Escorting the King of Kings?

In the previous article (Rapture Ready?) on the pre-tribulation ‘Rapture’ (PTR) we looked at, among other things, the primary passage used to support the doctrine, namely 1 Thessalonians 4:15–17. Parallel and similarly-themed passages to these Thessalonian verses—ones mentioning a “trumpet” in the context of the gathering of believers (both dead and alive)—were shown not to support the PTR. In fact, these parallel passages suggest a completely different understanding, which in turn suggests a non-PTR interpretation in the Thessalonian passage.

In this post we will more closely analyze this same passage. Understanding Paul’s primary and secondary purposes in preparing this passage will further support our non-PTR position. At the same time, this may provoke other intriguing lines of inquiry.

Additional Revelation

Before proceeding further, however, I shall provide two additional passages relating to Jesus’ Parousia. These were left off the preceding article due to length. They are presented here as further evidence for the previous article’s stance as well as background for the current one. Both are from Revelation. The first is the seventh of seven trumpets (cf. Rev 10:7), which is the last trumpet of all:

11:15 Then the seventh angel trumpeted, and [then] there were loud voices in heaven, saying: The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever. 16 Then the twenty-four elders, who sit upon their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God 17 saying: We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and reign. 18 The nations/people were enraged, but then came your wrath and the time for the dead to be judged—and to reward your bond-servants: the prophets, the saints, and those who fear your name, the small and the great—and to destroy those who destroy the earth.

The above passage has its own focal points, yet this last of seven trumpets is certainly the same as the “last trumpet” of 1Corinthians 15:52—and, as pointed out in the previous article, the Corinthian passage is a parallel to 1Thess 4:15–17. Though the Parousia and the gathering of the saints are not explicitly mentioned, both are implied, given the other similarly-themed passages which do mention them. That is, the Parousia and gathering are assumed to be nearly coincident with the trumpet sound yet prior to he shall reign forever and ever (compare And so we shall be forever with the Lord in 1Thess 4:17). Judgment, in both its negative (“wrath”) and positive (“reward”) aspects, is one of the foci (cf. Matt 25:31–46, the sheep and goats). And judgment is the sole focus of the remaining Revelation passage we will explore:

14:14 Then I saw—behold!—a white cloud. And sitting upon this cloud was one like a son of man—upon his head a golden crown and in his hand a sharp sickle. 15 And then another angel/messenger came out of the temple crying out in a loud voice to the one sitting upon the cloud: Apply your sickle and reap! For the hour has come to reap, because ripe is the earth’s harvest. 16 And the one sitting upon the clouds thrust his sickle upon the earth and the earth was harvested.

The imagery of one like a son of man seated upon this cloud evokes both Daniel 7:13 (cf. Rev 1:7, 13–14) and Matt 24:30. One might initially mistake this passage as indicating negative judgment (cf. Joel 3:13)—perhaps especially considering the “sharp sickle” symbol—but that would misinterpret the ‘reaping of the harvest’ metaphor here and in its broader context. See Matt 3:11–12/Luke 3:16–17 and the parable of the weeds (Matt 13:24–30) for comparison. To keep in proper context, this Revelation passage (14:14–16) should be contrasted with the wrath of God expressly stated in the verses immediately following it (14:17–20;1 cf. 1Thess 5:3). Thus, Revelation 14:14–16 is the harvesting of believers—though no distinction is made between those still alive and the dead in Christ.

As Paul states in 1Thess 5:9: For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. We are saved from wrath, but not necessarily from tribulation (just ask the Thessalonians). We may suffer at the hands of our enemies (or not), but we will not suffer God’s wrath. Believers are whisked away just prior to God’s wrath pouring out upon the earth on the Day of the Lord.

A Closer Look

Now we will scrutinize the Thessalonians passage, adding verse 18 (1Thess 4:13–18):

4:13 Now brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who are sleeping, so that you will not grieve as the rest—those who have no hope. 14 For since we believe Jesus died and rose again, in this way also God will bring those who have fallen asleep through Jesus along with Him [Jesus]. 15 For this we say to you, by word of the Lord: We who are alive, those remaining until the coming [Parousia] of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 Because He, the Lord, will descend from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17 then we who are alive, those remaining, shall be caught up [harpazō, ‘raptured’] together along with them, in the clouds, to meet [eis apantēsin] the Lord in the air. And so we shall be forever with the Lord. 18 So, encourage one another with these words.

Paul opens with a plea for the Thessalonians not to grieve about the dead in Christ (13–14) and closes with an exhortation to encourage each other (18). There seems to have been some mistaken notion about the ‘fate’ of the dead in Christ (13–14). The Thessalonian ekklēsia was primarily, if not exclusively, from a pagan background.2 Accordingly, they believed the dead had no positive future. Thus, Paul wanted to remind (or apprise) them of our future resurrection hope (14–17)—and the disposition of those surviving until Jesus’ Parousia. This future meeting of all believers dead and alive with Christ at the Parousia would provide the reason they could “encourage one another” (18) in the (then) present time.

So, Paul’s primary objective in this passage was to correct their misunderstanding—whatever this was exactly—regarding the dead in Christ (“those who have fallen asleep through Jesus”). And, toward this end, Paul quite likely went beyond what most English readers would perceive. That is, in his use of the verb harpazō (“caught up”) he may well have consciously repurposed this term (17) from pagan ideology, as Malherbe asserts:

Of special interest is the consolation tradition, which casts light on Paul’s use [of harpazō] and shows once more how he turns conventional expressions to a pastoral use. Epitaphs lament Fate’s snatching (harpazein) away the dead from their loved ones to Hades . . . Letters of condolence then use harpazein and its cognates in addressing or speaking of the grief stricken . . .

 . . . [Paul’s] purpose is to console . . . The dead in Christ will rise, and their separation from those who were left is overcome as, ironically, they are snatched up together with them. In a neat twist, Paul uses the conventional language of grief to comfort. He does not say who snatches them up, but v 14 would seem to indicate that it is God who gathers them together by snatching them up.3

In other words, Paul took a term (harpazō) with a negative connotation and inverted it. Instead of “Fate” ‘snatching’ all the dead to Hades forever, God will ‘snatch’ the dead in Christ together with those believers still alive at Jesus’ Parousia. We will all then meet Him “in the air”. The Apostle linguistically ties this idea together in his use of “along with Him [Jesus]” (syn autō̹) in verse 14 and “together along with them” (hama syn autois) in 17. In verse 14 God will bring/lead the dead in Christ along with Jesus, i.e., once the dead arise as Jesus had done God will snatch them (together with those yet alive) to meet Jesus in the air (17).4 As Paul states in his first Corinthian epistle, For the [last] trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed (15:52).

In service of his primary objective, Paul necessarily had to explain some end time events. However, importantly, this was subsidiary. Similarly, in the immediately following section (5:1–11), Paul’s primary purpose is again pastoral, with a brief explanation of eschatology toward that goal. As Green helpfully explains in his overview of 1Thessalonians 5:1–11,

The purpose of the whole discussion of this theme is pastoral and not speculative (v. 11; cf. 4:13, 18). Paul demonstrates no interest in fueling an apocalyptic perspective in order to hypothesize about the end or to foster escapism. The teaching about final events is meant to inform and encourage them in their daily life and conduct. Clear thinking about the end is designed to help them live as true Christians in the present.5

The Day of the Lord comes as “a thief in the night” (5:2) solely with respect to unbelievers (5:3), not to believers, who will not be caught by surprise (5:4; cf. Luke 21:29–31). Importantly, note that Paul linguistically ties this section together with the previous section (1Thess 4:13–18): “Jesus died for us, so whether awake [alive] or sleeping [dead] we will live together along with Him (hama syn autō̹)” (5:10). Following this affirmation, Paul provides his concluding exhortation (5:11).

Where Do We Go From There?

An unanswered question in the Thessalonians passage—and not explicitly answered elsewhere in Scripture—is this: Where do we go after meeting Jesus “in the air”? Clearly, at the Parousia Jesus will descend from heaven (16), while believers will be caught up with Him “in the clouds” (17). One comes down, the others up. But once we meet “in the air”, where do we believers go? Do believers and Jesus go together, or do believers continue on to one destination, while Jesus proceeds to another?

In the PTR view, Jesus reverses course and believers continue on, escorting Him to heaven.6 But the analyses in this and the preceding article related to it have shown the PTR view to be insupportable when placed in the broader context of Scripture as a whole. Taking the similarly-themed passages as a group, the most logical movement for Jesus is to continue earthward, or, alternatively, to remain in the clouds to pour out His wrath upon the earth from there. Where, then, would believers go (or remain)? Scripture elsewhere records judgment/rewards at the end of the age (e.g., Daniel 12:1–3; John 5:28–29).

The remainder of this article will be necessarily speculative in probing for answers to this question of movement and/or destination. To be clear at the outset, I do not wish to make any firm conclusions from any of the data presented below. I am merely providing the following as intriguing [to me anyway] food for thought. That said, let’s dive into the data!

In 1Thess 4:16 the first command could be understood as a battle cry (see various English versions: “shout of command”, “cry of command”, etc.). And the “trumpet of God” could be similarly understood. Adding the “voice of the archangel”, Witherington observes, “The images are martial, as if Jesus were summoning His army.”7 These images accord well with the battle imagery of the Rider on the White Horse (Rev 19:11–16). Note that His army here includes those “wearing fine linen, pure white” (19:14; cf. 19:7–8; 7:9, 13–14). And Paul states something intriguing in 1Cor 6:2–3, almost in passing: “Do you not know that the saints/holy ones (hoi agioi) will judge the world? . . . Do you not know we will judge angels?” When are we to judge the world and the angels? Whatever the timing, this idea must be harmonized with God’s clear words, “Vengeance is mine” (Deut 32:35; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30).

In another article on CrossWise it was noted that the term Parousia had been used in antiquity for the fanfare surrounding the arrival of a king, ruler, or dignitary (see definition A2 here). The ISBE records how parousia was found in various inscriptions, noting specifically its application to the Greek god of medicine:

In Hellenistic Greek it was used for the arrival of a ruler at a place, as is evidenced by inscriptions in Egypt, Asia Minor, etc. Indeed, in an Epidaurus inscription of the 3rd century BC…‘Parousia’ is applied to a manifestation of Aesculapius [Aσκληπιός Asklēpiós]. Consequently, the adoption of Greek-speaking Christians of a word that already contained full regal and even Divine concepts was perfectly natural.8

Considering their pagan background, surely the Thessalonians understood Paul’s intention behind his use of Parousia. Such a regal backdrop can add substance to the battle imagery noted earlier. But there is even more to consider here.

The words translated “to meet” in 1Thess 4:17 are from the Greek eis apantēsin. This is an accusative (direct object) phrase, and the infinitive “to meet” in translation is somewhat of a compromise. The Greek is actually a preposition (eis, “into”, “in”, “for”) and noun (apantēsin, “meeting”). We might think of it more along the lines of eis martyrian in John 1:7: “This man came for testimony, to witness about the Light.” As such it would be more like: “for a meeting with the Lord in the air”.9

With that background, we can proceed further. Two different Christian sources claim this noun apantēsis (in its accusative form apantēsin) carried particular significance in Hellenistic culture:

According to 1 Th. 4:17 . . . there will be a rapture eis apantēsin tou kyriou eis aera [“to meet the Lord in the air”]. The word apantēsis (also hupantēsis . . .) is to be understood as a technical term for a civic custom of antiquity whereby a public welcome was accorded by a city to important visitors. Similarly, when Christians leave the gates of the world, they will welcome Christ in the aēr [“air”], acclaiming Him as kyrios [“Lord”].10

The word seems to have been a kind of technical term for the official welcome of a newly arrived dignitary—a usage which accords excellently with its New Testament usage.11

Before exploring the New Testament (NT) examples, a selection from historian Polybius (Histories, V 26:8–9) will illustrate its usage in Hellenistic culture near-contemporaneous with Scripture. Note that Polybius also uses a verb form (apantaō) of this noun to restate the initial meeting, and he uses a separate verb (gignomai, “came”) to record the escort back to Corinth:

So, with Apelles nearing Corinth, Leontius, Ptolemy and Megaleas—commanders of the foot soldiers and the other army divisions—with great urgency, spurred the young men to go for the meeting [eis tēn apantēsin] with him [Apelles]. Consequently, Apelles came [to Corinth] with great fanfare, due to the multitude of soldiers and officers who had come to meet [apantēsantōn] him, and marched directly to the royal court.12

Note that the welcoming party would first go out with the purpose of meeting the dignitary en route, and then turn back toward their own locale to accompany him for the remainder of his journey.

Backing up for a moment, it might prove beneficial to further define both apantēsis and hupantēsis. Each is a compound of a preposition + noun. The first is from the verb apantaō: apo (“from”) + antaō (from anti, meaning “against”, “opposite”, “instead of”). Danker defines the term ‘come opposite to’, hence ‘meet face to face’.13 The second is from the verb hupantaō: hupo (“under”, “below”) + antaō, defined as draw up close for encounter.14 The two are synonyms but may well have different nuances, depending on context.

The first NT passage we will explore is, appropriately, in the long discourse on the Mount of Olives (Matthew 24:1–25:46), which contains Jesus’ teaching on the end times. The passage in question is known as The Parable of the Ten Virgins:

25:1 “At that time the Kingdom of Heaven will be like ten virgins taking their lamps to meet [eis hupantēsin] the Bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were foolish, yet five wise. 3 For the foolish taking their lamps had not taken any oil with them, 4 but the wise had taken flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 Because of the Bridegroom’s long delay, they all became tired and fell asleep. 6 But in the middle of the night came a shout, ‘Look, the Bridegroom! Come out to meet [eis apantēsin] Him!’ 7 So all those virgins arose, and they trimmed their lamps. 8 Then the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil because our lamps are burning low.’ 9 But the wise replied, saying, ‘No, there may not be enough for both us and you. Go instead to the sellers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 But as they were leaving to buy, the Bridegroom arrived, and those who were ready entered the wedding with Him. Then the door closed. 11 Later the remaining virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us!’ 12 Replying, He said, ‘Amen, I say to you: I do not know you.’ 13 So, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

The substance of this parable does not quite fit the pattern of going out to meet the dignitary, and then accompanying him back to the originating locale. However, it does match a civic custom of antiquity whereby a public welcome was accorded by a city to important visitors. And the five wise did accompany Him to the wedding. Moreover, the content is thematically related to both 1Thess 4:13–18 and 1Thess 5:1–11. So it is useful for analysis.

As with any parable, it can be perilous to attempt to make concrete parallels to the figurative language. But it would be safe here to understand the oil as indicating degree of readiness. In this sense, the oil could signify the amount of Holy Spirit infilling (Eph 5:15–21). If so, this idea of purchasing oil could be understood as akin to Simon Magus, aka Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:9–24)—except maybe for the fact that the five wise suggested the idea to the foolish. Whatever the case, it is clear that Jesus (the Bridegroom) ‘does not know’ the foolish (cf. Matt 7:21–23). All ten desired to meet Jesus, but half were not ready, thereby missing the wedding (Rev 19:6–9; cf. 19:17–18).

The next NT selection for consideration is in Acts 28, which follows the pattern of the Polybius’ passage. While on his journey to Rome, Paul is welcomed by some brothers from Rome, and the brothers accompany him for the rest of his trip:15

28:15 After hearing the things concerning us, the brothers from there [Rome] came up to Appias’ Forum and Three Taverns to greet (eis apantēsin) us. Upon seeing them, Paul, thanking God, was encouraged. 16 So when we entered [eiserchomai] into Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

The next passage, like the first, is from Matthew’s Gospel. But it is very different in that it is regarding Jesus’ encounter with the two demon-possessed men from the land of the Gadarenes, whom he exorcises by sending the demons into nearby swine:

8:28 Upon His arrival to the other side, to the land of the Gadarenes, two demon-possessed men, coming out of the tombs—exceedingly violent, such that no one is able to pass through that way—confronted [hupantaō] Him. 29 Excitedly they cried out, “What is it between us and you, Son of God? Have you come here to torture us before the appointed time?” 30 Off in the distance from them was a herd of many swine feeding. 31 So the demons begged Him, saying, “If you cast us out, send us into the herd of swine.” 32 And He said to them, “Go!” So, after they came out, they went into the swine. Immediately, the entire herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea and died in the waters! 33 Those who were tending the pigs fled; and then, going into town, they reported all, especially concerning the two demon-possessed men. 34 Then the whole town left to confront [eis hupantēsin] Jesus. Upon seeing Him, they urged that he should turn away [metabainō] from their borders.

Given the context, I decided to translate to the stronger “confronted”/“to confront” instead of simply “meeting”. The recurrence of the two words (verb in 28, noun in 34) may have been intended as a linguistic framing device to tie the story together. The final verse (34) is the primary one to analyze here, for it begins with the accusative eis hupantēsin and ends with the verb “turn away” (metabainō). I perceive the townspeople’s message here as one of ‘go away and don’t come back!’ Accordingly, I interpret this passage: After Jesus drove the demons out of the two men and into the herd of pigs, the townspeople drove Jesus from their town to any other!

In any case, verse 34 at least partly follows the pattern— it does not specify whether or not they escorted Jesus back to the shoreline—though in a negative way. That is, Jesus is not considered a dignitary by the townspeople. However, this could be a case of irony. That is, though the townspeople saw Jesus as villainous, the fact that they intercepted Him and essentially drove Him out of town, follows this pattern as if He were the dignitary He really is!

Tangentially, though still relatedly, observe the demons’ question to Jesus regarding “the appointed time”. Is this the time believers will “judge angels”?

The final passage to consider is The Triumphal Entry in John’s Gospel (John 12:12–15):

12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come for the Feast, after hearing Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took palm branches and came to welcome [eis hupantēsin] Him, shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD: the King of Israel!” 14 Then Jesus, finding a young donkey, sat upon it, as it is written: 15 “Do not be afraid, Daughter of Zion. Behold! Your King is coming, sitting upon a donkey’s colt!”

 . . . 17 Now the crowd—those who were with Him when He called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead—continued bearing testimony. 18 Because of this also, the crowd greeted [hupantaō] Him—for they heard He had performed that miracle.

Though not explicit, it is strongly implied that those who went out with palm branches to welcome Jesus also escorted Him into Jerusalem. This, then, fits the Polybius pattern.

Verses 17–18 may not be directly related to The Triumphal Entry, but they do exhibit a similar pattern to the Polybius passage. The difference is that a verbal form is used instead of the accusative phrase.

What Can Be Concluded?

Having provided the applicable Hellenistic background and all the NT examples corresponding to or approximating this background, what, if anything, can we make of the data? Can any of this be used in attempting to determine where believers go immediately after our meeting in the air with Jesus?

What do you think?

____________________________

1 Note that these clusters of grapes are from the vine of the earth, that is, they get their sustenance from the earth as opposed to from the Lord (cf. John 15:1–17).

2 See 1Thess 1:9 how you turned from idols to serve the living and true God.

3 Abraham J. Malherbe, The Letters to the Thessalonians, The Anchor Yale Bible; Accordance electronic ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), p 276. Emphasis added.

4 “Those who have fallen asleep through Jesus” will rise from the dead first, then both the newly-arisen/formerly-‘sleeping’ in Christ and believers yet still alive will be ‘snatched’ up together. This sequence is the most faithful to the text. It is probably only a nanosecond after the dead arise that both these newly-arisen and the remaining believers are ‘snatched’ up together by God to meet Jesus in the air. In this way, all believers will be ‘snatched’ up together simultaneously in order to have one single meeting “in the clouds” with Jesus. This concurs with Paul’s statement that those remaining (those alive) when Jesus comes “will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep”—the living will not precede the dead in Christ, but the dead in Christ will not precede those yet alive either, with respect to the meeting in the clouds. Put simply, we are all ‘snatched’ together (hama) “to meet the Lord in the air”.  Accordingly, the ‘Rapture’ is a ‘snatching’ of both the newly-raised-formerly-‘sleeping’and those still alive in Christ at His Parousia. This, then, conforms to the one gathering of believers in Matthew 24:31 and the one harvesting of believers in Rev 14:14–16. This also concurs with 1Cor 15:51–52: Take note! I tell you a mystery: Not all will sleep, but all will be changed—in an instant, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we [those yet living] will be changed. Paul then refers to the living as “the mortal”, which will be changed to “immortality” (15:53). In other words, Paul makes a distinction between the two groups and always places the dead before the living in the texts. Thus, all these passages easily harmonize by judiciously employing Occam’s razor.

5 Gene L. Green, The Letters to the Thessalonians, Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC); Accordance electronic ed., OakTree Software, Inc. Version 2.5 (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002), p 230. Emphasis added.

6 Very likely due to a committed PTR stance, Robert L. Thomas (“1 Thessalonians”, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians – Philemon, rev. ed., Tremper Longman III & David E. Garland, gen. eds. [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006]) states: Since God the Father is in heaven, the verb ά̓ξεί (axei, “will bring” . . .) indicates that the destination of the movement of Jesus and those with him in this verse is upward, not downward. At this moment of Jesus’ return in the air, the company named will not move back to the earth but toward the Father’s presence in heaven . . . (p 418). But this does not necessarily follow.

7 Ben Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2006), p 138.

8 Burton Scott Easton, “Parousia”, in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, James Orr, Gen Ed., 1st Ed. (1915), prepared by Accordance/Oak Tree Software, Inc. Version 2.4, para 43388

9 I retained “to meet” in my translation above because no other English version translated it “for a meeting” and I did not wish to cause any initial confusion. It was decided to leave the explanation of “for a meeting” for later—here—when explaining this speculative portion.

10 Erik Peterson, “ἀπάντησις”, in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (TDNT), G. Kittel & G. Friedrich, eds.; transl. G. W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–76), p 1:380; Greek transliterated, bold added.

11 J.H. Moulton & G. Milligan, The Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985), p 53.

12 Polybius, Histories, V.26.8–9 [Book 5, Chapter 26, section 8–9] (my transl.); Greek text [transliterated above] Theodorus Büttner-Wobst after L. Dindorf, 1893, courtesy Perseus Digital Library, Tufts University, specifically  here.

13 Frederick W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2009), p 40. Danker is the “D” in BDAG and the older BAGD.

14 Danker, Concise Lexicon, p 361.

15 Without a firm grasp of ancient geography—and Luke’s rather confusing narration in this part—it is difficult to follow Paul’s journey and that of the brothers who wish to welcome him; so, I’ll rely on the almost always reliable F. F. Bruce (1 & 2 Thessalonians, Word Biblical Commentary [Waco, TX: Word Books, 1982]): Cf. . . . Acts 28:15, where the Christians from Rome walk south along the Appian Way to meet Paul and his company (eis apantēsin hēmin) and escort them on the remainder of their journey to Rome (pp 102–103).

Bethel to Feature Bob Jones at Upcoming Prophetic Conference

In an advertisement on Bethel’s website is an upcoming “prophetic conference” – Piercing The Darkness – to be held at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church February 23 – 25, 2011.  Featured speakers are Bob Jones, Joseph Garlington, Graham Cooke and Bethel’s own Kris Vallotton.  This blog post will focus on dangerous false prophet Bob Jones.

Yes, false prophet.  I do not state these words lightly.  This is stated not just because some of his “prophetic words” with specific parameters have proven false – even though this is true.  It is said because, in addition, some of his “words” are downright anti-Biblical, not just extra-Biblical.  So, who is Bob Jones?   Here’s the blurb from the upcoming conference:

“When only seven years old and walking on a dirt road in Arkansas; the Arch Angel [sic] Gabriel appeared to Bob Jones on a white horse and blew a double silver trumpet in his face.  He then threw an old bull skin mantle at Bob’s feet.  Although fearful at the time he ran, however, many years later he returned to pick up that old mantle which is that of a Seer Prophet.  Bob Jones is known as a contemporary prophet with a great love for the Lord Jesus and His truth.  His prophesies have spanned over four decades as the Lord has enabled him to foretell earthquakes, tidal waves, comets and weather patterns.  Like Daniel who functioned at an incredible level, Bob has often told leaders their dreams and experiences, as well as their interpretation.

 “After his death experience in 1975 God sent him back to minister to church leadership and reach the multitudes with His love, truth and equipping the saints with understanding of the spiritual gifts.  God promised Bob that he would see the beginning of one billion souls coming into the kingdom in one great wave of the end time harvest.

 “Bob moves with a clear revelatory gifting, accompanied by gifts of healing and miracles.” [all as per original]

Beyond a Shadow of a Drought

Back in the mid 1980’s to early ‘90’s Bob Jones was affiliated with Mike Bickle and Kansas City Fellowship.  He, along with Paul Cain were named as “Kansas City Prophets” who provided “foundational revelation” regarding IHOP according to Mike Bickle.Taped copies of some of their conversations were distributed and these were transcribed and published by a few ministries which exposed some of these false prophesies and false doctrines. 

The late Ernie Gruen put out a document which compiled much of this material; and, this document was posted online in pdf form by Tricia Booth (formerly Tillin) with additional comments (in red) added.  It is titled “Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries)” and it can be viewed on Tricia Booth’s site.[1]

On pages 41-42 (“A Fabricated Drought”)[2] is a report of a “prophetic word” of a drought purported to have occurred for three months from “the end of May” until “August 23rd” 1983 as a “sign in the heavens” in Kansas City, MO.  The August 23rd date was to be when the rains would come very definitively as confirmation.  Yet, a simple search of the National Weather Service and the local newspaper proved otherwise. Incidentally, this “drought” is still spoken of as fulfilled prophecy by Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer (IHOP) in their “Encountering Jesus” series asserting that the actual drought began on July 1st and lasted till October 11th.  Bickle’s claim is that they “didn’t get all the details right” initially which may have something to do with the fact that June actually had higher than normal rainfall that year.  Question: why would the confirmation date of August 23rd (actual rainfall on the 23rd was .32”) be right in the middle of this “prophetic” drought?  Wouldn’t the confirmation date be at the end instead?  This “Encountering Jesus” series is available as a free download. [see Disc 4 @ 30:40 – 42:11][3]  I’ll let the reader view the rest of this document which contains quite a bit of eye opening info.

Apparently, some have tried to discredit Ernie Gruen and his report claiming that he later recanted; however, the guys over at The Grey Coats were able to contact Gruen himself; and, in the ensuing correspondence he denied these allegations.[4] 

The New Breed of Elected Seeds 

Referenced and quoted in this document is a Kansas City Fellowship tape titled “Visions & Revelations” containing conversations of Mike Bickle and Bob Jones from Fall 1988 (denoted as “F88”).  This same tape is referenced and transcribed by Jewel Grewe (formerly van der Merwe) in one of her Discernment Newsletters from September, 1990.  Here’s a partial transcription:

“[They] will possess the Spirit without measure – for they are the best of all the generations that have ever been upon the face of the earth.  And the best of all generations are those ELECTED SEEDS that will glorify Christ in the last days. …they will move into things of the supernatural that no one has ever moved in before.  Every miracle, sign and wonder – they’ll move in the power that Christ did.… …They themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to death itself underneath their feet and to glorify Christ in every way and the church that is raising up in the government [NAR] will be the head and the covering for them…the chosen generation of history that will go beyond all the others in power…. …this generation of the young people that are coming are going to see the beginning of this world-wide NEW ORDER. …it is going to change the expression of Christianity in the earth in a generation.”  [5] [Caps as per original; emphasis added.  See also see pp 67-69 of Gruen document.]

In the June, 1990 Discernment Newsletter, this same tape was referred to yet again: 

“those ELECTED SEEDS… …will move into the things of the supernatural that no one has ever seen in the  Bible – they’ll move in it consistently. …they themselves will be that generation that’s raised up to put death itself underneath their feet. …a Church that has reached the full maturity of the god-man!” [6] [Caps as per original; emphasis added.  See also see pp 59, 68-69 of Gruen document]

According to Jones’ words here, these “elected seeds,” this “chosen generation,” will put death “underneath their feet” which contradicts Scripture as this is what Jesus Christ will do [I Corinthians 15:24-27] NOT any part of the “Church.”  Individual Christians will NOT conquer death as it is Christ Himself who “gives us the victory” [I Corinthians 15:57 NIV].  And, quite obviously, we DO NOT ever reach “full maturity of the god-man!”  This is Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) teaching which is heretical and anti-Biblical since Christians do not inherit our glorified bodies [I Corinthians 15:42-55] until the Rapture and/or the end of the age after Jesus returns (depending upon one’s view of eschatology) and we are NEVER to be ‘god-men’ as Jesus Christ is the unique, one-and-only God-man.  MSoG has been discussed in the Bill Johnson’s ‘Born Again’ Jesus, Part II blog post [starting at footnote 33].

Another name for these “elected seeds” is “New Breed.”  In a DVD available at Rick Joyner’s MorningStar Ministries[7] titled “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08” [From August 8, 2008 obviously] Bob Jones defines this New Breed.  Here’s a YouTube video[8] which provides the first bit of it.  The full transcription (with some repetitions omitted) of Bob Jones follows:

The New Breed is just simply the body of Christ is gonna grow up.  …I don’t believe you’re in a revival which God does it all.  It’s beautiful light and when He leaves it, it dies again. What He’s doing now is bringing you to a level of maturity where you grow up.  And, if you grow up you’ll never regress, you’ll continue progress year by year.   So, what he’s talking about is; the New Breed is this: it’s Romans 1:4 – the spirit of holiness.  So, for years I tried to get understanding of what the spirit of holiness is for it’s different than the Holy Spirit.

So, last Saturday, he spoke to me about a New Breed of people.  And, he said, ‘I don’t want to get in front of them, I want you to get behind them.  They’ll be close to the ages of 25 and 40… this is who the New Breed is.’

…In this trance I went into at 3 o’clock last Saturday I could ask questions – I began to ask questions.  ‘What is this New Breed?’ The New Breed will be those that are partaker of the divine nature.  As you begin to grow into the likeness of Christ you’re gonna begin to partake of the divine nature.  And, once you begin to grow up in that-away you’ll continue to mature until you look like Christ all over the world.  Jesus was one person.  Now get ready for Jesuses [sic; plural of “Jesus”] all over the world.  Then, he began to tell me that those who have partaker of his divine nature [sic] shall be a friend with God – John  15:15.  And, those that are a friend with God – they can ask him a question and he’ll answer ‘em…It’s time that when you ask questions that you begin to get answers.

So, that divine nature is a friend.  It’s really Paul’s prayer.  I believe God is answering Paul’s prayer in Galatians 4:19 ‘I travail for you, I pray for you until Christ be formed in you.’  There are Christians on the earth now that are growing in maturity to where Christ is being formed in you.  If Christ is being formed in you then when you speak you’ll speak as Christ did.  And, you’ll have also authority in this.  Then, in this he was saying ‘this then will be a generation that will do nothing apart from the Father.’  So, I think the main thing you’re getting ready for is a generation for the fathers to come back in.  And, I think the first one that’s gonna come back is Papa.  For Jesus came back over …2000 years ago, The Holy Spirit came over 100 years ago, this last revelation is who your Daddy is.  And, I think this is what’s getting ready – is Papa’s getting ready to reveal his family.  And, His family, what He lacks in you is what was in His Son.  So, there are those who’s gonna begin to shine like the Son.  And, that divine nature will have authority over all the works of the enemy.  So, we’re in a key time. 

I’ve been back here 33 years today.  33 years ago I stood before the Lord.   I looked into His eyes.  To be honest with ya, I didn’t want to come back because it had been so hard.  But, He asked… He told me,” if you’ll go back you’ll see the greatest wave of all time in evangelism.  I’m gonna bring over a billion youth into myself.”  Now, these that’s between 25 and 40 are youth leaders.  Getting ready for a birthing of youth beyond anything you’ve ever seen before.  And, their main job will be maturin’ youth.  So, literally, those that are gonna be youth leaders have gotta have a greater commitment than anybody else because this youth is the ones that’s really gonna take it to every corner in the earth.  And, what he’s after now is the 25 to 40’s which are harvesters.  He wants to bring in the harvesters for the harvest.  The next 3 years is gonna be harvesting harvesters.  For, the church is not ready for a harvest yet — she has not got enough people to harvest it.  But, within 3 years you will have.  And, those that have that authority of Jesus Christ — youth are looking for an absolute – it’s in the Cross, in the blood of Jesus Christ.  So, get ready.  Things have changed.  The New Breed – let’s get behind them.  For they’re gonna bring the youth behind them.  It’s a change of times.  The torch is being transferred from the old generation to this 25 to 40.  This is the New Breed. [9] [emphasis added]

Coming into that Divine Nature of Jesus?

This “word” above is also posted on Bob Jones’ site in a truncated version[10].  While there are many things that can be discussed, I wish to focus primarily on two: 1) the “divine nature;” and, 2) Paul’s prayer in Galatians 4:19.  Going back for a moment to the Gruen document mentioned above, here’s a quote of Bob Jones:

“You that are here now, you’ll be moving into the fivefold ministries, but your children will be moving into the ministries of perfection, coming into that divine nature of Jesus Christ…” [11] [emphasis added]

First, absolutely NO ONE has a divine nature except for the Godhead.  We are born in sin and the sin nature never leaves us.  However, all true Christians are “partakers of the divine nature” as we all have the indwelling Holy Spirit.  Here are the verses which speak of this in II Peter 1:2-4:

2Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, 3as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, 4by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. [NKJV]

Matthew Henry’s Commentary explains verse 4 above:

“…Those who receive the promises of the gospel partake of the divine nature.  They are renewed in the spirit of their mind, after the image of God, in knowledge, righteousness, and holiness; their hearts are set for God and his service…” [12] [emphasis in original]

And, the NIV Study Bible text note for verse 4 provides further explanation:

“…Does not indicate that Christians become divine in any sense, but only that we are indwelt by God through the Holy Spirit (see John 14:16-17).  Our humanity and his deity, as well as the human personality and the divine, remain distinct and separate. [13]

Birthing New Doctrine

Second, Paul’s prayer of Galatians 4:19 was specifically for the Galatians who were being influenced by the Judaizers who believed that circumcision was necessary for salvation [14]  (see vv 2:11-16).  Here’s the full context of this passage:

17They zealously court you, but for no good; yes, they want to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.  18But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you.  19My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you, 20I would like to be present with you now and to change my tone, for I have doubts about you! [Galatians 4:17-20 NKJV]

According to Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, there is a Jewish idiom: “If one teaches the son of his neighbor the law, the Scripture reckons this the same as though he had begotten him.”[15]  Apparently, this is what the Apostle Paul was referring to in describing himself as being in “labor” (or “travailing” in KJV) for “my dear children.”  Presumably, the Galatians would be familiar with this idiomatic phrase; so, the point would be made.  [This metaphor is also used in I Corinthians 4:14-15.]  Matthew Henry says: 

“…and the great thing which he was in so much pain about, and which he was so earnestly desirous of, was not so much that they might affect him as that Christ might be formed in them, that they might become Christians indeed, and be more confirmed and established in the faith of the gospel….” [16] 

Bob Jones, on the other hand, in the New Breed “word” is using the Scripture passages referred to directly and indirectly to support his “birthing the man-child” doctrine (see pp 11, 124-125 of Gruen report and the Birthpangs article “The Birth of the Manchild”[17]) which is Manifested Sons of God (MSoG) teaching.  This is what he means by “’Jesuses’ all over the world.”         

For Jones’ “prophetic word” regarding the “harvesting harvesters” above to come true (the “next 3 years” from 08/08/08), he has until August of this year.  However, he did say that “this year” would be the “kingdom of God.”  Do I presume this means the consummation of the Kingdom of God will be this year?  This was spoken in his “Shepherd’s Rod” of 2010.  “Shepherd’s Rods” are “prophetic words” he receives on the Day of Atonement each year for the following calendar year.  This is not on Easter day – no, this is on the Jewish Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur (September 17th for 2010), in which Jones gets his “words.”  From the YouTube video of the 2010 “Rod”[18]:

“…make way – not a way – make way for the kingdom of God is coming this year…It’s coming forth out of you this year.  It’s gonna come by faith, comin’ right out of you like an effervescence.   [19]

This sounds like more of the “man-child” doctrine.  That was the first of three parts to this particular “word.”

Casting off Restraints

The second part of the 2010 “Shepherd’s Rod” is to:

“…Cast off all restraints.  For this is the year to soar.  This is the year to go up; this is the year to have those experiences…” [20]

Yes, he wants you to jump into the supernatural realm without regard to the possibility you may be going into the demonic.  This is the sort of thing hyper-charismaticism promotes and Bill Johnson furthers this cause with quotes like the following in his book When Heaven Invades Earth. Talk about circular logic:

“…What do I trust most, my ability to be deceived or His ability to keep me?  And why do you think He gave us the Comforter?  He knew His ways would make us uncomfortable first.” [21]

This reminds me of the testimony of Peter Lanz (a pseudonym to protect his identity), a former occultist and Temple Master in the “Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn,” which was quoted in the Misplaced Trust, part II article [at footnote 23]:

“‘I was taught in ritual magick how to go to different planes of existence outside the physical body…I could create a realm there in which I could practice ritual magick and perfect my magical skills.  What I did on the physical plane was what I practiced on the astral plane through creative visualizations.  Through my will and imagination, I made things happen on the physical plane.  As above, so below! This ritual magick is a manifestation of the power of your will.’” [22] [bolding added]

God takes a Mulligan?

In the third aspect of Jones’ 2010 Shepherd’s Rod he claims he was told to go back to his 2008 Shepherd’s Rod[23] because there had “been a delay” and that God said to “redo it this year” and “several” of “those things” are “going to come forth.”[24]  Does this mean God was confused back in 2008 with regard to the timing of these events and that God took a Mulligan in an attempt to get it right in 2011?

No, God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33).

One of the things prophesied in 2008 was a marked increase of “food poisoning and tainted provisions.”[25]  I could be wrong; but, I don’t recall that being in the news; so, do I presume this will happen this calendar year?  Jones did not specifically mention this.

A New Breed of Apostles and More Grandiose “Words”

Jones also claims in one of his “prophetic words” from November 2008 that there will be an “entirely new apostolic government in place by 2012“[26]:

“…But now we are about to see a restoration of the apostolic – true apostles are arising.”        

“…These apostles will not be appointed by man, but by God….” [27]

Does this mean the current “apostles” such as C. Peter Wagner, Chuck Pierce, et cetera, are false apostles rather than “true apostles” and that they were appointed by man and NOT by God? 

“You can’t persecute the anointing and the glory of God or you’ll miss it.  These apostles will speak to nations and cause a shift in the natural and spiritual.  Revival will break out and new regions will be changed as the Lord establishes new governmental order.  This is not a man thing…this is a God thing! [28]

This future causing of a “shift in the natural and spiritual” reminds me, once again, of the “as above, so below” Peter Lanz refers to above.

“…We will see an entirely new apostolic government in place by 2012.  At this time, we will see the Church being put together and growing into a habitation for the Spirit of God: “…in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:21-22).” [29]

I will comment on the Scripture reference above in just a bit as Jones uses this passage in another “word” below.  Also, in this particular “prophecy” he proclaims that Roe vs.Wade will be overturned[30].  That’s a rather tall order, I’d say.

Round Temple Made of Burnt and Living Stones

In another YouTube video is a “word” regarding a “new” sword of the Spirit[31].  Does this supplement or does it take the place of the current Sword of the Spirit – the Word of God?  While the beginning is troubling enough, it’s the latter part I wish to discuss.  Here’s a partial transcript:

“For as we’ve gone through the things that we have, these people the Lord is getting ready to use…these burnt stones that’s been burned into the body of Christ are getting ready to be built into the temple of living stones so that they can cohabitate with Papa in the spirit — Ephesians 2:22.  So, get ready for a temple to be built now that no flood, no storm can blow down ‘cause it will be a round templeIt’ll be literally like an elevator right into the heavens to where people can go and come literally as [sic] will to begin a relationship in the heavenly realm.   And begin to get the words for themselves.   I believe that our main job is to equip a people that can outgrow us and replace us.   When we have people we’ve trained go passed us, then our life is fruitful.” [32]

First, let’s go to the Ephesians verses and put them in proper context:

19Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit. [Ephesians 2:19-22 NKJV; see also I Peter 2:4-8]

The Apostle Paul is explaining that those of the Church at Ephesus are, because of their faith, a part of the kingdom of God, the body of Christ, whether Jew or Gentile.  Jesus Himself, as the “chief cornerstone” (see Isaiah 28:16; I Peter 2:7), is the bedrock of our faith with the 1st century apostles and prophets providing the remainder of this foundation.  And, once a foundation is laid another is not laid overtop.  The foundation is completed.  We, then, metaphorically are built on top of this foundation as Paul is illustrating to the Ephesian Church.  This includes ALL Christians from the beginning of time [see Hebrews 11, etc.] until the present.  From Matthew Henry’s Commentary:

“…The church is compared to a city…It is also compared to a house, and every converted sinner is one of the domestics, one of the family, a servant and a child in God’s house. In v. 20 the church is compared to a building.  The apostles and prophets are the foundation of that building…Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone. In him both Jews and Gentiles meet, and constitute one church; and Christ supports the building by His strength…[believers] become a sacred society, in which there is much communion between God and his people, as in the temple, they worshipping and serving him…Thus the building, for the nature of it, is a temple, a holy temple; for the church is the place which God hath chosen to put his name there…Not only the universal church is called the temple of God, but particular churches; and even every true believer is a living temple…God dwells in all believers now, they having become the temple of God through the operations of the blessed Spirit, and his dwelling with them now is an earnest of their dwelling together with him to eternity.” [33]

This is the meaning of the Ephesians passages.  Now, what is Bob Jones speaking of?  While he appears to be speaking figuratively, he states the “temple to be built” will be “a round temple.”  How can a metaphorical temple be round in a physical sense?  Or, is there a symbolic meaning of a “round tower;” and, if so, what is it? 

His “word” is rather confusing especially with regard to the two “literally” remarks.  How can this “round temple” – which appears to be referring to Christians figuratively by the context of the first part of this “word” – be “literally like an elevator?”  Did he mean to say “figuratively” rather than “literally?”  And, do individuals “literally” go up and down this “elevator” or “round tower” to the heavenly realm or was this really meant metaphorically?  Either way, how do Christians enter the heavenly realm at will?   This reminds me, yet again, of the testimony of former occultist Peter Lanz above.  

As for the last two sentences of the “word,” these seem to point to the “New Breed.”

While it’s true the Church of living stones – the temple, the collective body of Christ – is still being built, it’s only unfinished because not all have made it into God’s kingdom of believers just yet (II Peter 3:9).  However, all those who are currently in the Body of Christ, the living and the dead, are part of this temple.  On the other hand, Bob Jones claims these “burnt stones” are “getting ready to be built into the temple of living stones;” consequently, if we interpret this symbolically using Scripture, these individuals are not quite yet believers and not yet part of the Church.  However, Jones says prior to this at the very beginning of this “word” that they’ve “been burned into the body.”  So, which is it? Most importantly, given that we are new creatures in Christ (II Corinthians 5:17), why would “burnt stones” be an appropriate description for believers?  This, once again, is contradictory to Scripture.

Since all Christians are living stones (even deceased Christians) figuratively speaking, what are Jones’ burnt stones?  Stones are not burnt for the construction of buildings (it’s not necessary and would weaken them); however, bricks are.  Bricks are made from clay or shale and are  heated or “burned” to nearly 2000 degrees Fahrenheit.  (Some Old Testament era bricks were made from mud instead.)  Is Jones speaking of bricks when he says “burnt stones?” 

All versions of the Temple were made of stone (God-made material) and not brick (man-made) which is why Christians are referred to as living stones.  However, there was one well known structure in the Old Testament which was made of brick: the infamous Tower of Babel (see Genesis 11).   The Tower of Babel[34] was said to be built as a ziggurat.  Most artists’ renditions depict it as round even though it likely had a square base.  Many believe the EU Parliament building in Strasbourg (the Louise Weiss Building) is modeled after Pieter Brueghel’s 1563 painting[35] of a round Tower of Babel (much like the poster shown at the hyperlink).

Jones’ structure would be a mixture of “burnt stones” (bricks?) and living stones.  Is this some sort of hybrid Tower of Babel?  Probably not; but, I’d like a more plausible answer.  Maybe this is expecting too much as this whole “word” is confusing, contradictory and nonsensical.

Perhaps Jones is speaking of a modern day Jacob’s ladder (Genesis 28:11-12) with the elevator as metaphor.  However, given that Jesus is our mediator and symbolically our “ladder,” it’s curious why He is not mentioned in this “prophecy” at all.  Even if this is what this “word” is about, that still doesn’t explain any of the other items mentioned above.

Bob Jones: False Prophet

Bob Jones is a false prophet in any and every sense of the term.  His predictive “prophecies” have largely failed, his forthtelling “words” take Scripture out of its proper context, and these “prophecies” are many times not just extra-Biblical but downright anti-Biblical as illustrated above.  Yet, unfortunately, Jones seems to be the backdrop for much of hyper-charismaticism.  Or, his presence lurks in the background.

In the Signs That Make You Wonder article there’s a “prophecy” yet to be fulfilled regarding “Breakthrough Angel” even though it was said to occur “soon” from the 2006 date of this “word” (content beginning at footnote [15]).   I suppose it depends on one’s definition of “soon.”  In addition, documented and analyzed is Jones’ Breaker, Breaker 1:9 “prophetic word” which is rather bizarre.

Scripture makes it clear there will be deception, false prophets, and false teachers in the last days.  When asked by the disciples what would be the signs of the end of the age Jesus responded:

4Watch out that no one deceives you.  5For many will come in my name, claiming, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many…

10At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.  12Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

23At that time if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!” or, “There he is!” do not believe it.  24For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. [Matthew 24:4-5,10-13,23-24 NIV] 

In II Thessalonians 2:9-12 is a complementary warning from the Apostle Paul.

Bill Johnson has previously endorsed Bob Jones as a “friend” on one of his sites.  Now, there’s no question Johnson is outright endorsing Jones as well as his doctrine by allowing him to be a featured speaker (most likely THE featured speaker) at the upcoming Piercing the Darkness “Prophetic Conference” and thus identifying him as a “true prophet of God.”  This illustrates just how far Bill Johnson is in apostasy.

Endnotes:

[1] Booth, Tricia (formerly Tillin), The Birthpangs of a New Age. “Documentation of the Aberrant Practices and Teachings of Kansas City Fellowship (Grace Ministries)” <  http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/kcp/Abberent%20Practises.pdf >; as accessed 01/12/11

[2] ibid. pp 41-42

[3] International House of Prayer, Encountering Jesus.  free MP3 download <  http://www.ihopmp3store.com/Groups/1000021591/IHOP_MP3_Downloads/Free_MP3s/Free_MP3s.aspx  >; disc 4, 30:40 – 42:11; as accessed 01/12/11

[4] Grey Coats blog, The Vindication of E. Gruen. <  http://thegreycoats.wordpress.com/the-vindication-of-ernie-gruen/  >; as accessed 01/12/11

[5] Grewe (van der Merwe), Jewel, Discernment Newsletter September 1990.  < http://web.archive.org/web/20060626225924/http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_Sept1990.pdf  > Volume 1, Number 5; p 5; as accessed from Web Archive (Wayback Machine) 01/12/11.  See also pp 67-69 of Tricia Booth’s document referenced at note 1.

[6] Grewe (van der Merwe) Jewel, Discernment Newsletter June 1990. < http://web.archive.org/web/20060626225912/http://www.discernment-ministries.org/NL_June1990.pdf  > Volume 1, Number 2; p 4; as accessed from Web Archive (Wayback Machine) 01/12/11.  See also pp 59, 68-69 of Tricia Booth’s document referenced at note 1.

[7] MorningStar Ministries, Media Store, VS19-000D. “Todd Bentley Healing and Impartation Service, 08-08-08” DVD <http://www.morningstarministries.org/store/teaching-sets/todd-bentley/todd-bentley-healing-and-impartation-service-08-08-08>

[8] “elmoziffle” Todd Bentley – Bob Jones – THE NEW BREED. < http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ykgcEWFCVgk  >; :43 – 2:28; as accessed 01/12/11

[9] MorningStar Ministries, Op.cit. at 1934:20 – 1940:50

[10] Bob Jones Ministries, Prophetic Words 2008; The New Breed (September 2008).    <  http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Words%20of%202008/2008-09-The_New_Breed.htm  >; as accessed 01/12/11

[11] Booth, Op.cit. p 70

[12] Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible; Volume 6. Copyright 199l by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 8th printing, April 2006, USA, Hendrickson Publishers; p 836

[13] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society,  Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; text note on II Peter 1:4, p 1898.

[14] ibid. text note on Galatians 2:12, p 1783

[15] Vincent, Marvin, R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume IV. 2009; Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, 5th Ed, August 2009, USA, Hendrickson Publishers; p 147

[16] Henry, Op.cit. p 538

[17] Booth, Tricia (formerly Tillin), The Birthpangs of a New Age. “The Birth of the Manchild”  < http://www.birthpangs.org/articles/latterrain/manchild.html >; as accessed 01/12/11

[18] “MStarMinistries” Bob Jones The Shepherds Rod Prophecy for the Coming Year – MorningStar Ministries. From September 17, 2010 <  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfyuGoykpP0  >; as accessed 01/12/11

[19] ibid. at :30 – 1:10

[20] ibid. at 1:10 – 1:27 

[21] Johnson, Bill, When Heaven Invades Earth. 2003; Destiny Image, Shippensburg, PA; p 83 

[22] Kjos, Berit, Kjos Ministries website Role Playing Games & Popular Occultism: The ancient message behind role-playing magic  < http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/2003/occult-rpg.htm#magic > par 1; as accessed 01/12/11

[23] Bob Jones Ministries, Resources and Store; Shepherd’s Rod 2008 <   http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Shepherd’s%20Rods/SR-2008.htm  >; as accessed 01/12/11

[24] “MStarMinistries” Op.cit. at 3:44

[25] Bob Jones, Op.cit. “Shepherd’s Rod 2008” 

[26] Bob Jones Ministries, Prophetic Words 2008; Apostolic Government by 2012. “New Apostolic Government by 2010” < http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Words%20of%202008/2008-11-Apostolic_Govt_By_2012.htm >; as accessed 01/12/11

[27] ibid.

[28] ibid.

[29] ibid.

[30] ibid. Overturning Roe vs. Wade would be one tall order indeed!

[31] “fr33info4u” Bob Jones – A new Sword of the Spirit. <  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJKNj7QsIXE&feature=related  >; as accessed 01/12/11

[32] ibid. at 1:55

[33] Henry, Op.cit. p 560

[34] “unmuseum.org” The Tower of Babel. <  http://www.unmuseum.org/babel.htm  > Copyright 1977, Lee Krystek; as accessed 01/12/11

[35] Scheifler, Michael “biblelight.net” Reversing an Act of God with a Modern Tower of Babel. <  http://biblelight.net/Tower-of-Babel.htm  >; as accessed 01/12/11

The Kingdom of God is at Hand, part I

[see part II here.]

Jesus Himself stated, “The kingdom of God is at hand” in Mark 1:15 [NIV]; however, it is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew that He also said “The kingdom of heaven is at hand.” [Matthew 4:17, 10:7 NIV] A quick examination of Scripture leads to the conclusion that the phrases “kingdom of God” and “kingdom of heaven” are synonymous. So, is the kingdom of God NOW?

Most first century Jews, according to their understanding of Scripture, were looking for a Messiah who would provide theocratic rule thus delivering them from Roman oppression and immediately establishing the Kingdom of God – the Age to Come. The then-current age – “Satan’s Time” – was one of sin, sickness, demonic possession, and evil in which evil men were triumphant.[1]

Consequently, even though Jesus Christ healed the sick, drove out demons and even claimed to have forgiven sins, the majority of religious leaders did not recognize Him as the Messiah in part because He did not try to overthrow Rome. Since many of the Pharisees – one of the religious parties of the day – did not believe Jesus’ claim as the “I Am” [John 8:58] they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy!

Historical background

Writings of the Intertestamental Era

400 years had already elapsed between the writing of Malachi, the last Old Testament book to be recorded, and the era of Jesus’ earthly ministry. In the intertestamental period (the time between the Old and New Testaments), the Jews were not a free people most of the time instead subjected to the rulership of various empires. There were no prophets providing correction or guidance; and, consequently, it was a rather unhappy time. As a result, it was a period marked by a surge in the production of literary works, the most important of which were the Septuagint – the Greek translation of the Tanakh – what Christians know as the Old Testament (abbreviated LXX)[2], the Apocryphal & Pseudepigraphic writings (some of the Apocrypha were translated from the Hebrew and Aramaic and included as part of the LXX)[3], and the Dead Sea Scrolls.[4]

The word Apocrypha, from Greek derivation, means “hidden” which has a view of the works being either esoteric and only to be understood by the initiated or, “hidden” in that the nature of the writings are questionable or heretical[5]. The term Pseudepigrapha is usually applied to Jewish (and Jewish-Christian) writings from 200BC to AD200 and comes also from Greek etymology meaning the writings were attributed to fictitious authors[6] although some have authorship ascribed[7]. From both groups of works the subject of eschatology has a significant role. Taken all together, this literature appeared to have a profound effect on the pre-Christian and the immediate post-Resurrection era[8] up through the destruction of the Second Temple in AD70[9]. [Note: for the purposes of this article the “New Testament Apocrypha” including the so-called “Lost Gospels, ” Acts of Andrews, Epistles of the Apostles, etc. are not considered.]

…These and other writings emerged during the long silence that fell between the death of the last OT prophet, Malachi (about 400 B.C.), and the appearance of John the Baptist. To some extent these writings attempted to discern what God was saying to a nation that, though it had repudiated idolatry, still suffered under the dominion of a succession of pagan powers… [10]

At the Council of Jamnia in AD90 Jewish rabbis rejected the Apocrypha (of which parts were included in the Septuagint) as canonical[11]. Yet, some of the Apocrypha are included in the Catholic New American Bible as Deuterocanonical (meaning later added to the canon) books[12]. Some of the Roman Catholic Church’s doctrine such as purgatory, masses for the dead, and obtaining the merit of God through good works come from these Apocryphal works[13].

The OT canon accepted by Protestants today was “very likely established by the dawn of the second century,” some time after the destruction of Herod’s Temple in AD70. However, the Apocrypha was still in common use by most Christians until the Protestant Reformation[14].

Societal Developments of the Period

Even though the Second Temple was in operation from 516 BC[15] until AD70[16,17] geographical constraints and oppressive regimes prevented easy travel for the typical Jew. Thus the synagogue was born. Synagogues can be likened to our modern day church buildings as they provided a convenient way to gather socially and to worship. Jesus Himself visited local synagogues [Luke 4:14-21; Matthew 12:9; Mark 1:21]; and, the Apostles [Acts 9:20, 13:5-43] and early Christian missionaries preached in them as well[18].

The Sanhedrin was a committee of Jews with recognized executive, legislative, and judicial power over Jewish faith and lifestyle during the Seleucid Empire (196 – 167BC), the Maccabean revolt (168 – 143BC) and within the limits imposed by Julius Caesar, Herod the Great, and Roman procurators during the Roman Empire (44BC – AD66).[19,20] Subordinate to the Sanhedrin were the religious parties or sects known as the Sadducees, Pharisees, Essenes, and the Qumran community[21]. Since the Sanhedrin had authority over these sects and ultimate authority over capital cases (yet subordinate to Rome during Roman occupation), Jesus’ trial is seen as being conducted illegally[22].

Beliefs of the Sects

Not much is known about the separative and isolationistic Essene group except that they were very legalistic living both frugally and communally while limiting contact outside their sect. While they did not condemn marriage in principle it was avoided and celibacy was celebrated. Their sect was continued on by the adoption of children. There was an expectation of an impending apocalyptic battle between good and evil. Evidence of a soon to emerge Messiah is in their writings also[23].

Even less was known of the Qumran community until the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS) which were first unearthed in 1947. The Qumranians are likely a sect that broke from the Essenes. This extremely sectarian group rejected the Jewish leadership referring to them as “sons of darkness” and “men of the pit” while referring to themselves as “sons of light” and “sons of truth.” They firmly believed they were living in the end times[24].

From the DSS it is evident that the Qumranians were highly legalistic with a commitment to study the Torah. The Qumran group believed they were living in the end times and accepted the guidance of a certain teacher of righteousness [ed: probably based at least in part on Malachi 4:5] who was presumably preparing them for the Messiah. Their own writings about this “righteous teacher” are too sketchy to determine the exact role of this figure; however, it is apparent that the community accepted his interpretations of the prophetic OT books regarding eschatology. Since the Qumran believed in a resurrection of the dead, it may be assumed in studying portions of the DSS that they expected the “teacher of righteousness to be martyred and eventually raised up[25]. Their Messiah figure, on the other hand, was more of a human son of David concept rather than a divine apocalyptic Son of man[26]. Some scholars construe that the Qumran belief system supports two or three Messianic figures[27,28].

As supernaturalists, the Pharisees believed in angels, demons, bodily resurrection [Acts 23:8], and immortality with reward for the righteous dead[29] in contrast with retribution for the unrighteous[30]. They were legalistic to the point of going beyond the Scriptures in attempting to adhere to the Torah; and, to this end added their own oral tradition to keep various points of the law. A good example of this is their view of the Sabbath [Mark 2:23-28]. The Pharisees “neglected the more important matters of the law – justice, mercy and faithfulness” [Matthew 23:23 NIV] creating a more works-based religion than one with a personal God.

The Pharisees believed both in man’s free will and the sovereignty of God yet thought neither would cancel out the other. Ethics such as human equality were emphasized in their teachings but not necessarily from a theological standpoint[31]. They expected the Messiah to restore Jewish freedom[32].

One credible source stated outright that the Pharisees believed in reincarnation[33]; yet, the general consensus among Christian scholars is that Pharisaical belief regarding immortality adhered to orthodoxy instead. However, in the Apocryphal and Pseudepigraphic literature there are references to reincarnation[34]. In some camps, the Kabbalah was thought to be in use as early as the time of Moses as part of an oral tradition and reincarnation is one of the tenets of Kabbalistic doctrine[35]. While there are certainly some Jewish sects who currently espouse reincarnation[36], it is not clear when this doctrine first came about. The Apocryphal book Ecclesiasticus, or Wisdom of Jesus the Son of Sirach[37], contains a warning against such esotericism [Sirach 3:20-22].[38]

The common people were predominantly middle class and identified mostly with the Pharisees in part because this party was of the same class[39]. It should be noted that not all Pharisees were of the same ilk as those represented in the NT. Some contemporaries within their own party recognized their hypocrisy and rebuked them for it[40]. Gamaliel appeared to try to honor a personal God with his words [Acts 5:33-41]. Saul of Tarsus, a Pharisee, would, of course, become the Apostle Paul.

The Sadducees, more than any of these groups, had an interest in Temple ceremonies and sought a literal interpretation of the Torah. They appeared to reject extra-canonical sources for doctrine. As the most affluent of the religious groups, the Sadducees wielded political clout disproportionate to their relative size[41]. It is assumed that they held a large percentage of seats on the Sanhedrin.

The Sadducean view of eschatology was quite simplistic and widely divergent from the other sects as they did not believe in a resurrection [Matthew 22:23, Mark 12:18, Luke 20:27] or an afterlife and even denied the existence of a spiritual world altogether [Acts 23:8] attributing everything to free will[42].

Eschatological Views of the Pre-Christian and Immediate Post-Resurrection Era

With the exception of the Sadducean view, the predominant Jewish belief of the pre-Christian era included the imminent arrival of a Messianic figure (or figures assuming one of the viewpoints regarding the Qumran group) to deliver them from their Roman oppressors and immediately establish the Kingdom of God. Gordon D. Fee and Douglas Stewart, in their book How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, describe the Jewish eschaton (view of the end of time) as the belief that the Messiah’s coming would usher in the “Age to Come” to be “characterized by the presence of the Spirit, righteousness, health, and peace.”[43]

Since Jesus Christ’s disciples/followers came directly from Jewish heritage or were familiar with Jewish eschatological beliefs, they were also expecting Him to soon usher in the Kingdom and overthrow Rome[44] while He was still on the earth. Consequently, Jesus’ arrest and subsequent death on the Cross was met with immense disillusionment among His disciples in part because of this assumption [Luke 22:61-62; 23:27, 48-49; 24:17-21]. However, their sorrow turned to joy with His Resurrection and Ascension!

Yet it was apparent that the end of the age had not come in full:

“Very early, beginning with Peter’s sermon in Acts 3, the early Christians came to realize that Jesus had not come to usher in the ‘final’ end, but the ‘beginning’ of the end, as it were. Thus they came to see that with Jesus’ death and resurrection, and with the coming of the Spirit, the blessings and benefits of the future had already come. In a sense, therefore, the end had already come. But, in another sense the end had not yet fully come. Thus it was already but not yet. [45] [emphasis in original]

First century Christians had to adjust their eschatological thinking to fit the events of the Resurrection and Ascension. However, apparently some were expecting the imminent return of Jesus Christ prompting the Apostle Paul to write the two Thessalonian letters to provide markers of what first must take place before His return. They still had a “kingdom now” mindset. This expectation of imminency with regard to Christ’s return continues in the mindset of most Christians today.

This “tension” between the already but not yet is an important hermeneutical tool in interpreting the New Testament[46]. Passages such as Colossians 3:1-2 illustrate this quite well:

1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. [NIV]

We are already raised up with Christ, yet we are still physically here on earth. However, since we have the future expectation of being raised with Christ, we are to already set our hearts and minds on heavenly things. Similarly, when Jesus said, “The kingdom of God is at hand” He was using this same principle. The Kingdom era has already begun; but, the consummation is yet to be fulfilled.

There are those today who are attempting to hasten Jesus Christ’s return by taking the not yet into their own hands. It is the doctrines of some of these which will be compared to the doctrines of the groups above in the second part of this article.

See Part II here.

Endnotes:

[1] Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stewart “The Gospels: One Story, Many Dimensions.” How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. second edition, 1993; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; p 131

[2] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 164-174. This section features Bruce M. Metzger as contributor.

[3] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Between the Testaments.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 179-192. This section features Harold W. Hoehner as contributor.

[4] Barker, Kenneth; Burdick, Stek, et. al. “The Time between the Testaments” NIV Study Bible. copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 1424-1425

[5] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 161 Metzger

[6] ibid. pp 162, 170

[7] Marshall, I. Howard; Millard, Packer “Pseudepigrapha” New Bible Dictionary. third edition, 1996; Intervarsity, Downers Grove, IL; p 985

[8] Gaebelein, Op.cit. pp 173-174 Hoehner

[9] Richards, Lawrence O. “Apocrypha” Richards Complete Bible Dictionary. 2002; World Bible Publishers, Iowa Falls, IO; p 76

[10] ibid.

[11] Marshall, Op.cit.

[12] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 162

[13] Richards, Op.cit.

[14] Barker, Op.cit. p 1425

[15] Richards, Lawrence O. “Ezra” Richards’ Complete Bible Handbook. 1987; Word, Inc., Dallas, TX; pp 233-234

[16] Wikipedia The Second Temple <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple> para 1; as accessed 10/17/10

[17] Richards, Op.cit. “The Second Temple” Bible Dictionary p 967

[18] ibid. “synagogue” pp 957-958

[19] ibid. “Sanhedrin” pp 894-895

[20] Gaebelein, Op.cit. pp 184, 189-191 Hoehner

[21] ibid. pp 192-193

[22] Richards, Op.cit. p 895

[23] ibid. “Essenes” pp 346-347

[24] Gaebelein, Frank E., Gen. Ed. “Dead Sea Scrolls.” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 1. 1979; Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; pp 395-398. This section features William Sanford LaSor as contributor.

[25] ibid. pp 399-401

[26] ibid. pp 400-403 [The bulk of this information on the Qumran is from the work of William S. LaSor titled The Dead Sea Scrolls and the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972]

[27] Barker, Op.cit. p 1427

[28] Hanson, Kenneth “The Wicked Priest” Dead Sea Scrolls: the Untold Story. 1997; Council Oaks Books, Tulsa, OK; p 82

[29] Richards, Op.cit. “Pharisees” p 782

[30] Barker, Op.cit. “Jewish Sects” p 1473

[31] ibid.

[32] Richards, Op.cit.

[33] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 192 Hoehner

[34] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 165 Metzger

[35] Wikipedia “Primary Texts” Kabbalah. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kabbalah> para 2, also “History: Origin of Terms” para 1; as accessed 10/17/10

[36] Rich, Tracey R. “Resurrection and Reincarnation” Olam Ha-Ba: The Afterlife. <http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm>  Copyright 5759-5760 (1999); Tracey R. Rich; para 4; as accessed 10/17/10

[37] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 166

[38] Confraternity of Christian Doctrine “Sirach” New American Bible. <http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/sirach/sirach3.htm> 2002; Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC; Sirach 3:20-22; as accessed 10/17/10

[39] Richards, Op.cit. “The Common People” Bible Handbook p 443

[40] ibid. “The Pharisees” p 442

[41] Gaebelein, Op.cit. p 192 Hoehner

[42] Richards, Op.cit. “Sadducees” p 885

[43] Fee, Op.cit. p 132

[44] ibid.

[45] ibid. pp 132-133

[46] ibid. p 133

“Signs That Make You Wonder”

Following is a transcription of a YouTube video[1] from early 2008 with Bill Johnson of Bethel Church in Redding, California surmising that angels “have been bored for quite a few decades.” Johnson’s words begin at about 1:13 after an introduction by Patricia King of Extreme Prophetic[2] who refers to him as an “apostolic adviser” and “apostolic covering:”

Heaven is invading Earth; and, it’s happening through all different kinds of unusual manifestations. It’s happening through much more angelic encounters – those kinds of things are much more frequent.

And, I know people get nervous when you start talking about angels and this. It’s foolish to worship angels; but, it’s equally foolish to ignore them. God sent them to assist us in our assignment. We’ve been commissioned because we embrace His mission.

And, Jesus needed them. They came, ministered to Him. He cooperated. Paul cooperated with them. There wasn’t this praying to them – there’s not that sort of thing; but, they are there to assist us. And, quite frankly I think they have been bored for quite a few decades in this country and they’ve been looking for a generation that will live with some risk ‘cause that gives them something to back up. Because their whole deal is to enforce the Word of the Lord.

And, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 103 comes in two ways. It comes from God declaring a matter and it comes from Him speaking to His people and His people declaring a matter. And, they can tell when a word has originated in the heart of the Father ‘cause it carries that fragrance of the Throne Room with it and they recognize, “This is my assignment.” And, they jump all over that and enforce it. I’ve watched it; I’ve seen this happen where a word comes from the Father it’s declared in a room in a setting and instantly there is the absolute, most impossible situation reversed simply because of a declared word. And, I know there’s angelic assistance in enforcing them.

So, that’s, uh, it’s just increasing all kinds of manifestations. It’s the angelic realm; it’s just the supernatural breaking into this one: the gold and the oil and the wind. We’ve been having gusts of wind that just come out of nowhere. And, uh, ya know, it’s all good. It’s all signs that make you wonder and it’s just good to be in awe again. It’s not healthy to not be in awe. It’s not healthy to live accustomed to what’s going on around you. It’s really important that we live with that sense of awe and that appreciation for God’s unusual ways of working with us.

So this is, uh – I love it, I just welcome all that He’s doing.

While the exact vintage of this video is unknown to this writer, it should be noted that this upload of February 3, 2008 predates the Lakeland ‘Revival’ by a couple months in which Todd Bentley claimed all sorts of things regarding angels. In this video[3] of Lakeland from April 25, 2008, Bentley speaks of forthcoming ‘revivals’ and he states that a ‘revival’ was already taking place at Bill Johnson’s Bethel Church:

…Denny Cline,[4] are you watching me in Albany? Bob Jones[5] told me it’s coming back to Washington, Oregon, California… …Ya know Albany, Oregon was the first healing outpouring that I had in America. Ya know why it broke out? Because I was in Shreveport, Louisiana and the angel of the Winds of Change was released. I went all the way over to Grant’s Pass, Oregon and I went all the way to Albany, Oregon and the healing revival broke out and it launched our ministry. And that Bob [Jones] told me that same Winds of Change angel had come all the way back to Lakeland.

We know it’s already happening in Bethel – in northern California. It’s happening in Redding, California…”  [emphasis mine]

So, did the Bethel ‘revival’ rival the Lakeland ‘revival’ regarding angels? Did the same “Winds of Change angel” visit Bethel at the same time as Lakeland? Are angels omnipresent?

Todd Bentley stated back in 2002 or 2003 that it was an “angel called Healing Revival” that came to him in Grant’s Pass; whereas, above he says it was the “Winds of Change angel” who launched his ministry. Perhaps the angel changed his name later to “Winds of Change” because of a change in the wind? In the following, Bentley mentions that this “Healing Revival” angel was the same one of John G. Lake, William Branham and John Knox:

I first saw the angel called Healing Revival on December 5 of 2000 in Grant’s Pass. The angel came to me again in Albany the next February. He stood in the church service with his body going through the ceiling of the church. Then the Lord told me the angel’s name and that he was the same angel I saw in Grant’s Pass earlier. God also revealed to me that this angel was involved in the ministry of John Lake, William Branham, and John Knox in Scotland. This angel, the Lord said, is from the North West Healing Revival and is manifesting again as a sign that God is restoring the Voice of Healing revival and opening up the ancient wells.

In our ministry over the last year, this angel has come frequently and on many different occasions… …Many other people have also seen or had contact with this angel in the meetings. And whenever this angel shows up the miracles go off the charts. Instead of a few healings, we’ll get three blind eyes in one night or maybe a cripple guy gets out of a wheel chair.

I believe the angel showed up in Albany as a sign that God was endorsing what was taking place and that it was opening up a healing well. Everywhere I have seen this angel the miracles continue after I leave and a healing well is established in that church and in that city… [6]

From Scripture we know there are angels who minister to us. And, according to Psalm 103:19-21 – the verses Johnson must be referring to in the video above – we find another function of angels:

19 The LORD has established his throne in heaven,
and his kingdom rules over all.

20 Praise the LORD, you his angels,
you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word.

21 Praise the LORD, all his heavenly hosts,
you his servants who do his will. [NIV]

In this context, it is made evident that angels obey the Word of God and are commanded by God [see also Psalm 91:11]. It is the Father who dispatches them; they do not, as Johnson states, “recognize” their “assignment.” Rather, they obey their assignment.  They do not act on their own accord.

Quoting Johnson from the transcript:

 And, the Word of the Lord in Psalms 103 comes in two ways.  It comes from God declaring a matter and it comes from Him speaking to His people and His people declaring a matter.

With the latter part of the second sentence above Johnson sets up a straw man argument which is incumbent on him to defend as it is extra-biblical.  For more on the function and nature of angels, here’s the Hebrew word from which we get “angel” — mal’ak — as defined by Strong’s:

 messenger, a human representative; angel, a supernatural representative of God, sometimes delivering messages, sometimes protecting God’s people; the “angel of the LORD” sometimes shares divine characteristics and is sometimes thought to be an manifestation of God himself, or of the preincarnate Christ [Theophany]. [7] [bracketed comment mine]  

Even Satan, a fallen angel, is constrained by the permissive will of God [see Job 1:12; 2:9]. To quote J. Hampton Keathley, III from his article Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels:

Surely it is comforting to know that God may protect, provide, and encourage us through His angels, but this fact does not always guarantee such deliverance, and certainly we should never presume on this provision of God. … we should keep in mind that God does not always deliver us from danger or supply our needs in miraculous ways whether by angels or by His direct intervention. For His own sovereign and wise purposes, the opposite is sometimes His will as life clearly illustrates and Scripture declares (see Heb. 11:36-40).

But there is another truth regarding angels that needs to be kept in view.  Just as people usually do not think of the punitive ministry of angels, so people, in their popular ideas about angels, often ignore the Scripture’s teaching about the deception of Satan’s evil angels (2 Cor. 11:14-15). [8]

Here[9] is a post on an angel named “Breakthrough Revival” in which Randy DeMain claimed this angel came to him while he was in Nigeria. While the YouTube video from which the transcription is taken from has been removed by the user, the bulk is verifiable as the contents are referred to both on another blog and in a ‘prophetic word’ which will be quoted from later in this article:

“All of a sudden I realized there was a presence of God that I had never experienced before upon my life. And in that moment of time, I heard a voice say this: ‘I have a gift for you, will you receive it?’ And it stunned me. And I looked up and it was like a veil between the natural and the supernatural opened, just an opening of the veil.”

It needs to be pointed out that the ‘veil’ DeMain speaks of sounds suspiciously like what is known in the New Age Religion as a “portal.” The author here[10] defines portals as “‘…inter-dimensional doorways, two-way tunnels, curtains of light’” and “’are a recurring concept in our cultural tradition allowing for travel between worlds and a means of transcending time and space.’” She states further:

“Some people say they can travel physically through portals, but most of those who visit the portals in Sedona move within their minds, as in meditation. This is commonly known as an out-of-body experience as they project their consciousness into an astral realm…

“There is an awareness that entities exist beyond our third dimensional existence, and that it is possible that there is movement between dimensions at portals…”

Going back to Randy DeMain’s account of his “visitation:”

And when this opened, the light became very bright, and as I looked up that living Lord Jesus Himself walked through that veil and stood before me just as a couple of feet in front of me and began to speak to me. He said, ‘An angel has come to me and asked to be assigned to you. His name is ‘Breakthrough Revival.’ He has seen in you the same heart and perseverance as the ones he has formerly served who have since died. He has new assignments since that time…”

Jesus Himself, in speaking of signs of the end of time gave this warning, “At that time if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it.” [Matthew 24:23 NIV] Therefore, it is very doubtful that DeMain actually saw Jesus Christ. In fact, given that we have no photos or verifiable representation of what Jesus actually looked like, how could DeMain be sure?

Continuing on with DeMain:

“…And then He said this: ‘What you saw tonight, what you experienced tonight is what the angel does. He goes before you and he opens up the realm of the area you’re ministering in and he drives back all the power of darkness. And, he creates an atmosphere where it is on earth as it is in heaven.’ And, as you say… …the word of God manifests instantly just like there is in heaven, there’s no hindrance; and, I was just overwhelmed at what the Lord was saying…

“…One of the things I said to the Lord, ‘…Why would I take this mighty angel… … from Nigeria, that’s causing all these things to happen, and take this angel from here back to America?’

“…And, immediately the Lord said, ‘because his work is done, it’s now the work of gathering and reaping angels. They will go forth now into the harvest and partner with men in the harvest just like they did with Philip in the New Testament…’ I come to find out historically that this is also true because to this very day the born again rate exceeds the birth rate in that nation of Africa; so, indeed, its work was done.

“The second thing really stunned me though. The Lord said to me, ‘It’s America’s time’ and I knew that all of a sudden the gaze of God had come to America.”

So, is it that God’s ‘gaze’ can only be on one nation at a time? This whole idea of angels moving from one region to another contradicts the pervasive belief in charismatic circles that angels and demons are constrained to specific geographic areas. This thought is one of the bases for the ‘spiritual warfare’ known as “spiritual mapping” written on extensively by C. Peter Wagner of Global Harvest Ministries[11]and practiced in the modern prophetic movement. This notion of “territorial spirits” is debunked here.[12]

In the following, Shawn Bolz relates how this “Breakthrough angel” worked through Liz Jones of Guildford Prayer School (UK)[13] while she was visiting his Los Angeles church:

“…Liz Jones, saw an angel, and said the angel’s name was “Breakthrough.” He had come to bring revival to California and breakthrough to us, or city, and the State.

“When she told me I was encouraged, but it did not fully register. In the past ministry I was involved in, WhiteDove Ministries, we did a series of conferences on a similar encounter that Bob Jones and Randy DeMain had reported having about an ‘angel of breakthrough’ who is instrumental in revival…

“…I recently went to a conference with Randy DeMain who had had an encounter with what he also called the “Angel of Breakthrough” in Nigeria while on a ministry trip in 2004. This angel had been involved with Benson Idahosa during the great Nigerian revivals of the 1990’s. Bob Jones had a similar encounter a few months later with similar details about this ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ being released in America… I told Randy about Liz Jones’ encounter when I was with him during a conference held on Valentines weekend in Idaho. He looked surprised. He said the presence of the angel had left him, and that the Lord told him that he was taking ‘Breakthrough’ somewhere else for a while. However, the ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ would be back with Randy in the future! Randy said, ‘So, that is where he is!’” [14] [Quotes (‘ ‘) and capitalization on ‘Angel of Breakthrough’ are mine. All else is as per original]

In a ‘prophetic word’ on the Elijah List[15] from April 4, 2006, Paul Keith Davis of White Dove Ministries relates how Bob Jones had a vision of Randy DeMain’s “Breakthrough Angel” on March 24th of the same year. In this ‘word’ there were to be three “major” moves “soon to take place.” When did they occur? There does not appear to be any specific expression of this particular angel with the exception of the rather minor encounter referenced by Shawn Bolz above. Here[16] Bolz relates in a little more detail the account of Liz Jones and this angel with a claim of 100 people in his congregation, including the homeless, receiving jobs within a month; however, again, it does not seem to be a “major” ‘move.’

There was an account in early 2009 of “Breakthrough Angel” showing up in Harrisburg, PA[17] ; but, it did not seem to materialize into a “major” revival – if one at all. Here’s a snippet from the advertisement:

“…We see this as a time to pull Heaven down and establish the Kingdom of God with every step that you take as the revival breakthrough angel is displacing spiritual forces over this region…” [all as per original]

In this ‘prophetic word’[18] from a March 2, 2010 “angelic visitation” referenced on Bob Jones’ website, Jones speaks of a ‘breakthrough’ in Ohio. No other information on this ‘revival’ is yet to be found as of the date of the writing of this article. Please note some confusing words at the end of Jones’ ‘word:’

“Let’s take an aggressive stand against the spoken word. Don’t give the enemy an inroad. Pray to cancel the power and authority out of the spoken word that is not aligned with God’s destiny for your family, city and state. Stand firm on the word of God and be assured ‘With God All Things Are Possible!’ Welcome the Breakthrough Revival Angel to do that which is necessary to bring about God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven…”

According to modern charismatic belief, isn’t the spoken word the rhema, which is the one of ‘prophetic revelation,’ while the Word of God is the written word, the logos, the Bible? How does one know which ‘spoken word’ is “aligned with God’s destiny for your family, city and state?”

It has been since early 2006 that this Bob Jones’ ‘prophecy’ about the three “major” ‘moves’ of the “Breakthrough Angel” were to “soon take place” yet to date they have not come to fruition. With all the different angels of the Lakeland ‘revival,’ “Breakthrough” was not one of them. What happened to the “Breakthrough Angel?” Isn’t the “Angel of Breakthrough” supposed to return to Randy DeMain?

Is it possible that the unnamed angel of the Bethel ‘revival’ Todd Bentley references in the April 2008 clip above is the elusive “Angel of Breakthrough?” This seems doubtful since if this were a partial fulfillment of Jones’ ‘prophecy’ certainly it would have been promoted as such.

Taking all the above into consideration I would have to agree with this portion of Bill Johnson’s words from the transcript at the beginning of this article:

“It’s all signs that make you wonder…”

[1] “fr33info4u,” Bill Johnson – Heaven invades Earth <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdOY42jUeks> February 3, 2008;  as accessed 10/10/10

[2] Extreme Prophetic homepage <http://www.extremeprophetic.com/>

[3] “GodOfElijah,” Todd Bentley Florida Healing Revival 3 <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-nwMfOKgXo> April 25, 2008; as accessed 10/10/10

[4] Jesus Pursuit Church home page <http://www.vcfalbany.org/>

[5] Bob Jones Ministries home page <http://www.bobjones.org/>

[6] Bentley, Todd / Fresh Fire Ministries (archived), “An Angel Called Healing Revival” Angelic Hosts <http://www.etpv.org/2003/angho.html> as accessed 10/10/10

[7] Strong, James, Dr. The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. fully revised by John R. Kohlenberg III and James A. Swanson; 2001, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI; Strong’s # 4397; p 1414 “mal’ak,”

[8] Keathley, III, J. Hampton, “The Ministry of Angels” Angelology: The Doctrine of Angels. <http://bible.org/article/angelology-doctrine-angels> par 18-19; as accessed 10/10/10

[9] “endtimespropheticwords” Randy DeMain’s Jesus encounter and the Angel Breakthrough Revival <http://endtimespropheticwords.wordpress.com/2008/07/25/randy-demains-jesus-encounter-and-the-angel-breakthrough-revival/> July 25, 2008; as accessed 10/10/10

[10] “Jocelyn” Portals <http://www.sedonanewagecenter.com/newsletter/html/2005/cnanewsletter5-11.htm> Center For The New Age Newsletter, Volume 5 Issue 11, November, 2005; as accessed 10/10/10

[11] Global Harvest Ministries homepage <http://www.globalharvest.org/>

[12] Stevens, David E., “Daniel 10 and the Notion of Territorial Spirits,” Bibliotheca Sacra. 157: 628 (2000): 410-431 <http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/daniel10.pdf> Stevens is Senior Pastor, Central Bible Church, Portland, Oregon; as accessed 10/10/10

[13] Guildford Prayer School (UK) <http://www.guildfordcommunitychurch.org.uk/Articles/9689/Guildford_Community_Church/GCC_life/GCC_Guildford/Prayer/Guildford_Prayer_School.aspx> as accessed 10/10/10

[14] Bolz, Shawn “The Release of Breakthrough in California (Not another cliché breakthrough word)” blogs.myspace.com/shawnbolz <http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=19410816&blogId=476320097> March, 13 2009; as accessed 10/10/10

[15] Elijah List, Paul Keith Davis and Bob Jones: “The Angel Stated That His Name Is ‘Breakthrough’” <http://elijahlist.com/words/display_word/3959> April 4, 2006; as accessed 10/10/10

[16] “RevivalFiresMedia” “The Angel of Breakthrough” Interview with Shawn Bolz <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kkaq4ZXeLPs> May 24, 2010; as accessed 10/10/10

[17] Life Center Ministries advertisement for “Firestorm 2009” <http://www.lcmi.org/about/firestorm-february-26-28-2009/> as accessed 10/10/10

[18] Jones, Bob “Invite Breakthrough Revival Angel” Damn the Torpedos Full Speed Ahead! Breakthrough is in Ohio! <http://bobjonesnew.unionactive.com/Docs/Words%20of%202010/2010-03_BreakthroughInOhio.htm> as accessed 10/10/10

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