds. Just this past week the FBI raided a website trading in bitcoins.

The government can do all they want to prop-up the dollar, but eventually, the value of our currency will have to stand on good fundamentals. You can’t have faith in faith itself. Once people realize how bankrupt we really are, faith in the dollar will instantly evaporate.

The reason why the Antichrist will use money to enslave the world is because it’s the one thing that will entice the most number of people to join the “mark of the beast” system. This is why we need to decide if we own our money or does it own us.

There are some good uses for money. Everything you do for the Kingdom of God will be translated into a heavenly bank account. The knowledge that this world system is about to collapse should motivate us all to support efforts to spread the gospel.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:19-21).

The Ultimate Rags To Riches Story

The Ultimate Rags To Riches Story
Saturday, October 12th, 2013
A Feature Article by Jack Kelley

We all love this kind of story. And as much as we’re encouraged by the experience of an ordinary person who due to personal drive and perseverance rises from humble beginnings to become a leader of business or industry, we’re especially fond of stories where an absolute nobody is plucked from the faceless crowd and instantly propelled to the pinnacle of success. Great Hollywood stories have been built upon this premise, and they’ve never failed to delight us. But by far the absolute best example of this comes from the Bible and is about you. Our story begins in the Old Testament Book of 1st Samuel with David and Jonathan.

And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt. (1 Samuel 18:3-4)

The making of covenants was serious business because people’s lives depended them. A covenant was the strongest bond known to men, and had both business and personal applications that extended even to the descendants of the two parties involved. Here’s an example.

Some time after David and Jonathan formed their covenant relationship, Jonathan was killed by the Philistines in the Battle of Beth Shan, while David went on to become King of Israel. As I said, covenant agreements extended beyond the grave to the parties’ descendants. One day King David asked his advisers if there was anyone left of Jonathan’s family to whom he could show kindness for Jonathan’s sake.

They brought in one of Saul’s former servants who told him of a crippled boy named Mephibosheth. He was Jonathan’s son, living in a place called Lo Debar, about as far from Jerusalem as he could get. When David had become King of Israel, all of former King Saul’s family (Jonathan was Saul’s son) had fled for their lives for fear that David would take revenge on them for the way Saul had treated him. In their haste to escape, a nurse had picked up the 5 year old Mephibosheth to carry him, but she tripped and they fell hard on the stone floor, breaking his legs and crippling him for life. (2 Sam. 4:4) As he grew up his family had convinced Mephibosheth that David was responsible for his condition and still wanted to kill him.

Upon learning Mephibosheth’s whereabouts, David sent his soldiers to fetch him. When they brought him into the presence of the King, Mephibosheth, fearing for his life, bowed in submission before him. David reassured him and told him of the covenant he had with Jonathan. Then David restored to him all of his grandfather Saul’s property and gave him servants to work the land so his needs would always be met. Finally David asked him to come live in Jerusalem, and eat at the king’s table just like one of the king’s own sons. (You can read the story of David and Mephibosheth in 2 Sam 9.)

Talk about rags to riches. It’s a beautiful story of kindness and forgiveness that illustrates the depth of a covenant relationship like no other, and like many Old Testament stories it’s a model of what the Lord had in store for us. Just think of David as God our Father, Jonathan as the Lord Jesus, and Mephibosheth as you and I.

The Everlasting Covenant

Long before we were born the Father and the Son entered into a covenant on our behalf. In effect, our Father said to Jesus, “Son, if you’ll die for them I’ll forgive them”

Jesus replied, “Father, if you’ll forgive them I’ll die for them.” And so the Everlasting Covenant was formed. The Bible says this happened before the foundations of Earth were laid. (1 Peter 1:20)

They had made this covenant because God knew that each time He entered into covenant with man, man would prove untrustworthy and soon break it. For example, Adam ate the forbidden fruit, Noah’s descendants refused to scatter and re-settle the Earth, the Israelites broke the commandments, and so on. The salvation of God’s children was so important to Him that no mere man could be trusted to be faithful, so God Himself had to become a man to save mankind. “You are my son,” He told Jesus, “Today I have become your Father.” (Psalm 2:7)

In the fullness of time Jesus became a man to save mankind, and stood before our Father as our covenant head.

Even though God knew we would ultimately choose Him He pursued us like an ardent lover, and at first many of us ran from Him. We’d heard the stories of His wrath and some of us had even been told that He was responsible for our infirmities and the other bad things that happened to us. They said if He ever got His hands on us He would punish us severely for our sins. Finally one day He caught us and as we trembled at His feet in fear, He reassured us and told us of the covenant He had made with His Son to forgive us. Then He restored the inheritance Satan had stolen from us, invited us to dwell with Him, to eat at the King’s table with His family, and to consider ourselves as His children.

The New Testament tells us how He accomplished this. In John 1:12-13 we’re told that because we believe in Jesus we’ve been given the authority to become children of God. Having been born once in the flesh to our earthly parents, He gave us the right to be born again in the Spirit so that He could become our Heavenly Father. He did this simply because we chose to believe in His Son. (John 3:16)

Then Romans 8:29 says that God knew in advance that we would believe in His Son, so He predestined us to be conformed to His likeness so Jesus could be the first of many brothers in the Royal Family of God. First Jesus was made like us, and soon we’ll be made like Him. (1 John 3:2)

In Galatians 4:4-7 we read that since we’ve been legally adopted into God’s family, we’re now God’s children. And that means we’re also His heirs, joint heirs with Jesus. Romans 8:16-17 confirms this.

Hebrews 2 makes the point that Jesus was temporarily made lower than the angels, becoming a man to save mankind, and afterward He was elevated to His former position and crowned with glory and honor.

Paul gave us more detail on this. Ephes 1:20-22 explains that when He was resurrected, Jesus ascended into heaven to sit at the right hand of majesty far above all rule and authority, power and dominion and every title that can be given, in the present age and the one to come. All things were placed under His feet.

Astonishingly Ephes 2:6-7 says God raised us up and seated us there too, in order that in the coming ages He might show the incomparable riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus. The verbs in this passage are in the past perfect tense, meaning that in God’s view we’re already there.

So even though at one time we were dead in our sins, and by nature objects of God’s wrath, hopeless, helpless, worthless, and useless, He made us alive in Christ. He forgave all our sins, clothed us in robes of righteousness, seated us beside His Son in the heavenly realm and made us Kings and Priests who will reign on Earth, and co-heirs with Jesus of God’s estate.

The 24 Elders

By the way, this lends enormous credibility to our view that the 24 elders of Rev. 4 represent the Church.

Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. They were dressed in white and had crowns of gold on their heads. (Rev. 4:4)

These 24 elders confuse some people, but they shouldn’t. Their appearance gives them away. They have thrones, so they’re rulers. They surround the Throne of God where Jesus is seated, so they’re reigning with Him. They’re seated, another sign of royalty. They’re dressed in white, so they’re righteous. They’re wearing the Greek “stephanos” crown, so they’re victors, over comers. They’re called Elders, a title long associated with the Church.

Some try to explain the 24 thrones by saying that they belong to an unknown group of ruling angels. But four Biblical prophets saw the throne of God and recorded their experience. They were Isaiah (Isaiah 6), Ezekiel (Ezek. 1 & 10), Daniel (Dan. 7), and John (Rev. 4). Neither Isaiah nor Ezekiel made any mention of the 24 elders indicating that they weren’t present in Old Testament times. Daniel’s vision concerned the End Times and in Dan. 7:9 he mentioned multiple thrones but didn’t add any details as to number or type of occupants. This is consistent with the fact that the Church was hidden to Old Testament prophets even in visions of the future. Only John made mention of the 24 Elders. When you put it all together you can make a pretty good case that the 24 elders represent the Church.

Jesus is seated at the right hand of majesty today, Paul wrote that we’re seated there with Him, and when John was transported to the end of the Age he saw us there, after the rapture but before the end times judgments begin.

In the Book of Revelation, three groups of believers come into view. In Rev. 5:9-10 the 24 Elders are shown worshiping God and thanking Him for taking us from every tribe and language and people and nation and making us to be kings and priests who will reign on Earth. In Rev. 7:9-17 we see a great multitude in white robes who will arrive in heaven shortly before the Great Tribulation begins. They will serve God in His temple but are never called priests. Rev. 15:2-4 describes a third group of believers who have been martyred for their faith and are standing in Heaven. Rev. 20:4 indicates that this group will be resurrected to reign with Christ for 1000 years, but they are not called kings.

In support of their particular rapture view, various scholars try to identify each of these groups as the Church. But only one of them is seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, only one is called Kings and Priests, and that’s the one represented by the 24 elders. That group is the Church, and it makes our elevation from obscurity on Earth to a throne in heaven the ultimate rags to riches story. 10-12-13