Monthly Archives: December 2015

Josephus & Jerusalem (Historical Scenery – Part 2)

 

“The affairs of the Jews were growing more and more troubled. The country was filled with robbers and false prophets fooling the people….And this seems to be the reason God rejected Jerusalem and its impure temple and brought the Romans upon the Jews, purging the city with fire and sending the Jews into slavery as a lesson to them….Jerusalem was filled with impiety. Deceivers and false prophets arose, leading the Jews into the wilderness in search of signs and wonders from God”.

Recently, I finally had the time and opportunity to sit down and read through Josephus’ ‘Thrones of Blood’. A short and surely informative read. Especially if you are trying to get an understanding of the 1st century and how that corresponds to the rather strange imagery of the Jewish ‘end of age’.

One of the obvious things that stood out to me throughout the reading was, ‘If only they had listened to Jesus Christ’. Going back 30-40 years, we know Jesus spoke of that generation as a “wicked generation” that sought for a sign (see, Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:4), he spoke of the judgement that wpould come upon that generation in Matthew chapter 23-34, and promised that the only “sign” they would see was the ‘sign of Jonah’ (see, Matthew 12:38-45).

Reading through the accounts of rebellion and destruction throughout the Roman Empire during this time becomes somewhat depressing. You are literally witnessing the ‘judgment of God’ take place in that “generation” upon all people on earth, even those who pierced Him (clear fulfillment of Revelation 1:7, as well as the details and context of the ‘Book of Revelation’).

Gessius Florus succeed Albinus as procurator of Judea in AD 64. If life for he Jews was harsh under the prior procurator, Albinus, they had another thing coming. Florus made the lives of the Jews in Judea so difficult in hopes that they would rebel. And they did.

I preached about this as the beginning of the end. You can listen to that sermon at the following link,

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/323630-beasts-of-revelation-god-s-judgement-harvest-revelation-chapters-13-14

In response to the wickedness of Florus,the Jews revolted, and in response to that Florus ordered his troops to plunder the upper marketplace and kill anyone they came across. Many innocent people were were whipped and crucified – it was said in one day the total killed was 3,600.

Herod Agrippa II urged the Jews in Jerusalem to submit to Gessius Florus making the following remark, “You are the only people who think it is a disgrace to be servants to those whom all the world has submitted”.

Rome was a conquering people operated by carnality. That is why Jesus Christ Himself said the ‘Kingdom of God’ would not be revealed in that manner (see, Matthew 20:17-28). Their condemnation was evident. The ‘Zealots’ who also operated by the same carnality, as did the Pharisees, in their failure to be obedient to the Law of God which they had been blessed with, would see their condemnation as well.

Josephus makes some interesting remarks about the ‘zealots’ who rebelled throughout the Roman Empire. “Sedition broke out in every area, those who supported the Romans fighting those who didn’t, with the rebels pillages and robbing the people of the country more severely than the Romans ever did”. Carnal leadership led by further carnal leadership will always produce the same, if not worse results. Godly leadership must fill the gap (see, 2 Chronicles 7:14). Surely, there is a historic lesson in that for us today in the 21st century. Despite their wickedness, some has come to see the ‘zealots’ as a possible solution to Roman occupation, yet Josephus accounts:

“Now the zealots began to kill anyone in the city they envied or feared…No one was safe from the zealots, no matter how they acted. Those who disagreed with them were killed. Those who didn’t were watched until an excuse was found for their death. Those who stayed away from them were condemned as proud men; those who approached boldly were coming to condemn them. Those offering help were suspected of plotting. The poor and the rich suffered together, and the only punishment for any offense was death.”

Josephus lamented for his generation:

“It could only be because God had doomed Jerusalem to destruction that He allowed this…..No one left alive dared to weep for their slain relatives or bury them, for anyone caught morning soon joined those they mourned. Only in the night could they safely take up a little dust and scatter it on their bodies, even though some were bold enough to do so in the daytime. Twelve thousand of the city’s better people died in this massacre”.

“Dead bodies were left to putrify in the sun by the side of the roads and within the city, in defiance of the Law. The prophets were laughed at, although they foretold that Jerusalem would be taken in war and destroyed once sedition took over the Jews and they polluted their temple”.

“No other city ever suffered such miseries, nor did any age ever breed such a wicked generation. They confessed truthfully that they were slaves, scum, the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation, overthrowing the city themselves and forcing the Romans to gain a bad reputation by acting gloriously against them”.

“The suffering of the city grew worse every day, until even the Rebels began to suffer the famine…The people were raking through dung piles for food… The heaped-up bodies by the gate were such a horrible sight producing such a terrible smell that they hindered those sallying out against the Romans, although by now they were so used to death that they merely walked over the death”

“The temple was burned on August 10, AD 70, exactly the same day as it was burned by the Babylonians…The Romans decided it was useless to try and save the many buildings outside the Temple and burned everything, including the Temple treasury containing the entire wealth of the Jewish nation. The soldiers then went to the remaining cloisters of the outer temple, where about 6,000 people had fled, and set the cloisters on fire, killing all 6,000”.

Listen to what Jesus said to the generation in Jerusalem:

“Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son. And he sent out his slaves to call those who had been invited to the wedding feast, and they were unwilling to come. Again he sent out other slaves saying, ‘Tell those who have been invited, “Behold, I have prepared my dinner; my oxen and my fattened livestock are all butchered and everything is ready; come to the wedding feast.”’ But they paid no attention and went their way, one to his own farm, another to his business, and the rest seized his slaves and mistreated them and killed them. But the king was enraged, and he sent his armies and destroyed those murderers and set their city on fire.” – Matthew 22:1-7

Josephus’ wisdom on this is surprisingly accurate:

“But they had ignored the signs they had already been given of the coming destruction. A star resembling a sword and a comet has stood over the city for a whole year”. See, Luke 21:25

Noting all the warnings and signs that Jerusalem had been given, Josephus further remarks, “If anyone thinks about these things, he will find that God takes care of us and shows us how to preserve ourselves, but we perish by the miseries we bring on ourselves.” (see, Matthew 6:33; Matthew 7: 24-27 ; 2 Peter 1: 2-11)”.

LAST THOUGHTS

According to Josephus, “The number taken captive during the whole war (seven years) was 97,000. The number perishing during the siege was 1.1 million, most of them Jewish, but not from Jerusalem. Most of the victims had come to Jerusalem for Passover, been trapped there, and died from plague and famine”. see, Revelation 18:8

He went on the remark that, “Neither its great antiquity, its vast riches, the spread of its people over all the earth, nor the veneration paid to it could preserve Jerusalem from destruction. And thus ended the siege of Jerusalem”. See, Deuteronomy 28:37; as well as the following link

http://www.openbible.info/labs/cross-references/search?q=Zechariah+8%3A13

And boy, oh boy…what he right.

Coming the to grips with how the 1st century Jewish-Roman War fulfills the details of the ‘end times’ of your Bible is very important. In a nutshell, what this conveys is that mankind (whether Jew or Gentile) has now been shown very clearly that any ‘natural’ system that endeavors to lead men through carnality will fail. The only ‘kingdom’ that will stand is the Kingdom of God manifested through Jesus Christ.. Let those who have the eyes to see, see; and those who have the ears to hear, hear.

In Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

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“Future Promises” or “Present Realities”?!?!

I literally just finished preaching on the “New Heavens and New Earth” at the Blue Point Bible Church (well, about 35 minutes to be exact). The crux of my message was to prove that the preaching of a “yet” future “glory” to be revealed is detrimental to the Church growing in the “glory” that is already here. As titled, “The NOW PRESENT- New Heavens and New Earth”. You can listen to that podcast at this link:

http://www.buzzsprout.com/11630/333206-revelation-21-1-8-the-now-present-new-heaven-new-earth

In light of all the confusion in the world today, and even the disheartening news article our congregation talked about this morning, “Where is God?”, we so desperately need to understand the application of the “healing of the nations”, The “healing of the nations” is not a far off hope but rather a now present reality we are called to “walk in”.

I made a remark in my sermon that, “”The Futurist confuses the the time of fulfillment in the 1st century, upon whom the consummation of the Ages had come, and stretches that times to ours. In doing so, they offer a deferred hope, and become guilty of “making many sick” (see, Proverbs 13:12)”.

Pastor Robert Iannucilli, pastor of Faith of Fire in Hicksville, N.Y, is a man I admire. He is wise, gracious, and from what I have come to know through conversations both public and private he is honest and seeks truth in all that he says and does. All of which I would say is the mark of a Christian (see, 1 Timothy 1:5)”.

Pastor Iannuccili, is a “Futurist”. He and I had a ‘public conversation’ regarding the ‘narrative’ of the Bible from ‘Cover to Cover’ last February. You can view that on Youtube at the following link:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5JBs-MRYaTE

Some have made the remark that ‘debate’ brings out the details better than ‘conversation’ because it corners and draws out the different perspectives. Who corners people in ‘conversation’?

I would agree, however I believe the ‘understanding of Spiritual/ Scriptural Truth’ comes with patience and perseverance. If I were a ‘worldly debater’ I would seek the best tactic to corner my opponent to prove my case, however as a “Christian” who seeks to glorify God and enable others to live “life to the full” (see John 10:10), I enter ‘conversation’ trusting God will reveal his truth.

I say all of that because in response to the points I made above about “Futurist views”, Pastor Iannucilli make the following remark:

Justification is ours in provision, Sanctification is ours in process, Glorification is ours in promise. The kingdom has indeed come; inauguration without consummation.”

I must admit. I rather like that quote. It provides substance- we are justified in Christ, sanctified in Christ and yet we await the time when His glory will be revealed in us. The kingdom is indeed here, but we look forward to the grand finale.

On the surface, I am inclined to agree with that statement. After all, I am a sinner, and as I grow in Christ and trust in Christ I will see more of His kindom, just imagine how glorious that is as is proceeds through eternity!!!

Yet there are some contextual problems. And following the “contextual problems” are “doctine problems”, “belief problems”, “false hope problems”, and “application problems”. Must of which I believe are evident in the confusion of the world today. By and lagre, it seems the Church has failed, and is continuing to fail to be the “healing of the nations”.

If we fail to understand something in its’ ‘fullness’, wouldn’t we therefore fail to demonstrate it in its “fullness”?

What I am going to do for the rest of this article is provide responses to some statements and Bible Verses that Pastor Robert Iannucilli brought up rergading a ‘yet-future “glory”’. Following that, I pray we will begin to grow in the application and worldview of what it already present and given to the Church, rather than offer ‘out of context’, ‘based on Tradition’, or ‘subjective’ “hopes” to the world.

First, let’s look at the “earnest” of our inheritance in Ephesians 1:14 and 2 Corinthians 1:22, as asked about by Pastor Iannuccilii:

The Apostle Paul made it very clear in all of his writings that he preached and taught of nothing other than the “one hope” of Israel (see, Ephesians 4:4; Acts 24: ; and Acts 26 ). That being said, when we are reading through the writings written by him as he was “inspired by God”, we are reading about the details of how God was fulfilling all that Israel hoped for- the jots and tittles of the Law as revealed through the Torah and the Prophets.

The “end times” that are being prophesied about in the Old Testament are finding their consummation in the New Testament. These were the “last days” of the Old Covenant (see, Hebrews 8:13). I have a whole presentation on the “hope of Israel” that brings you through the Biblical Prophets and shows you that the “hope” was for a restored ‘covenant’ with God (which is revealed through Jesus fulfilled the “jots” and “tittles” of the Law in that “generation” and it would all find its consummation” at the destruction of Jerusalem (the world/ land- Greek term Ge) – see, Matthew 24:3.

In Ephesians chapter 1, the Apostle Paul is detailing the the summation of all things, or as he puts it “the administration suitable to the fullness of times”, is all summed up in Christ. The Holy Spirit was given as a deposit to the first century saints until the ‘coming of the Lord’ was revealed to complete salvation, see Hebrews 9:28. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all that Israel hoped for. If you follow that understanding, the details are further noted in Ephesians chapters 2 and 3.

Today, Jesus Christ is ‘present’ within the ‘Body of Christ’, this was made clear at the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, and it was made clear that God’s dwelling place is with His people, those who have been brought into the New Jerusalem (in other words, the New Covenant).

In 2 Corinthians 1:22 further explains and exhibits exactly what I said in regards to the deposit of the Spirit and the promises of God.

Pastor Iannucilli asked, “What is the significance (in context) of Paul’s speaking of knowing in part, prophesying in part, etc in 1 Corinthians chapter 13”.

The context of the Apostle Paul’s 1st writing to those at Corinth is surely something many seem to be confused about. The goal of the writing is detailed in the first chapter, and is evident throughout the text. The Apostle Paul is detailing that the divisions happening within the Corinthian congregation are inappropriate and are based on a misapplication of the Gospel as noted in 1 Corinthians chapter 15.

In order to understand the ‘context’ of 1 Corinthians chapter 13, we must remember there were no chapter dividers in the original text and go back to the beginning of the discussion, specifically in chapter 12- “The Use of Spiritual Gifts”. Sadly in the church today this text gives rise to the arguments between ‘charismatics’ and ‘cessationists’ (a debate I have not found a side to sit on), and we miss the ‘context’ of what the Apostle Paul was speaking about.

Simply put, the first century was a tricky time- God was bringing together Jew and Gentile in Christ, fulfilling the promises Israel longed for throughout the ages is a rather “mysterious” way. The two groups had always hated each other (explained a bit in Ephesians chapters 2-3) and now it was being revealed that each person had a part in the body (again, pretty much the point of the Apostle Paul’s 1st letter to the Corinthians if we start from chapter 1).

As we move into 1 Corinthians chapter 13, specifically verses 9-12, which Pastor Iannucilli asked about, the context is that we can have all the “spiritual gifts” in the world, and if we cannot ‘love one another’, then it is all futile. The Apostle Paul in this context is pointing out that dividing over Spiritual gifts which were only manifestations of the “Spirit” being done “in part” would eventually be done away. The same imagery is explained and maybe a bit more clearly in 2 Corinthians chapters 3-5 (the fading of the Old Covenant and the coming glory of the New Covenant”. As Full Preterist, Michael Sullivan, writes on the topic:

These miraculous gifts were brought about by the Holy Spirit in Israel’s old covenant “last days” to reveal it’s near end, maturity, and fulfillment as found “in Christ” the mediator of the new and better covenant.  The old covenant’s “in part” status had a “goal” and “maturity” process that needed to be fulfilled by the new covenant work of Christ in His redemption performed in the cross and parousia.”

This would all finds its’ completion at the “coming of the Lord” – which was said by Christ Himself to occur while some of those standing in front of Him were alive (Matthew 16:27-28), before they finished going through the cities of Israel (see, Matthew chapter 10), and in that “generation” (see, Matthew 24:24)”.

Pastor Iannucilli also asked, “Is the glorification of our bodies a present spiritual glorification or a future dimension of salvation applied? What’s the purpose / significance of healing if the physical means nothing?”

This I believe is where a lot of the confusion comes in. A contextual look at the ‘Old Testament Prophets’ reveals that it was never a ‘hope’ of Israel to be raised out of “biological death”, what many refer to as some sort of “glorification”. Instead, the contextual hope of Israel is a “resurrection” out of the sin-death which was brought on by the Old Covenant Law.

The “body” that is being resurrected, is the corporate body of Israel under Law (the small and the great, the dead and the living) would be “raised up” and stand before God in judgment – either in glory or condemnation. In AD 70, the “corporate body” of Old Covenant Israel was judged and destroyed, and the “Body of Christ” was fully consummated and established as the “means of salvation” for all men. While the Temple stood, and judgement had not been revealed against Old Covenant Jerusalem- salvation was “already but not yet” (see, Ephesians chapter 1 and 2, as well as Hebrews 9:28).


Simply put, it was not an individual thing. Focusing on some individual “resurrected body” is an exciting teaching that finds it start with Hellentistic (Greek) thinking and man’s teachings – not the “one hope” of Israel as revealed through the Law and the Prophets.

To answer directly the follow up statement made by Pastor Iannuccili, “What’s the purpose/ significance of healing if the physical means nothing?”. Please note…I have not said anywhere that the “physical means nothing”. In context, the “physical” or better said, and more Biblically correct, the “natural” Covenant stood condemned because “natural” or “physical” Israel had not walked worthy of the righteousness through Law. The purpose of this is stated in Galatians chapter 3. “Flesh and blood could not inherit the kingdom of God” (see, 1 Corinthians 15:50). Through the “natural”/ physical, God would demonstrate the Spiritual.

I believe Pastor Iannuccili wanted to make this an ‘individual’ thing, which is out of context. However, I will make the point that through miraculous physical healing, God intends to point to the “greater” healing in Spirit. This was the purpose of Christ’s miracles in the first century, and I would dare say is the point of miracles today.


I believe I have already demonstrated this point, however the last question Pastor Iannucilli asked was, “Is this (presently) as much of a reign of righteousness in the ‘new heavens and new earth’ that we can expect?”

If the whole narrative of the Bible is speaking about man’s failure to attain righteousness on His own, and how God through Jesus Christ would supply His people with righteousness (essentially what I understand through the context of Scripture to be the Gospel), then I must ask, “How much more righteous can Jesus get?”

I am not sure what Pastor Iannuccili is expected as a further “reign of righteousness”, however when I understand the ‘Old Heaven and Old Earth’ as Israel’s Old Covenant- nothing their failure of being the “righteousness of God”, and then I consider the glory that has been revealed through Jesus Christ- Him fulfilling ALL the jots and tittles of the Law”, I sure see a greater magnitude of revealed glory. Not quite sure how to expect any more.

You see….this is not a simple detail we can dismiss by saying, “Oh, ok, difference of opinion”. Jesus Christ said Himself that He came to fulfill the “jots and tittles of the Law”, He went on to say that not “one jot or tittle would pass from the Law, until all is fulfilled”. This is all in Matthew chapter 5 verses 17-19.

The context of the entire Biblical narrative is demonstrating through the details of the Law that Old Covenant Israel “in the natural” could not be “righteous” as was demanded of them, however through Jesus Christ, all men- Jew & Gentile – have the opportunity to become the “righteousness of God” (see, 2 Corinthians 5:19-21).

In order to establish that righteousness, Jesus Christ would fulfill all the details of the Law, which includes ALL the promises made to “Israel of the flesh” (ie, natural Old Covenant Israel). This is detailed specifically in Romans chapter 15:8-9. The Gentiles will worship God for His mercy, when He fulfills the promises made to Israel of the Flesh.

The final point is this…….if the “Resurrection of the Dead”, the “Coming of the Lord”, and the “New Heavens and New Earth” were all promises made to Old Covenant Israel. The “greater glory” that was to be revealed to the first century audience, was revealed exactly how and when God said they would- in that generation. We live in the “outcome” of those events, the reality – in FULL GLORY – of the New Heavens and New Earth.

It is not God that is holding out on the solution for all that this world suffers from, namely the worship and reign of the carnal mind through mankinds sin. No, it’s confusion that reigns within the ‘Body of Christ’ regarding all that God has established and FULFILLED in and through us.

Let us endeavor to walk worthy.

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

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Advent Season: “WHAT IF “…God Really is Faithful?

if

This past Sunday evening marked the beginning of ‘Advent’ observance. Many traditions choose to disregard this ‘Catholic’ holiday, however I am always inclined to mine these traditions for ways they can speak to us today and further our discipleship.

Advent highlights the the time we wait anticipating our celebration of Christmas. Again, I am familiar with the various discussions regarding the traditions- both the interdenominational discussions as well as the seeming pagan assertions- that is not the point here.

As I mine the tradition, I am reminded of the 400 years that Israel suffered a famine of the word from the time of the prophet Malachi to the birth of Jesus Christ – as the prophets remarked, “The consolation of Israel” as well as the “redemption of Jerusalem”.

The birth of the Messiah marks the fulfillment of God’s promise in the midst of man’s sin. Going back to the Garden story of the early chapters of Genesis, where we read about the ‘fall from grace’ that Adam and Eve suffered, we come to realize that noting Genesis 3:15, “.. God did not leave them without hope. God buried a promise in the curse. At some time, a Redeemer would rise up and crush evil, even though the embodiment of evil, Satan, would first strike the Redeemer’s heal”. – excerpt from The Promise of Christmas, RBC pamphlet

For thousands of years the Jews had talked about God’s promised Redeemer. They had the words of the prophets and knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, south of Jerusalem. They knew He would be born to a woman who was a virgin. They knew He would be born to a descendant of King David. Someday He would come…”

I took some time to look up what ancient rabbi’s as well as what the ancient Jewish Targums had to say about Genesis 3:15, ultimately the fulfillment of the “mystery of the Ages”. One Targum mentioned that, ““The things which God created perfect since man sinned have become corrupt and do not return to their proper condition until the son of Perez (i.e. according to Gen. xxxviii. 29, Ruth iv. 18 ff. the Messiah out of the tribe of Judah) comes.”

See this link for more information on the rabbi’s and targums, http://www.hadavar.org/CriticalIssues/Genesis_3_RabbinicSupport.html

As we conclude to our current year-long series of going through the whole Bible at Blue Point Bible Church, we have come to understand the “hope of Israel” and how the details of Revelation are explaining Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of Israel’s long awaited hope. Ultimately, the details of the ‘Book of Revelation’ are how Jesus Christ would be revealed in glory and judgment against that wicked generation and system of worship that failed to worship God in Spirit and in Truth (see, John 4:24).

What is revealed through the Messiah is that what was impossible for man, is possible with God. Man could never be righteous, yet God could accomplish righteousness and bring the Church into that reality.

This past Sunday I preached about how the Old Covenant failed to display the ‘righteousness’ (or to use Deuteronomy chapter 4- they failed to be the “wisdom” and “understanding” of God), and I admonished each of us to “walk worthy” of what we have in Christ Jesus.

Join us this Advent season, on Saturday evenings at Blue Point Bible Church, as we go through Mark Batterson’s book, IF, allowing his insights to encourage us to live faithfully in regards to all that God calls us to be…and conclude with a Christmas Eve service that will inspire and challenge you in regards to the reality we know in Jesus Christ – “God With Us”.

Saturdays – 12/5; 12/12/; 12/19 @ 7PM

Christmas Eve Service – @ 7PM

Be Inspired to Live For His Glory This Season!

Blessings in Christ,

Pastor Michael Miano

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