In the “Grand Plan” part (1), there is an expose of the blueprint that God has for defeating the rebellion and restoring His world to integrity. The key to this accomplishment is to recognize the strategy the devil has carefully insinuated into the fabric of truth to confound the way to renewal. The evil one has a well thought out and masterful deception designed to delay indefinitely, or better yet (from his point of view), to ensure that God’s plan is never accomplished. He must also make sure the people of the world never reach the level of wickedness that existed prior to the great flood; because he too will be put to death this time. When it is apparent that God has a people ready to defeat the kingdom of the world, the evil one will remove all the checks and balances on his kingdom of darkness. What the evil one has done, and is doing now, is to delay the outcome of the plan of restoration. This is the subject of The Grand Plan part 2.
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As described in the preceding article, God had given the responsibility of restoration to the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (aka – Israel). God gave Israel two opportunities to accomplish this purpose, but they refused Him; so God withdrew this offer from them because they proved themselves unworthy of this responsibility. The Son of God had informed the teachers of the Jews-the scribes, Pharisees, and Levites, that God had now taken the kingdom away from them, and would give it to a people who would accomplish this plan.
The evil one had succeeded in keeping the children of Israel from accomplishing the instructions that God had given them. He then made a modification to his plan to continue his successes, and delay his day of reckoning. God had shifted responsibility from the children of Israel to all of humanity; to all who were willing to follow the instructions and join with God to defeat the kingdom of the world. The Evil One had been successful because he gained the confidence and allegiance of the majority of priests in Israel. Based upon his proven successes he devised a similar ruse designed to gain the confidence and allegiance of the priest, pastor, minister, and theologians down through history. God sent His Son into the world with the “good news” of the kingdom (aka the “gospel” of the kingdom). The great deceiver believed he could do better; he would give the people a more desirable “gospel”, the gospel of love and grace.
The Son of God spent a whole year teaching truth to His disciples and all who would listen and were willing to learn the words His Father had given Him. It was essential for Him to return to His Father and make the necessary preparations for the arrival of the saints (holy people). These people would be those who would read the words of the eyewitness disciples, and put the words in their minds and hearts, and obey them. The Son of God did not leave the people without a teacher, someone who would help them along the spiritual way. He gave His disciples the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth. The Spirit of Truth is the Spirit “breath” of God and His word of truth.
In the evening of that same day, the first day of the week, the doors were closed in the room where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews. Jesus came and stood among them.
He said to them, ‘Peace be with you’, and showed them His hands and His side. The disciples were filled with joy when they saw the Lord, and He said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. ‘As the Father sent Me, so am I sending you.’ After saying this He breathed on them and said; ‘Receive the Holy Spirit. For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.’ John 20:19-23 (JB)
One might think, ‘What could the Great Deceiver do that would enjoy success against these powerful words of God?’ The Great Deceiver knew if you give people what they want, and clothe it with believability, they will eagerly eat it up. The devil needed the perfect person, one who knew the Law and Prophets, and the Psalms. One who could claim scriptural authority, most of all, one who had had a complete change of heart; someone who was completely opposed to the followers of Christ, but because of an epiphany, was now a professed partner in their work. The Great Deceiver found the perfect foil: Saul of Tarsus. Saul/Paul, and his protégé Luke, overpowered the “Gospel of the Kingdom” with the “Gospel of Grace”. Ninety percent of all the information in the Bible about the “early church” has come from these two sources. John “the disciple whom Jesus loved” was the only eyewitness writer present for the information concerning that time period. John gave certain and explicit warnings about those who have a different or distorted “gospel” from that which the testimony of the Son of God explains.
Children these are the last days; you were told that an Antichrist must come, and now several antichrists have already appeared; we know from this that these are the last days. Those rivals of Christ came out of our own number, but they had never really belonged; if they had belonged, they would have stayed with us; but they left us, to prove that not one of them ever belonged to us. 1 John 2:18,19 (JB)
Watch yourselves, or all our work will be lost and not get the reward it deserves. If anybody does not keep within the teaching of Christ but goes beyond it, he cannot have God with him; only those who keep to what He taught can have the Father and the Son with them. If anyone comes to you bringing a different doctrine you must not receive him in your house or even give him a greeting. 2 John 1:7-11 (JB)
Saul/Paul by his own admission had a different “gospel” (Gal.1:6). His “gospel” was specifically purposed for gentiles.
It was not till fourteen years had passed that I went up to Jerusalem again. I went with Barnabas and took Titus with me. I went there as the result of a revelation, and privately I laid before the leading men the Good News as I proclaim it among the pagans; I did so for fear the course I was adopting or had already adopted would not be allowed. The same person whose action had made Peter the apostle of the circumcised had given me a similar mission to the pagans. Galatians 2:1,2,8 (JB)
What was the content of Saul’s “gospel”?
Though we were born Jews and not pagan sinners, we acknowledge that what makes a man righteous is not obedience to the Law (Ten Commandments), but faith in Jesus Christ. We had to become believers in Christ Jesus no less than you had, and now we hold that faith in Christ rather than fidelity to the Law (Ten Commandments) is what made us righteous, and that no one can be made righteous by keeping the Law Galatians 2:15-16
Saul concluded this teaching with these words in verse 21;
I cannot bring myself to give up God’s gift; if (obeying) the Law can make us righteous there is no point in the death of Christ.
John refuted this teaching in his first letter:
I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning; but if anyone should sin, we have our advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, who is just; He is the sacrifice that takes our sins away. And not only ours, but the whole world’s. We can be sure that we know God only by keeping His commandments. Anyone who says, ‘I know Him’, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, refusing to admit the truth. But when anyone does obey what He has said, God’s love comes to perfection in him. We can be sure that we are in God only when the one who claims to be living in Him is living the same kind of life as Christ lived. 1 John 2:1-6
The great deceiver knew he must act quickly with his deception to accomplish his purpose among those believers in the Christ. The great deceiver knew that the Ten Commandments were, and continued to be, the covenant of the kingdom of God. The Ten Commandments are the promises made by God and by those who plan to enter His kingdom, it is a promise to perform all ten commands.
Two important elements of the conditions of admission into the Kingdom of God are overturned by the “gospel of grace”. The first component is that the “Law”. Saul identifies that the “Law” as the Ten Commandments is the standard of righteousness and was given because of sin. Saul says he didn’t know what sin was until the “Law” came, and when it came it killed him (see Romans 6 and 7). Saul goes on to state that any attempt to keep the “Law” is futile and an absurdity. The “Law” is an attempt to “establish your own righteousness” through your own works and by doing so you are refusing the free gift offered by God through Christ.
The second element is the testimony of Jesus. Paul identified himself as the one chosen to be the apostle to all who were not Jews. He could mitigate the efforts of the disciples of the Son of Man who were the ones commissioned to go to all nations and teach them to obey all that the Son of God had commanded them (see Matthew 28:18-20).
The great deceiver knew that God needed a kingdom on the earth before He could make war upon the kingdom of the world. By convincing people that they were already “in Christ” apart from the “Law” they were now people of God. By making it “sinful” to try and make yourself righteous by strict obedience to the Law, you were denying Christ, and refusing the gift of righteousness offered by God to all believers.
We know that we belong to God, but the whole world lies in the power of the Evil One. 1 John 5:19(JB)
The great dragon, the primeval serpent, known as the devil or Satan, who had deceived all the world… Revelation 12:9 (JB)
The Evil One succeeded in his efforts to control the nations, first through political and religious authoritarian rule. When this system had accomplished the subduing of Christianity, he ushered in grace and the reformation was born. Protestantism as succumbed to the “gospel of grace” in varying degrees. This outcome is the main reason for the delaying of the return of the Bridegroom (Messiah).
The Evil One understands that the “bride” must be ready when her bridegroom arrives to take her to his father’s house, but if she is not ready the wedding is cancelled permanently. It is the responsibility of the kingdom of God to prepare the bride so she will be ready to go to the marriage feast as soon as the Bridegroom arrives; but the Kingdom of God is now sound asleep.
It would appear to be an impossible situation for God to accomplish His plan. God needs a kingdom with righteous people in it before He will be able to defeat the kingdom of the world and its ruler/rulers. Unlike the first worldwide judgment (the time when God executed the guilty by drowning) humanity has been kept from the level of wickedness which existed at the time before the great flood. The evil one has maintained an equilibrium of ideologies and/or moralities among the people of the world, thus delaying with hope of averting, the final judgment. The evil one knows that this judgment will be different from the first. This time all the rebellious spiritual beings will be executed along with the wicked.
When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will come out to deceive all the nations in the four quarters of the earth… But fire will come down on them from heaven and consume them. Then the devil, who misled them, will be thrown into the lake of fire and Sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet are… Revelation 20:7-10
He will pitch the tents of his royal headquarters between the seas at the mountains of the Holy Splendor. Yet he will come to his end-there will be no help for him. Daniel 11:45 (JB)
THE COMING OF THE “PROPHET ELIJAH”
And the disciples put this question to Him, ‘Why do the scribes say then that Elijah has to come first?’ True;’ He replied ‘Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you, that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. Matthew 17:9-13 (NASB)
‘So stay awake, because you do not know the day when your Master is coming. You may be quite sure of this that if the householder had known at what time of the night the burglar would come, he would have stayed awake and would not allowed anyone to break through the wall of his house. Therefore you too must stand ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. What sort of servant, then, is faithful and wise enough for the Master to place him over His household to give them their food at the proper time? Matthew 24:42-45 (JB)
The prophet Elijah exposed the gods that Israel worshiped, specifically Baal, were only frauds. Queen Jezebel was primarily responsible for the preeminence of Baal worship. This caused the decline of Israel, bringing it to a disastrous conclusion. The northern kingdom (Israel) went into exile never to return. The prophet Malachi foretold of the coming of the prophet Elijah, or an Elijah type prophet.
Remember the Law of My servant Moses to whom at Horeb I prescribed laws and customs for the whole of Israel. Know that I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before My day comes, that great and terrible day. He shall turn the hearts of fathers towards their children and the hearts of children towards their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a curse. Malachi 4:22-24 (JB)
The truth is crucial for an accurate understanding of prophecy. The Great Deceiver’s success depends solely on the plausibility and accomplishment of his lies. He knows who would give whatever is required, and do whatever it takes to gain power, authority, and prestige. He gained control of the theologians by producing a belief that their understanding was accurate. They wrongly believed that they had correctly interpreted the prophecies.
The priests, the Sanhedrin, the scribes, and the theologians knew the time for the arrival of their Messiah from a prophecy given to the prophet Daniel. Knowing that it was now that time they were looking for the prophet Elijah to come. Knowing that Elijah had been taken alive into the heavens they expected him to descend to earth for the great announcement. There was also the remote possibility that there would be an Elijah “type” prophet; certainly they believed that this person would recognize that he was this prophet.
This is how John appeared as a witness. When the Jews’ sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask Him, ‘Who are you?’ he not only declared, but he declared quire openly, ‘I am not the Christ’. Well then,’ they asked’ are you Elijah?’ I am not’ he said. ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No’. So they said to him, ‘Who are you? We must take back an answer to those who sent us. What have you to say about yourself?’ ‘I am, as Isaiah prophesied; a voice that cries in the wilderness: Make a straight way for the Lord’.
As they came down from the mountain Jesus gave them this order, ‘Tell no one about the vision until the Son of Man has risen from the dead’. And the disciples put this question to Him, ‘Why do the scribes say then that Elijah has to come first?’ ‘True; He replied ‘Elijah is to come to see that everything is once more as it should be; however, I tell you that Elijah has come already and they did not recognize him but treated him as they pleased; and the Son of Man will suffer similarly at their hands.’ The disciples understood then that He had been speaking of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:9-13 (JB)
I doubt whether it would have mattered if John the Baptist had known he was the Elijah who was to come. His denial gave support to the case against the Son of Man as the anticipated Messiah. The leaders of the Jews had plenty of evidence in support of the truth; this man from Galilee was their expected Messiah. They chose to ignore or distort the evidence because they wanted no part of this man. This Man did not meet their expectations; that of the messiah they had created in their minds.
In the end the Great Deceiver accomplished his purpose, the children of Israel lost their God given responsibility to accomplish the plan of restoration. Yet God did not abandon the nations to suffer under the tyrannical rule of the great red dragon for all time, not at all.
Prophets have always been an important and necessary part of the plan of restoration, and the great deceiver uses this to his advantage. Therefore, the ability to recognize a fulfillment of prophecy is directly connected to the truth in the understanding of its meaning. Another important fact regarding the use of prophecy is the willingness to change when it is evident that the interpretation is in error. Prophecy does not need the support of experts, nor behaves in accordance with the authorized interpretation, to meet the requirement for fulfillment.
The greatest of all prophets is the Son of Man/Son of God, Jesus Christ. If any of the prophets of the Bible is to be believed, it is He. He was the last true prophet God sent to the world. His message is intended only for those who choose to enter the kingdom of God. When the time was at hand for the Son of God to return to His Father He gave His disciples instruction to go to all nations and teach them to obey all that He had commanded them (see Matthew 28:18-20), His disciples were given a tremendous responsibility; make disciples from all nations;
“This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached to the whole world, as a witness to all nations, then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14).
The religious authorities in Jerusalem ignored or overlooked any information that would discredit their conviction concerning the Son of Man. This same attitude is pre-eminent today among Christian scholarship. Saul/Paul calls himself an apostle of God. According to his account he had a supernatural experience on the road to Damascus, that was impressive enough to cause a complete turnabout in his attitude toward the followers of “The Way”. Saul/Paul explains that he wanted to make sure that the Jerusalem assembly understood and accepted his calling. He goes on to say that he shook hands with the disciples of the Way with the understanding that God had authorized him to take a different message to the nations, the “gospel of grace”. The testimony of Jesus and the “gospel of grace” are very different and contradictory to one another, and this fact is totally overlooked and misunderstood by Christians. Christians erroneously believe that everything in the “Holy Bible” is true, and there are no contradictions, period. This belief is based upon an assumption that God has protected His “holy word”. God has preserved the words of His testimony spoken by His Son and written down by His eyewitness disciples.
The “Gospel of the Kingdom” is not the “gospel of Grace”. The “Gospel of the Kingdom” requires obedience to the Ten Commandments. The Ten Commandments is the testimony of performance of the Kingdom of God. It is the Law living within them for it is written on their heart. It is the tie that binds them to their God. Is it any wonder that it is this very covenant that Saul/Paul attacks? He states that the “Law” (this is his term for the covenant) was given because of sin, he informs all that until it was given there had been no knowledge of what constituted sin. He goes on to say that God gave the “Law” to Israel so that after the resurrection there would be a greater appreciation for His great love and saving grace.
Today the Great Deceiver’s lies have caused God to delay His timetable for restoration. I am not saying that God has been surprised by the effectiveness of the deception; in fact, He foretold that it would happen.
Now while the Bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. Matthew 25:5 (NASB)
And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.” Revelation 7:2-3 (NASB)
And the angel whom I saw standing on the sea and on the land lifted up his right hand to heaven and swore by Him who lives forever and ever, who created Heaven and the things in it, and the earth and the things in it, and the sea and the things in it, that there shall be delay no longer. Revelation 10:5-6 (NASB)
The plan for restoration is built upon a definable timetable for its completion. The timetable (calendar) was designed so that its key feature was restoration (Jubilee) (see Leviticus 25). Any period of time that operates during the operation of this calendar is a day for a year. All timing after this is understood as customary.
God does not want to put everyone to death, so He is delaying His return. The delay is necessary, allowing time for His bond-servants to complete the sanctification/consecration prerequisite. Before the end of the restoration calendar arrived certain people were awakening from their slumber; God knew that the delay was necessary for the preparation of the 144,000. This sequence would begin with the appearance of the promised prophet Elijah; the faithful and wise bond-servant.
In Matthew chapter 17 the disciples inquired about the appearance of the prophet Elijah. The answer Jesus gave them was thought-provoking; “Elijah is coming and will restore all things” (accomplish restoration). The disciples did not ask Him if Elijah was coming. They knew that the scribes had said that “Elijah must come first”, and that this meant that the scribes based their disbelief in Jesus as the Son of Man on the “fact” (their understanding of the prophecy in Malachi) that the prophet Elijah had not yet appeared. Since the restoration has not yet been accomplished the prophecy in Matthew 24:42-51 has yet to be realized.
No one knows the day or hour of the return of the Master! This statement has succeeded in preventing self-respecting “believers” from even entertaining the thought of time study, but this statement is totally misunderstood. The Son of God used the process that was involved in a marriage to describe what He would do. He explained that He was going back to His Father’s house to prepare a place for His disciples, and by extension, all who would believe and accept His testimony. His disciples would already know how the process of a marriage worked. The bridegroom, after his proposal was accepted, would go to his father’s house and prepare a place for his bride to live. The completion of this preparation did not determine when the bridegroom could go and get his bride. The Father would tell his son when he could go; at the time of proposal the son did not know when that time would be. The bride needed to be ready to go with her bridegroom the moment he arrived. If she was not ready the wedding was immediately, and forever, canceled.
Clearly there was provision made to insure that the bride would have been informed at the time when her bridegroom would be on his way. When the father revealed the time to his son, the son would inform his servants of the time of the wedding. The servants would then go on ahead of the bridegroom and inform the bridesmaids, who would then go to the bride and get her prepared to meet her bridegroom. This information has already been given, but no one has taken notice, primarily because of the success of the great deceiver’s lies. For all who do not know when the Bridegroom will return, it will be fatal. The foolish bridesmaids found out too late, the importance of knowing the time to be ready.
This is the revelation given by God to Jesus Christ so that He could tell His servants about the things which are now to take place very soon; He sent His angel to make it known to His servant John, and John has written down everything He saw and swears it is the word of God guaranteed by Jesus Christ. Happy the man who reads this prophecy, and happy those who listen to him, if they treasure all that it says, because the Time is close. Revelation 1:1-3 (JB)
[Continued in part 3]