(7/21/13) Our usual men's Sunday morning bible study.
The leader opened in prayer, asked if someone wanted to read the passages, which they did, and then said something that I do not remember. He then turned to the group and said anyone have anything to say about what was read, giving me the impression that he had nothing.
I always have something to say. I operate on the principle of always be prepared to give witness to the faith that is in you. So, I waited several long, silent moments to see if anyone else would jump in, and then I started with verse one of John chapter 10.
The gospel of John is awesome, powerful, and consistently demonstrates that Jesus was God.
One of the men in our group has seminary training and feels that his dominance and voice is mandatory for most discussions. This morning with only an hour of time, he consumed 40 minutes of it, taking us on several circuitous routes 180 degrees from where we needed to be.
To have someone skilled in theological terminology show me and the others in the group no grace by beating us up prevents everyone in the group from seeing and hearing anything but what he has to say.
In other words, I had no voice this morning, therefore I write.
With that off my chest, let's begin.
"Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1 ESV)
What an odd statement!
“anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate,”
"Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. (John 10:1 NIV)
I have childhood memories of an area we used to pass through while traveling to visit relatives. Sheep farmers could always be found there. These shepherds apparently lived in small travel trailers and would integrate their trailers into the pen by making them part of the opening. Supposing you did not have a travel trailer and could only rely on large branches to build your pen, then the idea of the sheepherder lying in the entry, becoming the door, makes all the sense in the world.
I can just picture these guys sleeping lightly. You would not be able to step over them without waking them. That would force anyone attempting to gain access to sneak in some other way.
If you take in all the words and the context of the verses you begin to see that Jesus is not merely talking about sheep.
He had been going verbal rounds with the Pharisees and much of John 10 is directed at them. In his previous challenges from, and to the Pharisees he told them that he had been with the Father and that God was his Father. For him to say that, and for it to be true, would mean that Jesus was God, something they refused to entertain. These assertions were worthy of death as far as the Pharisees were concerned.
Although I do not wish to go into it right now, Jesus made the statement in verse 8 of John 10, as though they were not standing in front of him, in which he said that, everyone before him had been thieves and robbers.
Everyone? Really? What about the prophets like Elijah, Elisha, Samuel, and others. Obviously it is not everyone but more like a particular group, religious folk.
The statement alone tells me that there are others that are trying to gain access to the sheep, and attempting to pass themselves off as the shepherd. If that is not the case then it is portraying a time that is coming and Jesus painted a clear picture of what it will look like.
Many of us can name some of those that have led sheep a stray.
James Warren "Jim" Jones (May 13, 1931 – November 18, 1978) was the founder and the leader of the Peoples Temple, best known for the cult murder/suicide in 1978, 909 of its members in Jonestown, Guyana, and the murder of five individuals at a nearby airstrip. Over 200 children were murdered at Jonestown, almost all of them by cyanide poisoning. Jones died from a gunshot wound to the head.
David Koresh (born Vernon Wayne Howell; August 17, 1959 – April 19, 1993) was the American leader of the Branch Davidians religious sect, believing himself to be its final prophet. Howell legally changed his name to David Koresh on May 15, 1990 (Koresh being the Persian name of Cyrus the Great (Kurosh). A 1993 raid by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the subsequent siege by the FBI ended with the burning of the Branch Davidian ranch outside of Waco, Texas, in McLennan County. Koresh, 54 other adults, and 28 children were found dead after the fire.
Harold Egbert Camping (born July 19, 1921) is an American Christian radio broadcaster, author and evangelist. Since 1958, he has served as president of Family Radio, a California-based radio station group that broadcasts to more than 150 markets in the United States. In October 2011, he retired from active broadcasting following a stroke, but still maintains a role at Family Radio. Camping is notable for issuing multiple failed predictions of dates for the End Times, which temporarily gained him a global following and millions of dollars of donations. Camping predicted that Jesus Christ would return to Earth on May 21, 2011, whereupon the righteous would fly up to heaven, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011, with the final destruction of the world. He had previously predicted that Judgment Day would occur on or about September 6, 1994.
(All the above references were found in Wikipedia.)
I did a quick look up and count of people who had claimed to be Jesus over the years and there were well over 30. Many of these had a tremendous following.
Not everyone will get sucked in.
How do I know that? Because there is a timing to this, and it has everything to do with the last days. Besides that He was talking to the Pharisees. Jesus, in attempting to explain what was to come, stated in Matthew 24, 25 that even the elect would be deceived. The elect is Israel's learned religious scholars, a sub class of God's chosen people, Israel. Then the elect of Israel would have to be the taught ones, the Pharisees. They are all still looking for the Messiah.
Who else is looking for a Jesus to come? Islam. They anticipate, and have vocalized through speeches given at the United Nations that they are anxiously awaiting the coming of Isa ben Mariam. He will come; we know him as the false prophet. You will find references to him in Revelation 16:13; Revelation 19:20, and Revelation 20:20.
What does he do that deceives?
He acts like and does the things that Jesus Christ did, but defers to the god of Islam and the Mahdi. He also produces items that convince the religious leadership that they have followed after the wrong god.
For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.
(Matthew 24:24 NIV)
What is the gate?
An obvious answer is Jesus Christ. Did he not say that he was the way? Now he is saying that he is the door. Again, the only way.
John 10:9 NIV I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.
Jesus re-emphasized this again in John 14:6 NIV Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
But this creates another problem for the follower of Christ.
Try to follow my thinking here:
Ask yourself, what happens at the great white throne judgment?
Answer: God raises the remaining dead for judgment.
Why is this a problem? You have to create a chronology in order to understand the answer. As the followers of Jesus Christ we are considered the bride, and He promised to return, in the sky, to collect his own. So we, the church, get caught up to meet him and spend the next seven years with him, only to return with him on “the day of the Lord”, as his invincible army. Never to be separated from Him. So that excludes the believers from the throne judgment.
What is next? Tribulation to the extreme.
This produces and uncountable number of dead in the Lord, called saints. But we can exclude them for they are caught up to heaven and stand before the throne shouting Holy is the Lord and they stand on a magnificent sea of glass.
Then one of the elders asked me, "These in white robes--who are they, and where did they come from?" I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, "they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 'Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,' nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; 'he will lead them to springs of living water.' 'And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.'" (Revelation 7:13-17 NIV)
So who is left? All those that we comprehend to have died without the Lord. Ponder that for a moment.
What happens next? God separates the dead into two groups, the goats, and the sheep. God does this. He separates them, and he classifies them as sheep.
Now consider. Jesus did not make a sheep pen to hold those that did not belong to him. This entire chapter is talking about sheep, the thing that defines us the best. Remember what Paul said, “all we, like sheep.”
So, though you do not understand it, and neither do I, God has seen these people in a different light, calls them sheep, deems them acceptable because they performed acts outside of pure selfishness, and tells them to enter into the kingdom.
You know what this tells me. We have been preaching the wrong thing to people. Instead of condemnation and guilt, we should have been preaching life to them. As I listened to one of Christian psychology radio programs they referred to something an old cattle rancher said about containing cows. You can build barbed wire fences in order to keep the cattle on the property, and they will push into it, feel the pain and retract back into the property. Or, you can build a well. The well works because cattle are drawn to water, and they will stay where the water is at. Without the barbed wire Jesus became the river of living water. And though many of these people did not meet our requirements for salvation they adequately met God's standard.
only thieves and robbers climb over the fence
Jesus said: I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. (John 10:1 CEV)
The word in Greek used to convey a thief means exactly that. Someone who is there to steal.
Jesus told us that no one could steal those that were his out of his hands.
So who is he talking about?
Since his comments were directed at the Pharisees we have to go back to the idea that he talking about Israel and the religious leadership.
This robber is after the chosen.
- The first possible explanation of who the thief is would be the pharisees.Do we still call them Pharisees today? No, so in general we are talking about the religious Jews that have rejected Jesus Christ, in spite of the living truth.This has recently become more real to me, as we now have a Jewish, female friend. She is filled with head knowledge but because the Jewish leadership says, we are still waiting for the Messiah, to this point she, like them, is refusing to accept Jesus Christ.
- The alternate point of view would be to project this toward the last days, also a viable option.While the chosen people are still the primary victims of the deception of the false prophet they are not the only ones subject to it. Again, putting flesh and blood on this I can relate this to an acquaintance of mine who is theologically trained. I asked him openly, what it would take for him to be deceived. He evaded the question but the possibility is there.
How could this be? Really?
How is anyone brainwashed? Their defenses are progressively attacked and broken down. Our environment is doing this even as we speak. Why do you get the most unreasonable and ill thought responses from people you used to deem responsible.
How am I supposed to respond to this?
If you are a believer:
Stay in the Word. Make it a regular part of your life. Jesus is the truth, nothing else. Nothing else matters. We are not to merely walk off our jobs and live in bomb shelters. We are instructed though to be wise. That means, in my mind, to pay attention to what is going on around you. Jesus told us to watch for clues. One of the massive clues was Israel becoming a nation. For over 2000 years people have been awaiting His return and making predictions. Some will continue to nail God down to the minute or day. All I know is that we are in the final innings of the ball game.
Scripture is clear:
Matthew 24:32-34 KJV Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh: (33) So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. (34) Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Preach the good news of Jesus Christ whenever possible. We have a hope and the promise of his coming to remove us from the destruction that is coming upon the earth. But you must understand that like Noah you are going to feel the rain coming as God removes his church.
Genesis 7:12-13 ESV And rain fell upon the earth forty days and forty nights. (13) On the very same day Noah and his sons, Shem and Ham and Japheth, and Noah's wife and the three wives of his sons with them entered the ark,
And we have a hope of a life with the Father/God. Live like there is no tomorrow, preach the gospel as if this were your last day. A time of darkness is coming when sharing Jesus Christ will be illegal everywhere. Until that day comes spread the hope that is in Jesus Christ like a wildfire.
If you are not a believer:
Consider this somewhat of a warning. In the midst of the chaos there is a person coming that will attempt to pass himself off as Jesus. I suspect, if your television still works, that everyone will be made aware. He will perform miracles, call fire from heaven, and bring rain where there might have been none.
This Jesus of Islam will be the enforcer of Sharia. He will enforce the mark that must be visible indicating your allegiance or subservience. To take this mark will cut you off from the mercies of God. It is the one thing that will do that. Resist this. (A clue here. Religion has been worried over this for years, not clear on what it is or how it will be presented to us. Know this, without it you will not be able to buy or sell anything and that is the major clue. It will also include some allegiance to the antichrist, possibly Allah.)
Jesus will return; it will be dramatic; nothing secretive about it, for scripture tells us that every eye shall see him. He will return as warrior to fight against anyone that chooses to stand against him. And this time the Messiah will plant his feet upon the Mount of Olives.
Turn to him now, even if the church has gone. Call upon him. Receive His Holy Spirit and call upon that holy spirit to fill you and guide you.
Should you find yourself here after the snatching away of the Christians, find a bible and turn to Joel chapter two and read it. It is talking about you. Should you come to the Lord now the promises of Joel chapter 2 are yours even now.
There will be two witnesses, sent from God. (You will know it when they come) They will stand in the streets of Jerusalem and preach for three years. Use these men as an example of how you are to perform.
Revelation 11:2-12 ESV but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they (the they of this passage is most likely the Palestinian Muslims) will trample the holy city for forty-two months. (3) And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth." (4) These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. (5) And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. (6) They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. (7) And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, (8) and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. (9) For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, (10) and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. (11) But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them. (12) Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, "Come up here!" And they went up to heaven in a cloud, and their enemies watched them.
If you have been paying attention to the news then you are aware that at the date of this posting our American President has been pushing Israel hard to give up the temple mount and most of Jerusalem. That cannot happen. God will not tolerate it. But know this, something will happen soon that will change the dynamics in Jerusalem and the Temple will be built, on that mount. Do you really think that Hamas will give that up readily? Not a chance.
I am not the great evangelist, but should decide that you need come to this Jesus Christ, no matter what the reason, then perhaps praying something like this prayer I included can turn your life around.
Father, I turn my life over to you fully and completely. I cannot do this on my own anymore and I ask your Son Jesus Christ, the one who died so that I could obtain forgiveness of sins and was raised from the dead so that I could have a life and a hope in you. Father receive me into your kingdom. I thank you for making me your child this day and giving me your life. I know that you will never leave or forsake me from this day forward, and that you will come again to take me to my home with you.
- (2013) T2:W3 Combined - I Am The Gate (northsydneyiscf.wordpress.com)
- John 10: 1-6 (llanghi2010.wordpress.com)
- Steal, Kill, Destroy (goodnewsnow.wordpress.com)
- "Jesus, A Miracle Worker/The Shepherd And His Flock (robertadennisblog.wordpress.com)
- Why Not Me? (jeremiah2911club.wordpress.com)
- Handling temptations: walking in freedom (cloud10site.wordpress.com)