The Banner Of Truth 2014
Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. (Psalm 60:4 )

"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear Thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth" (Ps. 60:4).
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An Overview of the Revelation
Part 8
By Al Stoner
 
"The Hundred and Forty-Four Thousand"

In Genesis 49 Jacob, upon his soon approaching departure from “this present world” (Tit. 2:12), has gathered his twelve sons unto him to declare unto them what would befall them “in the last days”.  These final words to his sons would be his very last words, for it is written: “And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people” (v. 33).  His words were not all words of blessing in the sense that men are often given to think.  Some of his sons were to him, indeed, a cause for great joy and consolation, but some of them were the source of the expressions of grief, which are recorded in Genesis 49.  These sorrows had proved to be cumbersome burdens, painfully weighing him down in the closing years of his life.  He had carried them daily and had kept them all hidden away in his heart until this final occasion. 
 
How different is the accounting of Jacob’s twelve sons that we read there from that which is recorded here in the Revelation!  There, in Genesis 49, we witness expressions of both grief and rejoicing, but mostly grief.  But here in the Revelation we behold a glorious scenario of the everlasting triumph and exaltation of redeemed personalities.  In Moses’ record we are given to foresee the consequences, both good and evil, of lifetimes pertaining to the twelve “sons of Israel” (I Chr. 2:1).  For weal or woe, the fruit of their doings extended unto many generations to come.  And were it not for the promise made unto Abraham (Gen. 22:15-19), Isaac (Gen. 26:24-25), and Jacob (Gen. 28:10-15), as well as the timely merciful interventions of the Lord Jehovah, and the constant undergirding by His everlasting arms (Deut. 33:27) in the prospect of the coming promised Seed and Deliverer (cf. Gal. 3:19), the Lord Jesus Christ, Israel would surely long ago have perished (cf. Deut. 9:8, 20; Hos. 13:9-14; Hos. 14).

 
 

There are comparisons to consider between Jacob and the Lord Jesus.   Jacob was not turned away from the Divine perspective.  In this he foreshadowed the Savior. Jacob could not forget his sons, but neither could he forget the deeds that they had done.  He did not become accustomed to the evils that they had done, merely because they were his sons, but rather, in the words of the Savior, he judged “righteous judgment” (Jn. 7:24) in these matters.   In similar manner God could not forget the evils that we had done, and thus, in accordance with His eternal purpose in Christ Jesus (cf. Eph. 3:10-11), “when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4:4-5).  As it is written, "Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures" (I Cor. 15:1-3).
 
Here is another comparison.  Jacob called and gathered all of his sons unto him to make this final declaration unto them (Gen. 49:1-3), and they came.  But in stark contrast, “how often” the Lord Jesus Christ “would have gathered” (Mt. 23:27; Lk. 13:34) Jerusalem and all of her children together unto Him, but they “would not”.  “He came unto His own, and His own received Him not” (Jn. 1:11).  Jacob’s sons received him as their father according to the flesh.  But in the case of the Lord Jesus, “His own” according to the flesh did not receive Him.  Yea, in the words of the Psalmist, they “would none of” Him (cf. Ps. 81:11).  “But as many as” did receive “Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name” (Jn. 1:12).  These “were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (v.13).
 
Jacob had twelve sons by two wives and by his wives’ two handmaids.  Reuben Simeon, Levi, Judah, Zebulun, and Issachar he had by Leah.  Dan and Naphtali he had by Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid.  Gad and Asher he had by Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid.  Jacob had Joseph and Benjamin by Rachel.  And from those twelve sons came forth a vast multitude of sons and daughters, the number of which is known only unto God.  Unto these twelve sons and their offspring pertained “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen” (Rom. 9:4-5). 
 
All of these marvelous benefits were called by the Lord Jesus “the children’s bread” (Mt. 15:26). Abraham’s numberless offspring according to the flesh were granted, as it were, “front row” admittance unto these benefits.  Salvation is “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (cf. Rom. 1:16)!  “Salvation is of the Jews” (Jn. 4:22).  For at least two millennia of time Abraham’s children according to the flesh were “nigh” unto these glorious salvational provisions, being instructed of them in the law, and we Gentiles were “afar off” from them (see Eph. 2:11-18).  They were the “children” and we were the “dogs” (Mt. 15:26).  “At that time” we Gentiles “were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world” (Eph. 2:12).
 
But this favored position of first access to the benefits of God’s salvation in Christ would be eternally advantageous only unto those who, from the heart, are stirring themselves up to take hold of the benefits for themselves (see Isa. 64:7).  It is impossible for men, in their natural state, to receive eternal benefits from God.  “Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption” (I Cor. 15:50).  Again, the Apostle declares: “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14).   By nature men do not even have the capacity to desire the things that Jesus has wrought in their behalf.  A change must take place in the essential person.  And God has made abundant provision for this change in the new birth and in new creatureship in Christ.
 
From another perspective, this everlasting blessedness shall be only for those who desire it more than any thing else, and who seek for it with the whole heart.  This is in accordance with the nature of God’s Person, as well as the nature of the new covenant.  The world to come will not be populated with persons who continue walking in the vanity of their minds, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind.  Neither will it be populated with religious people who do not enter into the sheepfold by Christ Jesus, who Himself is the Door (Jn. 10:9).  The inhabitants of that eternal world will be comprised of a very select group of persons.  Everyone there will have some unique boast in the Lord Jesus Christ as to the reason why they are present there, and with regard to the dominion that they shall be given to take charge of.
 
The Lord Jesus spoke of the status and condition, both of those who have believed on Him and those who have not when He comes again on this wise.  He said of those who have “received Him” (Jn. 1:12), “Many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven. But” with regard to those who neglected Him He added, “the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 8:11-12).  
 
“The children of the kingdom” in this case are religious people who were, of God, granted the blessed privilege of extended access to, as well as nearness to, the covenants of promise, but whose hearts were not tenderly affected by that access.  They were not among those, like Anna, Simeon, Mary, Joseph, Zacharias, Elizabeth, and others, who were “waiting for the consolation of Israel” (Lk. 2:25) when the Savior came into the world the first time.  Many who were schooled in Moses and the Prophets all of their lifetime were wholly unprepared in their hearts for the Lord’s Christ and were looking for other things that this life had to offer them.  They were not looking for Jesus!  He was as a stranger to them. They heard the voices of the Prophets read every Sabbath Day in their synagogues, but the Good Shepherd’s voice they knew not. --Editor
 

(To be Concluded Tomorrow)

 


"Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;  and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately" (Lk. 12:35-36).