In other words, God designed the giving of firstfruits to be a remarkable experience, not a regular tax. Firstfruits included the first increase from wool, animals, crops and money — any type of increase. The difference between paying a tax and giving firstfruits is gratitude. Tax is a necessary obligation. The giving of firstfruits was supposed to be accompanied with an attitude of gratitude, and embedded in the experience was a financial anticipation. The , are called firstfruits in Revelation for two reasons. First , the , will be the firstfruits of the coming harvest to be sealed.
Later on, the individuals who hear their testimony during the great tribulation and pass the test of faith will also be sealed as the , were sealed. Second , the , are called firstfruits because they are a sample of what follows. If barley was presented as a firstfruits offering, the harvest that followed would, of course, be barley. The , and the numberless multitude that come after them will be identical in composition. These matters will prove to be extremely important when we examine the Jewish heritage of the , and the great multitude in Specification 8.
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One last comment — when the firstfruits were presented to the High Priest, they became his property. The parallel is that when the , are presented to God and Jesus, our High Priest, they will belong to the Father and the Son. As a result, they will be highly exalted and they will follow the Lamb wherever He goes throughout eternity.
Of course, they will be sexually pure, but so will everyone else who enters into the holy city! This is the second death. Are women inherently defiling?
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Of course not! The Bible says the sexual experience between a man and woman within the confines of marriage is neither defiling nor immoral. Genesis ; 1 Corinthians ; Hebrews Other people say the , will be Jewish males that have not been sexually immoral with women. Look again! This text does not imply the , will be males!
Women can defile themselves with women! Compare Leviticus with Romans Certain groups of Christians interpret this verse to mean the , will be members of their particular church — which, they believe, is the only church on Earth possessing the truth about God.
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Every religious system claims to know God best. The arrogance and ignorance of religion is difficult to measure. Rule Three of apocalyptic prophecy says that we should examine parallel language in the Bible to determine the intended meaning of this phrase. In so doing, we will find this specification to be a superlative statement about the devotion of the , to the Lord. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.
Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. Hebrews Israel was to be a kingdom of priests showing fallen man the love and ways of God. Bible history confirms that Israel essentially ignored this law from the start.
He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. Foreign wives led Solomon astray, and in turn, King Solomon led Israel into apostasy. Consequently, it became impossible for God to produce a nation of priests because His people had no interest in accomplishing His objectives. About years after Solomon died, God destroyed the ten northern tribes of Israel, and years after that, He exiled the remaining two tribes to Babylon.
During the seventy years of Babylonian captivity, Jewish captives continued to intermarry. Who can reason with two young people in love that they should not marry because there is a law against it? The parents of Samson tried to reason with him, but they could not overcome his affection or should I say, affliction for Delilah.
In short, this is the dilemma of the carnal nature. Our rebellion against God is caused by a heart that is grossly selfish, and our failure to understand the grand purposes for which we were created. In the first month of the Jubilee year of B. After a lengthy trip, Ezra arrived in Jerusalem and he was overwhelmed with the indifferent attitude of the people toward God and the degenerate condition of Israel. After surveying the situation for himself, Ezra called for the leaders. They have taken some of their daughters as wives for themselves and their sons, and have mingled the holy race with the peoples around them.
And the leaders and officials have led the way in this unfaithfulness. But in spite of this, there is still hope for Israel. Now let us make a covenant before our God to send away all these women and their children, in accordance with the counsel of my lord [Ezra] and of those who fear the commands of our God. Let it be done according to the Law. Now make confession to the Lord, the God of your fathers, and do his will. Separate yourselves from the peoples around you and from your foreign wives.
We must do as you say.
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They will not be deterred by marital conflicts or familial rejection. They will not be compromised. They will fulfill the calling, mission and purpose for which God ordains them. On the surface, the phrase says the , will not be defiled by women, however, beneath the surface, there is a lot more to this phrase than avoiding sexual immorality. Abraham was severely tested to see if he loved Isaac more than God.
Hebrews , 25 Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were severely tested to see whether they would obey God.
Daniel Daniel was severely tested to see if he would continue to pray to God. Daniel Job was severely tested to see if his faith in God was nonnegotiable. Job Jesus was severely tested in the wilderness by the devil Matthew and He was tempted in every way as we are. Hebrews The , will be severely tested to see if their love for Jesus will endure humiliation and the scorn of rejection.
Once they pass their fiery test, they will be mysteriously transformed within.
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This mysterious transformation requires some explanation. What is the mystery of God mentioned in Revelation ? We know that it will be completed at the seventh trumpet, but when does it start? During the judgment of the living, the carnal nature will be removed from everyone who receives Jesus as their Savior and passes the test of faith.
The , will be the first people to experience this amazing transformation. After they have been severely tested and transformed, God will place His seal on their foreheads indicating a secure and permanent transaction has occurred. Remember the four uses of seals in the Bible? The seal of God on the , indicates a finished transformation, a secured position.
The , will be delivered from the attraction of sin. The sinless and bold behavior of the , will reflect this stunning transformation. They will speak the truth without regard to consequences. After they are tested and judged, their carnal nature will be mysteriously and miraculously removed. In fact, they will have a distinct repulsiveness toward sin. The , will be the first to receive what Adam and Eve lost when they sinned. After each person is sealed, the struggle with the carnal nature will be over!
Sin will be repulsive and unnatural. Paul knew this transition was coming, even though he did not know exactly when. The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the [whole] house of Israel [the ten tribes that lived in the north] and with the house of Judah [the two tribes that lived in the south]. It will not be like the [bilateral] covenant I made with their forefathers [in Exodus 19] when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because [of their carnal hearts] they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from [rejected] them, declares the Lord.
This is the [everlasting] covenant I will make with the house [twelve tribes] of Israel after that time [the years allotted for the duration of sin] , declares the Lord. I will [transform their hearts and minds and] put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts [so there will be no rebellion toward me within their body]. I will be their God, and they will be my people. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more. The gospel of Jesus is more than words. The gospel of Jesus is a way of life and love. From the human perspective, we will look at the , as bold people at first.
These ordinary people will prove to be anything but ordinary after they begin their ministry. All the money in the world will not be able to buy the seal of God.