New Jerusalem II

Q. Rev 22 says 14 “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city. 15 Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. Is it not true that all the sinners have gone to hell by that time? Why would they still be outside the city? If outside the city is hell, why would those who wash their robes go in and out of the city?

Also, 5 There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. What will they be reigning? Will everyone be a king?

A. According to Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire, all unbelievers would have been cast into hell by that time.

Let’s dissect v 14-15 to see what it means. First, “wash their robes” is in reference to:
Rev 7:14 I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Washing their robes white in the Lamb’s blood is figurative, not literal.

Second, “tree of life” appears first in Revelation in:
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’
The overcomers are those who persevere and are victorious. Eating of the tree of life means being granted eternal life. I believe it is more figurative than literal.

Third, “dogs” appears 8 times in the NT, here and in:
Mt 7:6 “Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.
• Mt 15:26-27 And He answered and said, “It is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table.” (See also Mk 7:27-28)
• Lk 16:21 and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.
• Php 3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;

Except in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, all 7 references are figurative of the unholy, the Gentiles, the evil workers, the false people of God, the sinners, not literal.

Therefore I believe “outside” does not mean physically outside the city, but figuratively, barred from entering. Rev 22:14 does not say go in and out of the city, only “enter by the gates into the city” (NASB). Nor does Rev 21.

Next, reign. Besides Rev 22:5, believers reigning is taught in:
2 Tim 2:12 If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us;
• Rev 5:10 “You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.”
• Rev 20:4, 6 Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years.

Rev 5:10 refers to the men and women purchased for God with the Lamb’s blood from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Rev 20:4, 6 refer to those who were martyred, those who had not worshipped the Antichrist and received his mark. They will reign with Christ during the Millennium.

There are degrees of reward. In Lk 19:13 a nobleman gave 10 of his slaves 10 minas to do business. When he returned, he called them to give an account:
Lk 19:16-19 The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ 17 And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ 18 The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ 19 And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’

Each slave was given 1 mina, and the reward is proportional to the results. The one who earned more was put in authority over more. I do not know what the specific duties of being “in charge” involves, only that they will reign, some with higher rank. I don’t think everyone will be a king. Some will be barely saved:
1 Co 3:14-15 If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

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New Jerusalem I

Q. Rev 21 describes the New Jerusalem. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

This seems to imply that not everyone will live inside the city and that ranks (kings) and nations still exist in the new world. If there are gates, there must be people going in and out of the city. Maybe the new Jerusalem is not where all believers will be. Any views on this?

A. Although I favor literal interpretation in general, you need to know the OT background to interpret properly. Rev. 21:24-27 draws upon the imagery in several passages:
Is 60:3 “Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.
• Is 60:5 “Then you will see and be radiant, and your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, the wealth of the nations will come to you.
• Is 60:11 “Your gates will be open continually; They will not be closed day or night, so that men may bring to you the wealth of the nations, with their kings led in procession.
• Is 52:1 Awake, awake, clothe yourself in your strength, O Zion; Clothe yourself in your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city; For the uncircumcised and the unclean will no longer come into you.
• Joel 3:17 Then you will know that I am the Lord your God, dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain. So Jerusalem will be holy, and strangers will pass through it no more.

First, the nations and kings are those who obey God, not those in rebellion and were destroyed:
Rev 16:19 The great city was split into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell. Babylon the great was remembered before God, to give her the cup of the wine of His fierce wrath.
• Rev 19:19 And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies assembled to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army.

Second, the gates will not be shut, but open continually. But notice who can enter:
• Nothing impure.
• Not the shameful or deceitful i.e. sinners.
• Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life i.e. saved. Rev 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
• Not the uncircumcised and the unclean i.e. the unrepentant. Circumcision here refers to the heart, by the Spirit (Rom 2:29).
• Not strangers i.e. not those to whom the Lord declares, “I never knew you”.

The unsaved will be in the lake of fire. So taken together I believe “entering the city” is figurative of “being saved”, and does not mean living outside the city and physically entering it.

Healing of Nations

Q. Why is the tree of life in Rev 22:2 for the healing of nations? Didn’t Rev 21:4 say there will no longer be any death or pain?

A. Although the words “sickness”, “illness” or “disease” are not in Rev 21:4, the implication is that they will no longer be present in heaven:
Rev 21:4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.

So if there is no sickness or illness, why is there need for healing?
Rev 22:2 in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

“Healing” translates the Greek word therapeia, which means:
• service rendered by one to another; care or attention;
• medical service, from which we get the English word “therapy”; cure;
• household service.

Taking the context of heaven into consideration, healing in Rev 22:2 should mean “for the service of”, which is so translated in:
Disciples’ Literal NTin the middle of its wide-road. And on this side and on that side of the river is a tree of life producing twelve fruits, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the service of the nations.
Young’s Literal Translationin the midst of its broad place, and of the river on this side and on that, [is] a tree of life, yielding twelve fruits, in each several month rendering its fruits, and the leaves of the tree [are] for the service of the nations;
The understanding is one of health-giving, not curing of disease.

Dave Hunt and Hugh Ross

Q. What do you think of Dave Hunt’s Daniel’s prophesies? I have read many articles on “prove the Bible is God’s inspired words”, both historically and scientifically. I have found that people don’t appreciate historical proofs very well. Do you know of any better scientific articles than those of astrophysicists Hugh Ross’?

A. With respect to Dave Hunt’s interpretation of Daniel’s prophecies, that is a very broad question. Hunt wrote many books on prophecy, some of which involved Daniel & would require many pages to respond. Can you narrow it down to specific topics more manageable in my humble blog? In general Hunt is evangelical dispensational, but rejects Calvinism. My own position is evangelical, non-dispensational, & primarily Reformed. Beyond that I would rather comment on specific subjects than make broad-sweep statements.

As to Hugh Ross, he is an old-earth creationist. He advocates progressive creation, which holds that the universe began with the Big Bang controlled by God. An alternative creationism model is young-earth. If you are interested you can read up on papers from:

• Institute of Creation Research http://www.icr.org/ (Henry Morris)
• Answers in Genesis https://answersingenesis.org/ (Ken Ham)

People don’t appreciate historical proofs because they may think that they are not scientific. Science deals with making hypotheses, doing experiments, observing the results to see whether they support or reject their theory, & revising assumptions & testing again to see whether they are valid. That’s good for the present, upon which you predict future outcome provided your theory holds. But what do you do with the past when you cannot perform experiments on them?

What happened occurred in time past, & we cannot go back in time to observe the events as they happened. Science is out of its realm. What remains is historical evidence, either physical objects or written records. The former falls under the domain of archeology, while the latter is within the study of history. Many have a tendency to value science above history. Actually both have their place, dealing with the present & the past respectively. We need to know each one’s limitations.

Greater Damnation

Q. What is “greater damnation” in Mt 23:14? It makes sense to me that sins comes in different sizes or severities, which then deserve different degrees of punishments. Some articles have commented that in hell, Satan does aggravate punishments commensurate with the sins.

A. Mt 23:14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. (KJV)

Although Mt 23:14 is not found in early manuscripts, some manuscripts include wording similar to:
Mk 12:40 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation.
• Lk 20:47 who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.

so we will analyze it as is. According to Mt 23:14 & its parallels, there are degrees of condemnation proportional to the sin i.e. greater condemnation for greater sin. Is this supported elsewhere in Scripture?

Yes. First, some sins are greater than others:
Lam 4:6a For the iniquity of the daughter of my people Is greater than the sin of Sodom, …
• Jn 19:11 Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”

Second, there are degrees of punishment:
Lk 12:47-48 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accord with his will, will receive many lashes, but the one who did not know it, and committed deeds worthy of a flogging, will receive but few. From everyone who has been given much, much will be required; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.

The one who knew will be punished more than the one who did wrong but did not know, because the former did it willfully. The scribes & Pharisees are hypocrites who knew but pretended to be holy. Therefore they are guilty of greater condemnation. I do not believe Satan control the degree of punishment, as he is not the judge.

Ezekiel’s Temple 3

Q. Is the temple, court, restored Israel etc. described in Ezk 40-48 talking about the new world? Will there be division of lands by tribes at that time? If so, which tribe do we belong to?

A. I was asked about Ezekiel’s Temple 6 years ago. This is what I wrote at that time:
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/ezekiels-temple-1/
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2011/09/21/ezekiels-temple-2/

I concluded that it is most likely the Millennial Temple to be built upon the Lord’s return. This seemed to fit the clues best, though not completely. I had several reservations, including:

Animal sacrifices (Ezk 43:18-27). But Hebrews tells us that Jesus offered up Himself once for all:
Heb 7:27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since He did this once for all when He offered up Himself.
• Heb 9:12 He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of His own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.
• Heb 9:26 for then He would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.
• Heb 10:10 And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

Now, since Jesus’ sacrifice of Himself is once for all, why repeat animal sacrifices which can never take away sin? Dispensationists tried to explain this away by saying it is only memorial of His sacrifice, not actually for removal of sin. But this is not what the text said, especially 45:20:
Ezk 43:20 And you shall take some of its blood and put it on the four horns of the altar and on the four corners of the ledge and upon the rim all around. Thus you shall purify the altar and make atonement for it.
• Ezk 43:26 Seven days shall they make atonement for the altar and cleanse it, and so consecrate it.
• Ezk 45:15 And one sheep from every flock of two hundred, from the watering places of Israel for grain offering, burnt offering, and peace offerings, to make atonement for them, declares the Lord GOD.
• Ezk 45:17 It shall be the prince’s duty to furnish the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and drink offerings, at the feasts, the new moons, and the Sabbaths, all the appointed feasts of the house of Israel: he shall provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings, and peace offerings, to make atonement on behalf of the house of Israel.
• Ezk 45:20 You shall do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who has sinned through error or ignorance; so you shall make atonement for the temple.

I also find this unsatisfactory because our Lord instituted the Lord’s supper in remembrance of Him:
1 Co 11:24-25 and when He had given thanks, He broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same way also He took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
Who gives them the right to switch back now?

Levitical priesthood. Ezk 43:19 refers to Levitical priests of the family of Zadok. But, again according to Hebrews, the Levitical priesthood can never help us attain perfection, and had been superseded by Jesus’ priesthood after the order of Melchizedek:
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron?
• Heb 7:15 This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek,
• Heb 7:17 For it is witnessed of him, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”

So again, why revert to a replaced system that never worked?

It is for these and other objections that even well-known pastors such as Calvary Chapel’s Chuck Smith confessed that they don’t have a complete understanding of Ezk 40-48. So I am in good company when I don’t understand fully.

(To be continued)

How God Judges

Q. I’ve known “Christians” whose behaviors do not measure up to what I expect of true believers. Are they saved? How will God judge?

A. I have written on related topics before, and refer you to previous posts:
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/principles-of-judgment/
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2014/09/13/seed-on-rocky-ground/
https://raykliu.wordpress.com/2014/10/12/lazy-wicked-servant-2-of-2/

I believe the key test of whether a person is truly saved is fruitfulness. The Lord expected fruit from the Jews:
Lk 13:6-7 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’

And He expected it of His servants:
Mt 25:26-27 “But his master answered and said to him, ‘You wicked, lazy slave, you knew that I reap where I did not sow and gather where I scattered no seed. Then you ought to have put my money in the bank, and on my arrival I would have received my money back with interest.

However, unlike those who hold to “once saved always saved“, I do not believe one act of obedience once in a person’s life guarantees his/her salvation. Nor do I believe one act of disobedience cuts a person off from God’s grace, as the God of the Bible is:
Ex 34:6 The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in loving-kindness and truth;
God is a God of second chances, proven time and again throughout the Bible, but there is a limit and we should not presume on His forbearance.

As I explained in the article on “Principles of Judgment“, I believe God’s judgment is cumulative and based on obedience. That is, God looks at everything in the individual’s lifetime to determine whether he/she is truly obedient. Everything will be taken into account. Nothing will be overlooked. That’s why only God can judge whether your friend is a true believer or not, because only He knows all the thoughts, circumstances, considerations the person went through in acting the way he/she did. We see only the surface, like the tip of the iceberg, and are in no position to judge our fellow-men.

What if a wicked man repents or a righteous man turns bad? Then the principles in Ezekiel 18 apply:
Ezk 18:21-22 But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed and observes all My statutes and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely live; he shall not die. All his transgressions which he has committed will not be remembered against him; because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he will live.
• Ezk 18:24 But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done will not be remembered for his treachery which he has committed and his sin which he has committed; for them he will die.

That’s why I believe it is the whole pattern of one’s life, not just single acts, that determine whether he lives or dies. God assesses all at the end, taking the beginning, the end, and everything in between into consideration. He bases everything on truth, according to what was done, and does not play favorites. That’s why He is fair and every mouth will be stopped.

One last thing. According to Jesus, our concern should be whether we are following Jesus, not what will happen to others, as all of us will have to give an account of ourselves to God.
Jn 21:21-22 So Peter seeing him said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!
• Rom 14:4 Who are you to judge the servant of another? To his own master he stands or falls; and he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.
• Rom 14:12 So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.

So focus on your own discipleship. Don’t to nosy about what happens to others except to help them.