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Founder and Pastor General of The Restored Church of God, Editor-in-Chief of The Real Truth magazine, and voice of The World to Come program, David C. Pack has reached many millions around the globe with the most powerful truths of the Bible—unknown to almost all. He has authored 80 books and booklets, personally established over 50 congregations, and appeared as a guest on The History Channel. Mr. Pack attended Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, entered the Worldwide Church of God ministry in 1971, and was personally trained by its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong.Learn more
The Greatest Untold Story!
By Mr. David C. Pack
Author’s Introductory Note
The following transcripts contain a written record of dramatic new understanding given to God’s Church within a 75-plus-part sermon series titled “The Greatest Untold Story!” The series starts slow, but leads to knowledge so fascinating, powerful and life-changing that readers will find they are unable to stop reading. Because every sermon builds on the previous one, you are urged to review them in their proper order. Those who skip ahead to future parts will be utterly lost and will have no chance of understanding what they are reading, or where the series is going because they don’t know where it has been. Be patient and watch the inspiring picture unfold!
A longer ellipsis in a transcript (……) denotes sections that were cut due to the Church having outgrown early understanding. The ellipses will help the reader understand why the messages might not flow as smoothly as you would expect. Certain areas that somewhat changed in focus or importance were generally left in so the reader could at least partially appreciate the development of thinking. The enormity of what God’s Word says grew bigger and bigger, and the sermons contained material that was later seen to be incorrect.
For example, the following two all-important points were not seen at the time the series began. The areas that are ellipsed reflect no knowledge of the two points below, which leavened the Church’s understanding in ways that took a long time to “deleaven.” Eventually that happened, making the series explode with excitement and meaning in its later segments. The last segments, which of course will be released last, will likely not have any deleted material. Thus, they will appear to “flow” more smoothly. The reader must understand the complexity of removing what the two points below explain. Eventually, a new and true “simplicity in Christ” emerged that will change your life forever regarding events just over the horizon if you read every part. Here then are the biggest things that changed. Obviously, there were many other things within them that necessarily “moved” (a little or a lot) as well.
(1) The Kingdom of God initially comes as a “mustard seed” and “leaven” that is “hid,” with Christ reigning, away from Jerusalem, on David’s throne as He and some of the saints restore the Kingdom to Israel during the time of Jacob’s trouble, all before He relocates to Jerusalem to establish a world government from His own throne. (The series opens with an enormous focus on God converting the Jews.)
(2) Revelation 4 through Chapter 22, verse 6 describes punishment (destruction) and testing on all nations centuries after the Kingdom arrived, and just before Christ’s 1,000-year reign. This is an early parallel of what happens when Satan is “loosed” again after the 1,000 years for a “little season.” God tests who will remain loyal to Him and destroys all those who do not.
Note that these transcripts reflect the spoken word, without the subtle emphasis, pauses, gestures, facial expressions and other elements that seeing or hearing a speaker bring. So they do not read like the written word. Also, some sentences may have unusual structure but would be clearer on audio or video.
Finally, the reader will be greatly helped by seeing this visually represented through use of the Timeline (released November 3). Consider reading all 75-plus parts with this additional tool in front of you. Some of the material retained could be categorized as “toss up”—it could have been cut, but it can be properly understood if readers keep the timeline in front of them. Slowly, slowly, slowly—and then eventually at a point in the series very rapidly—everything will fall into place and make the whole picture of Bible prophecy literally EASY to understand.
Good afternoon everyone.
We had a huge week of statistics. The boom continues. Sometimes the boom has a capital “B” on it, such was this week. We went up by an equivalent of 26,000…or, over one and a third million items distributed, if you annualized it and never improved. We’re approaching 25 million plus the holiday booms of December and April. It is exciting to see that, on average, we are now hitting…not quite, but almost every day…what, exactly five months ago, we were hitting every week. That’s how big the YouTube numbers have grown to be. For reasons I’ll explain at another time, we’re going to go way beyond where we are, because of some of the content that I will be posting.
When you think of the Work booming, you think of events last night…the absolute horror of whatever the number was. I’ve heard 120 plus…140. For several hours, it kept saying 158, last night, were killed in seven locations, in a second incident, or series of incidents, in Paris. The entirety of Europe, and to some degree the whole world, is grappling with what to do about this religion…if we would call it that. However, all religions are false, so, I guess, if you put it in quotes, you’d have to put all religions in quotes, other than the true Church.
This terrible disaster has everyone rethinking just about everything. When seven attacks can happen simultaneously, including one at a stadium where, literally, the president of France could not leave the stadium because the real estate around him was under attack. It’s an astonishing thing. All you would have to do is put President Obama in a stadium, the Super Bowl or something…big soccer match, there in Paris…and then he could not come out of the stadium, along with many others who stayed there for hours, because there were attacks going on outside…and you can appreciate how Parisians and the French see events today.
Now, that said, I am quite certain I have never given, maybe never will…but I have never given a sermon and a Bible study that is as important as this one. I would say even no chance of one more important. This will be a game-changer in many regards. Two days ago, I filmed a broadcast on the subject of meditation, and it will be posted in about 12 more days. You will want to use every word of that broadcast to help you realize the full weight of what one and, probably, even two hearings or listenings to this sermon would give you. There is so much here, you cannot possibly understand it…normally, I would say…one time through; but this time, I’m going to say two times through. The implications are going to resonate, and echo through the Church until the things we talk about come to pass.
Thirty-three years ago, I got an idea for a sermon, and some of it was born from a discussion with Mr. Armstrong, but I can remember it was about 1982. I wrote down the title of a sermon I wanted to give, and I put it in my files. I think I actually wrote a couple different sermons at that point. We grabbed one. It never matured.
Now, most of you don’t know. I have a system different from all the other men I ever knew. It was just a system that worked for me. I wanted to have a tremendous amount of material ready to go whenever it was time to deliver a sermon, so I would often, and many, many times…most of my ministry, in fact… deliver sermons that I had conceived years before. I would wait until the sermon “ripened”…and sometimes, it could be as much as 20 or 30 years after the idea had come to me before I would give a sermon.
So I have files…actually, of hundreds of sermons…that Mr. Herzog keeps now of sermons I have never given, in various stages of development. As I would get more material, I would throw it into a folder. My folders, just…probably, “this big” [gestures with hands] of ideas I’ve never given, and “this big” of those I have, not counting the extraneous material that I carry up with me.
In about 1982, I think it was, I got the idea to give a sermon titled “Jerusalem ‒ Old and New.” I went into the file and pulled it out, and it’s obvious I never developed it. [laughter] Now, around the world…This is the sheet that I wrote it on…“Jerusalem - Old and New”…I got that far.
But I wanted the idea. I’ll often write down a sermon title. But…a sermon can be born on a Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, and then delivered on the Sabbath…or it can go back 30 years. I actually have ideas in my files that go back to when I was a student—almost 50 years. I’m 49 and a half years in God’s way, and I’d heard an idea mentioned, once upon a time…I didn’t want to be boring. I wanted my sermons to be interesting, and I learned quickly, when I worked on speeches longer, they were more interesting; less…not so much, and so that gave birth to a system……
The Bible can be reduced to a few summary statements or topics. It’s a book about government. This much I knew a third of a century ago, when I first began thinking about this subject…what I’m going to mention.
It’s about law. They are somewhat inseparable, but they are different.
It’s about God bringing salvation to the world through a man named Israel, who was the grandson of Abraham the father of the faithful. Put Isaac in the middle, and the patriarchs are very much at the center of the salvation process.
The Bible is also the story of a city called Jerusalem…much more than we might realize.
I’d like you to listen to three verses just from the book of Zechariah for a moment. I’m going to read them. You probably don’t need to turn over there, or you’ll be lost by the time you’re to the first one, I’ll be onto the second, and so forth. So I’m going to read them to you. You can write these down.
Zechariah 2 and we’re going to read 7 and 8: “Deliver yourself, O Zion, that dwell with the daughter of Babylon. For thus says the LORD of hosts; After the glory has he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that touches you touches the apple of his eye” (Zech. 2:7-8). Now, that was right after the verses that describe one measuring…a young man running through Jerusalem measuring the city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is the apple of God’s eye.
“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem” (12:2). What is it that makes Jerusalem a cup of trembling to all nations? Is there something intrinsically about this city where God could do that, but could not do it with Moscow, or Beijing, or London…or Washington, D.C., Tokyo, Mexico City…greater cities in size and geography?
Still in Zechariah, chapter 8 and verse 3: “Thus says the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.”
So in summary, here is a verse where God says this city is the apple of His eye. He will make it a cup of trembling to all nations round about it, but some day it will be called the City of Truth, and the Mountain of the Lord of hosts—the holy mountain—will be called after this name. It is, of course, where the Two Witnesses will spend three and a half years.
However, I would like to talk about Jerusalem before we narrow the subject a little bit. The first reference to Jerusalem…Now you can begin to turn…is in Joshua chapter 10 and verse 1. Let’s read it. The first chapters of Joshua speak about the destruction of Jericho…then Ai…by the time you get to chapter 8, and then 9, various kings come together…and then in chapter 10 and verse 1…
“…it came to pass, when Adonizedek king of Jerusalem had heard how Joshua had taken Ai, and had utterly destroyed it; as he had done to Jericho and her king, so he had done to Ai and her king; and how the inhabitants of Gibeon had made peace…That they feared greatly [and so forth]” (Josh. 10:1-2).
That’s the first time, in the Bible, you find the word “Jerusalem, but it really wasn’t Jerusalem at that point…Jerusalem was actually called by a different name. Turn to Joshua 18, and we’ll get a clarification. It had a couple of names. Verse 28, speaking of these different cities…
“And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath; [and] fourteen cities with their villages” (Jos. 18:28). It’s talking about breaking down all the cities of the land.
So, this was a city called “Jebusi.” In other places it was called “Jebus.” God has to tell us, after we’ve already read the word “Jerusalem”…now we come to the city called Jebusi…it is the one in the same. Okay, now we’re beginning to relate Jerusalem to another names…sometimes “Jebus.”
Now, let’s read in Judges 19 and verse 1: “And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite sojourning on the side of mount Ephraim, who took to him a concubine out of Bethlehemjudah” (Jdg. 19:1). Okay, that’s bad. You’ve got a priest with a concubine, living in a “shack up” arrangement.
Now the story of the book of Judges, of course, ends with a verse and, “every [one] did that which was right in [their] own eyes.” Chapter 21 verse 25 was the last verse of the book… “In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes.” Well, that’s just one example of one of the things that went on in Judges.
Verse 10: “But the man would not tarry that night, but he rose up and departed, and came over against Jebus, which is Jerusalem…
[So, I would liken it to Chicago, sometimes called Chi-Town. My dad grew up in Indianapolis, and he called it “Naptown” sometimes. That’s a little different than Indianapolis. “Chi-Town” is further away from the word “Chicago.” Jebus…Jebusi…it could be called both. I don’t know why, but it was.]
“…and there were with him two asses saddled, his concubine also was with him. And when they were by Jebus, the day was far spent; and the servant said unto his master, Come, I pray you, and let us turn in into this city of the Jebusites, and lodge in it…[Oh, okay, it’s called “Jebus” after the people that were there. That’s not something you and I would normally see. I tried to think of a single city that was named after its inhabitants. There are many cities that are named after men…Madison, Wisconsin; Lincoln, Nebraska. I think there’s a “Lincoln” in almost every single state. There is a “Springfield” in every single state…but I don’t know of any cities in America that are named after the people there, unless there’s some little burg somewhere. Here, Jerusalem was inhabited by the Jebusites, and they called it “Jebus” or “Jebusi.”]…And his master said to him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah” (19:10-12).
I Chronicles 11 and verse 4: “…David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, [it speaks of] which is Jebus…[So, sometimes it’ll speak of “Jebus, which is Jerusalem.” Here it speaks of]…David and all Israel went to Jerusalem, which is Jebus; where the Jebusites were, the inhabitants of the land.” So here’s a city named after the inhabitants.
Two names were synonymous for Jerusalem for a period. Now, what’s interesting is the word “Jebus” means a “threshing-place, yeb-oos, trodden.” You could say you’re from the city of Trodden, that is a threshing place. It’s a strange name. You look it up in the Hebrew…it just says “Jebus, the original name of Jerusalem,” but what it really means is a “threshing place.”
We might say, “Well, I’m going on vacation to Washington, D.C.,” or “I’m going to New York City.” Back then you might say where you going…“Well, we’re going to spend two weeks in Threshing Place.” Seems a little strange doesn’t it? Sometimes known as “Trodden”…but, that was the name of the city. Sometimes, they were named after the people. So the Jebusites were the “threshing-place people.” They were the people that trodded in this threshing place. Now, that’s a strange thing to think of. Of course, ultimately, the name changed. It’s important to understand this.
You’re going to find the fact that it was named “threshing-place” was inspired by God long ago. It will come to carry awesome implications. We can turn to Genesis 10 and verse 15. We are going to read a couple verses in Genesis. Let’s find out a little bit about the Jebusites. That might tell us a little more about Jebus that went on to be Jerusalem.
“And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth…[Canaan was a descendant of Ham. These are the black-skinned people of the world.]…and Heth, [verse 16] and the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, and the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, [and so forth. They were] the Hamathite [verse 18] and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad” (Gen. 10:15-18).
So, these were Canaanites. Canaanites descended from Ham. This will be very important later on…very interesting, later on, for reasons that…I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but Canaan was the father of the Jebusites, who had their capital city called “Jebus.”
Now, there’s no real record of the beginning of Jebus. We just saw the origin of the Jebusites…but when they actually settled in threshing floor, and decided to call themselves threshing floor, I don’t know. It’s kind of interesting. Here is a man who has a son, and he names his son “threshing-floor.” I can’t imagine that was a common name—like John, Bill, or Bob—back then. But it certainly was common to the guy who carried it his whole life, and eventually, became incredibly common all around the Middle East. Eventually, it commanded its own king, described as the king of Jerusalem—but he was really the king of Jebus. Could have said it either way, and God, in His wisdom, interchanges the words periodically…the names…so that we can get used to the idea that they are a “one in the same” city.
Chapter 14 and verse 17: “And the king of Sodom went out to meet him after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer…[Abraham]…and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the king’s dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God” (Genesis 14:17-18).
Now, if you’ve been in God’s Church for any length of time, you know that Melchizedek is Jesus Christ…and He’s called, here, the “King of Salem.” Not Jebus or Jerusalem, but the King of Salem. Salem means “peace.” This, of course, is Jesus Christ being introduced to us as the King of Salem. So when Jebus becomes Jeru-salem, we understand what happened. This was not a human being who was the king of Jebus. This is Melchizedek, not a Jebusite. This is Jesus Christ.
You’ve read in our literature about Melchizedek. You know who He was. He had neither beginning of days nor end of life, and all the different things in Hebrews that explain who Melchizedek was—a priest of the Most High God. That could never be a Jebusite. So, He certainly was not somebody from Jebus, or from Jerusalem. He was the King of Salem, and it gets us used to the idea that at some point God is going to rename this city, and there is going to be a certain logic to why He gives it the name Yeruwsalem, or as the Jews would say Yerushaláim, the City of Peace.
Now, before we look more at Salem, let’s read one other verse in Genesis chapter 33. This is interesting. Verse 18: “And Jacob came to Shalem, a city of Shechem, which is in the land of Canaan, [Hmm, Jebusites] when he came from Padanaram; and pitched his tent before the city. And he bought a parcel of a field, where he had spread his tent, at the hand of the children of Hamor, Shechem’s father, [These are Hammites.] for an hundred pieces of money. And he erected there an altar, [That’s interesting] and called it Elelohe-Israel” (Gen. 33:18-20). It means God, the God of Israel, and there’s an altar there at a city that is, here, called “Shalem.”
You’re starting to see things come together a little bit. So, the city also had a nickname, we might say, or another name, “Shalem.” God names things differently. Nineveh, in Scripture, referring to the future, is modern Berlin, and so forth.
Now, the Hebrew shâlêm means “peaceful.” If you look up the word “Salem,” it will say in the Hebrew, “peaceful; [or] Shalem, an early name of Jerusalem: – Salem.” Jews, today, say, “shalom”, “peace”…yet, this City of Peace has almost known nothing, but war…has almost never known peace, actually. In some regards, you will find…if I may put it this way…(we’ll come back, and I’ll explain this later on) this is a city that was under bad guys, then good guys, then bad guys, then good guys, then bad guys, then good guys, then bad guys, then good guys, then bad guys…and finally…one last time, good guys. It’s a city of war…constantly.
I can’t tell you when this city began. It’s a city that, much like Melchizedek, has no recorded beginning. We know that Cain went and built Jericho, for instance. Most cities of the world have a beginning. People know when they began. There’s no record of when the Jebusites decided to make a city named after themselves. Interestingly enough, like Melchizedek, when you consider New Jerusalem…It’s a city that will never come to an end. It has no known beginning…Of course, it did have a beginning, but in many ways, it’s like the very God who is the King of Salem—Jerusalem—no beginning and no end. One of the many descriptive statements God gives us so we know who Melchizedek was, that He was Jesus Christ.
How ironic that the only city of the world named after God and peace has known nothing but war. In Psalm 76 and verse 1 it said: “In Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion” (Psa. 76:1-2). Now, that’s interesting, because Salem—Jerusalem—by now we understand, is where God is going to dwell. He has dwelt there on two very extended occasions.
What’s interesting is a combination of Yeruw…Jerusalem (but the Jews would pronounce it Yeruwshaláyim) and “Salem” yields Yerusalem, Jerusalem’s early name. Yeruw…Where does that come from? Yeruw replaced “Jebu,” because Yeruw means foundation stone, or cornerstone. So the city of Jerusalem, therefore, could be thought of as having roots in a place called a threshing floor—but yeruw is not derived from Jebu. That’s something you want to understand. It has a separate meaning. It is the city today that should be thought of as “foundation,” or “cornerstone” of peace, and it’s a city that’s only known war. So, literally, it is the foundation of peace and it involves a stone.
Now in Exodus chapter 34, something interesting, God is talking to Moses. We’ll pick it up in verse 10: “And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels [God speaking], such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which you are shall see the work of the LORD: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with you. [Amazing, but “terrible” means “wonderful” sometimes in the Scripture—but it can mean “terrible” if you’re on the wrong side of the events. So that word is sometimes interchanged.]
“Observe you that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before you the Amorite, and the Canaanite…the Hittite…the Perizzite…the Hivite, and the Jebusite. [God was telling Moses, and therefore Israel, there would come a time “I’m going to give you, therefore, Jebus.”]
“Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you go, lest it be for a snare in the midst of you: But you shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves” (Ex. 34:10-13). Don’t play around with the people who are there. I’m going to give you these people, so you’re obviously going to get their city, and get rid of all traces of their religion; concluding with Jebusite or, obviously, Jebus, their capital city.
Now think of Jerusalem today for a moment. Just pause and roll it over in your mind…Somebody, somewhere, didn’t follow that instruction, and as a result, we have a mess that for thousands of years, it has been a city of war instead of a city of peace.
In Joshua chapter 15, you’ll see there that Joshua begins to lay out who is going to live where; where the tribes are going to be. In Joshua 15…Of course, God is working out, in prophecy, in the distant future in a fascinating way—but you wouldn’t know it here in Joshua yet. Verse 20…
“This is the inheritance of the tribe of the children of Judah…[And of course all the different tribes are laid out. You can look back through, and all the way through the book, and you’ll see where they live]…according to their families. And the uttermost cities of the tribe of the children of Judah toward the coast of Edom southward were Kabzeel, and Eder, and Jagur, and Kinah, and Dimonah, and Adadah” (Josh. 15:20-22).
And you come on down to verse 63, all the way down…A lot of cities there and…“As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day” (vs. 63). That’s an editor’s note; perhaps, written by Ezra or Elijah. They never quite got rid of them. They were supposed to.
You can count up the number of cities there. I don’t know how many there are. There’s a whole bunch—but they never quite got rid of the people in the most important city, and the groundwork is laid for trouble. Also, to Benjamin…Joshua 18 and verse 28. We can go back there. Let’s just read it again…
“And Zelah, Eleph, and Jebusi, [Joshua 18:28] which is Jerusalem, Gibeath, and Kirjath…[So the Benjaminites were given that area as well.]…This is the inheritance of the children of Benjamin [verse 28] according to their families.”
“David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months: and in Jerusalem he reigned thirty and three years over all Israel and Judah. [There has been a lot of trouble in Hebron where the tombs of the patriarchs are. Verse 6]…
“And the king and his men went to Jerusalem unto the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land: which spoke unto David, saying, Except you take away the blind and the lame, you shall not come in here: thinking, David cannot come in here. Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion: the same is the city of David. [Now that’s on the southern part of Jerusalem, right below Moriah.]
“And David said on that day, Whosoever gets up to the gutter…[I’ve been to this place.]…and smites the Jebusites, and the lame and the blind, that are hated of David’s soul, he shall be chief and captain. Wherefore they said, The blind and the lame shall not come into the house. So David dwelt in the fort, and called it the city of David. And David built round about from Millo and inward. And David went on, and grew great, and the LORD God of hosts was with him” (II Sam. 5:4-10).
So there, much more could be said. It’s pretty obvious I’m moving fast. Jump ahead. The prophets and others of God’s servants were in and out of Jerusalem for, basically, the next thousand years. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would have known the area, but from David forward, you would have to think of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Micah—all of the prophets—Zephaniah, Nahum, Obadiah.
I’m going to take you, in a coming Bible study, into Nahum and Obadiah, and open your mind to those short books, as we’ve been doing with books like Habakkuk, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, and so forth. I’ve given a sermon on Jonah. I’m going to open your thinking. All of those men would have been in and around Jerusalem. But we have to leap forward for a moment. We’re going to do about a thousand years…
Obviously, when Jesus Christ came to Earth, He had to come somewhere, and minister somewhere. So it was pretty obvious that He traveled to Jerusalem, and ministered all around Jerusalem…grew up, north, in the Galilee area.…Where was the God of Heaven and Earth going to die? Well, there was only one city. There’s not a list that God had in His mind. The One who would, ultimately, be the King over all of the universe—out of Jerusalem—chose Jerusalem. Perhaps, chosen by the Father as the place where He would be crucified by the chief priests and scribes and elders…and of course, Judas participating. This is bigger than the death of Jesus Christ.
In Matthew chapter 27. You might want to turn over there. We’ll read this together. Verse 50: “Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice… [He’s now on the stake, of course.]… yielded up the [the spirit, not the ghost]. And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in two from the top to the bottom… [Now, that’s an extraordinary thing. It’s going to create complications later on that we’ll address in the sermon.]…and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. [Does it make you think of Elijah? Rocks rent? You can understand that a veil rends. I could tear a paper up here…but rocks were torn. This was not a small earthquake and perhaps, it played a role.]
“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, [They were going to go on to be saints.] And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, [The Holy City or the Holy Mountain; but we’re going to find out there’s a mountain within the mountain]…and appeared unto many” (Matt. 27:50-53).
Of course Christ was buried there. I’ve been to His tomb…what is universally considered to be His tomb. I have studied it for decades, and have no reason to think it wasn’t. He was resurrected there, and He ascended to heaven from there. Forgive me for putting it this way…as though there were any other choice in God’s mind.
Jerusalem was where the disciples were to wait for the Holy Spirit. Acts 1 and verse 4: “And, being assembled together with them, commanded them…[this was Christ speaking]…that they should not depart from Jerusalem…[So Christ says, “I’m going to build My Church. Now, I wonder what city in the world I should use to build My Church. I’m going to give My Spirit, for the first time, to large numbers of people. Where would be a good location?” Well, there’s no decision. It’s a no brainer, if you will. The mind of God, of course, would have thought about it. I say it’s a no brainer…It was obvious where God would pick.]…but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said he, you have heard of me” (Acts 1:4).
And then in verse 9: “he was taken up; and…received him out of their sight.” He was resurrected there.
Ten days later they saw the Holy Spirit come. Enormous power, the first time the gift of tongues was given; cloven tongues of fire and tremendous noise—not wind—but sounded like wind, and, of course, miracles came to the Church ever after. The first-century Church—no surprise—was headquartered in Jerusalem.
In Galatians 1 and verse 18: “Then after three years I [Paul] went up to Jerusalem…[that’s interesting, went “up” to Jerusalem]…to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days [a little over two weeks].”
It was always they went “up” to Jerusalem, went “up” to the Temple. When we were driving into Jerusalem in 2011, and in 1988, I remember you go “up” to Jerusalem. If Denver is the Mile-High City, Jerusalem is the Half-Mile-High City. A half-mile…as close to the coast as it is…there is a real sense that you are going “up” to Jerusalem, because it’s a fairly steep climb.
I’ve driven from Kansas City to Denver, and the tallest thing between those…just about…is a prairie dog standing with his shoulders back—[laughter] standing upright. It’s flat, and you don’t have any sense that you are climbing, because it’s about 600 miles. It’s just flat. It rolls a little bit, but you don’t have any sense that you’re climbing. When you go to Jerusalem, there is a real sense that you are going “up” to Jerusalem.
Normally we would say go over somewhere. Now, I guess we might say, if you’re in the south, I’m going to go up to Ohio. If you’re in Ohio you say, I’m going to go down south—but you’re talking directionally not in terms of altitude. In this case “up” meant altitude, and that appears all through the New Testament.
Now since that time in A.D. 70, Jerusalem was destroyed, and a second Temple was destroyed. It was rebuilt as a Roman city and renamed Aelia Capitolina, and that was its name until the Crusades, and that was A.D. 135.
The Muslims conquered it in 638. It became Al-Quds which means “The Holy.” So even though it’s the wrong name of the city, they name it The Holy. But they did that, because of activities by Muhammad there; not because they believe in the God of Abraham…Even though they claim, of course, they know they are descended from Ishmael, who was a son of Abraham.
In 1517, the Ottoman Empire captured Jerusalem, and held it exactly 400 years. The Crusades took place there. Saladin, I should just say, captured Jerusalem in 1187, and it went back and forth between the Arabs, and so forth, and then eventually, the Ottomans captured it in 1517. The British conquered it in 1917. So, the Ottoman period—the Turks—were there for exactly 400 years. If you go to Jerusalem, you’ll see the Ottoman wall.
Then, 50 years later, is the Six-Day War, and the Jews retook Jerusalem. They captured the Mount, but Moshe Dayan told everyone (when he got this famous call), “We have taken the Mount.” Now, that’s not Jerusalem. They took the Temple Mount, and they’ve never given it back since, although, the Jordanians have sovereignty over what the Muslims, as you know, would call the Noble Sanctuary.
The Jews call it the Temple Mount. Temple Mount means the “Temple Mountain.” There is a mountain there. It’s not like Mount Everest. When we call it Mount Everest, we’re really saying “Mountain” Everest; or “Mountain” McKinley…or the tallest mountain in the continental United States, “Mountain” Whitney in California. We just say “mount.” So, when you’re talking about the Temple Mount you’re talking about the Temple Mountain or Mount Moriah above the city of David, close by.
So, the Jews were kicked out of Jerusalem, and it began what’s called the “Diaspora,” or the “Dispersion.” God had foretold, in Genesis 49, that Jews would be scattered all over the world. When the prophecy was laid out of what would happen to them in the latter days and all through the millennia before this, the Jews were to be scattered. So, the Jews were scattered from the time the Romans banished them, till they came back under the British as a protectorate, from 1917 until the War of Independence in 1948, a little bit before I was born.
The story of the Exodus, I remember reading the book by Leon Uris, a fascinating story, and then the miracles that have kept Israel in charge of that land since. However, they were at war with the Egyptians (1956); of course, the War of Independence was’ 48 and the Egyptians 1956; then the Six-Day War in June…I’d been studying the truth for about a year. I remember being fascinated by this war, and the change of hands. A lot of land changed then—the Golan and the West Bank and Jerusalem fell into Israeli hands.
And you hear those who want two states say, “We have to withdraw to the’ 67 borders.” Now, the sky will fall long…long before the Jews will withdraw to the’ 67 borders, because what that would be is a withdrawal out of existence. There’s no possible way they could hold on. As a matter of fact, this last Monday, when Benjamin Netanyahu met with President Obama, he quietly slipped into the middle of a discussion, “We’d like to declare sovereignty—permanent sovereignty—over the Golan. ISIS is right down below us.” Of course, there are the Free Syrian Rebels and every other group, and chaos in Syria that has seen a quarter-million people killed over the last four-plus years. The Israelis are never going to give it up.
Obama did not answer in the meeting, and Netanyahu just sort of kept talking. The next day the State Department came out and announced that the United States will never allow Israel to have sovereignty over the Golan, and they cited certain reasons. It would send the wrong message to the Syrian rebels that they’re supporting, and so forth. The truth is, the world is not happy with what Israel has done…and Israel has no choice. There are facts on the ground in Israel that continue to drive events. I’ve been covering them in my news commentaries…but I’ll come back to that later.
Israel has continued all through the wars…’73, the Yom Kippur war;’ 82 in Lebanon; two intifadas, the late 80s; then from 2000 to 2005. They’re battle hardened. They’re a people who say, “Never again.” Doesn’t make any difference to them…Makes no difference to the Jews…If people tell them that they ought to pull the settlements back, or give back certain land, they’re not going to do it. What is going to happen there is more profound than anything we have ever realized. We will come back to that.
Early in Zechariah, as I mentioned, chapter 2 and verse 2: “Then said I, Whither go you? [This is Zechariah.] And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.”
Sometime, I would love to give a series of Bible studies on the greater messages of the rest of Zechariah. We focused a lot on chapters 3 and 11, and we hear regularly about chapter 14. Although I cited a little bit from chapter 8, chapter 2 and chapter 12 to open the sermon, there’s a lot more in that book about our responsibility before time is over. Well, still talking about Jerusalem, Luke 21 and verse 20 says, Christ speaking…
“When you shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh” (Luke 21:20). You might have wondered which is going to happen first…
…We’re waiting to see it be surrounded by armies…or, the armies first, and then the abomination of desolation is set up. Well, there’s your answer. That’s a city…where Jerusalem will first be surrounded by armies, and then the desolation, the abomination set up. That would make sense……
It is Jerusalem that will be compassed with armies, and the abomination will be set up in Jerusalem. God plans to gather people from all nations—the armies of the world—and destroy them at Jerusalem…
Obviously, Zechariah 14:4, Christ returns, not to Baghdad or New Delhi, of course, He comes back to Jerusalem, but not where the City of David was, and not the Temple Mount. He comes to “the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east.” He comes to Jerusalem, but not the Temple Mount. He comes over there later. We will just leave it at that…
“But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.” If I had more time, I’d read the context about Hagar there, and so forth…but Jerusalem in heaven. There is another Jerusalem and that’s our mother. The Church is our mother. Well, our mother has a name, and it’s Jerusalem or Zion.
Turn to Hebrews chapter 12. When we pray…I’ve mentioned this in a recent sermon. Every time we pray, brethren…and by now your prayers, I hope, will never be the same. That’s not the focus of my sermon, but I hope, in a way, you receive it as such. When you come before the ultimate Jerusalem…you’re coming before God, of course, but the ultimate Jerusalem is there. You will see Jerusalem a little differently.
Verse 22: “But you are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem… [So, there is an earthly and a heavenly Jerusalem. There is an earthly and a heavenly Mount Zion.]…and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:22-23).
So…All of you have been to Jerusalem. I’ve been to the one on Earth a couple times, but all of you have been to the more important Jerusalem. I’ve been there, too. It depends on how long you’ve been in the Church as to how many times you’ve been to Jerusalem…and that’s worth thinking about. God chose to create another city, and call it after the one on Earth.
“Him that overcomes will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name” (Rev. 3:12).
Revelation 21 gives a little fuller description: “And he carried me away in the spirit…[verse 10]…he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God…[But yet, we read earlier that the city on Earth is also a holy city. Now this is looking ahead when the new heavens, and the new Earth]…Having the glory of God: and her light was like unto a stone most precious, even like a jasper stone, clear as crystal; And had a wall great and high, and…twelve gates, and…twelve angels, and names written there, [and]…the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:
“On the east three gates…the north three gates…the south three gates; and…the west three gates. And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. And he that talked with me had a golden reed to measure the city, and the gates thereof, and the wall thereof. And the city lies foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal…[1,500 miles square. I believe that is the number.]…And he measured the wall thereof, an hundred and forty and four cubits, according to the measure of a man, that is, of the angel” (Rev. 21:10-17).
That’s a powerful statement. It’s not my purpose to get into the New Heavens, the New Earth, New Jerusalem, and so forth, but I wanted you to see there’s even a New Jerusalem that’s coming from heaven. There will be a New Jerusalem on Earth, that will get fixed as well.
“Thus says the LORD of hosts…[It’s right after the verse that talks about city of truth.]… There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age…[You don’t have to worry about suicide bombers, stabbers, or ramming, of people with hand grenades, and machine guns, knives, and screwdrivers, and so forth.]…And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof” (Zech. 8:4-5). I’ve thought of that as I’ve driven the many streets of Jerusalem.
In Revelation 22 and verse 3: “And there shall be no more curse…[when New Jerusalem comes]…but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it…[Just let me read it to you.]…and his servants shall serve him…they shall see his face; and his name shall be in their foreheads. And there shall be no night there…[this new city]…they need no candle, neither light of the sun; for the Lord God gives them light: and they shall reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 22:3-5).
Jerusalem is unlike any other city—ever. Some are bigger. Certainly, looking at it today, some are more beautiful. Some were founded earlier…but like Jericho don’t exist anymore. Jerusalem is already, almost certainly, the longest existing city on earth. If there are others older, I know not what they are. I’ve never been able to discover one. As I’ve said, it is so old, in a way it’s like Christ, who has no beginning of days nor end of days. Revelation 22 and verse 13…You know, the very end of the Bible…Christ said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
So, this absolutely unique city, spanning Jebus, with unknown origins, all the way to the eternal New Jerusalem, should have every Christian’s focus.
This is not really, primarily, a two-part sermon about Jerusalem, but what I’m going to tell you couldn’t possibly be understood, as we go forward and the sermon gets even more exciting…I think…maybe by far. I’m going to tell you some things that are so awesome, you’ll have to hear them multiple times. You would not be able to put it in proportion and frame it correctly, if you didn’t first understand the big picture about this city that is the apple of God’s eye, that becomes a cup of trembling, before it becomes a city of truth, and finally the Holy Mountain.
What makes Jerusalem so special to God? Well, there are many people that God knew and loved, and worked with, who had lived there. I could make the case. There are many, many reasons. David lived there. He was a man after God’s own heart. Many of the apostles were there. It’s kind of like a friendship…if Jerusalem were a person. Friendship grows with events that take place between the one person and the other person.
Of course, Jerusalem is not a person, it is a city, but God has been through so many things with it. So many of the people who were very special to Him over the last 6,000 years, beginning, basically, about 3,500 years ago, when Joshua took it…have been very special to God, and of course God came to that city, no doubt, more than once.
Maybe Christ called Himself the King of Salem, because He was speaking of “those things that shall be as though they are.” He certainly wasn’t a Jebusite king, a stranger; however, but He called Himself the King of Salem long before…long, long before…many centuries before Joshua took that city.
So, God has had in mind…This much you can know…that Christ was going to rule that city, and was the king of that city for many centuries before it was ever under Israelite control. I would suggest to you—because of a particular threshing floor that is there—guided a gentile people to name it, and even had a man whose name was “Threshing Floor” go there, and establish the city of “Threshing Floor.” Because that threshing floor will come to be seen as the most complex piece of real estate the world has ever seen.
When did God begin to conceive of this city? I would suggest before Adam and Eve, but I can’t prove it. However, God doesn’t do things on the fly. Let’s go to II Samuel chapter 24, and let’s read a fascinating story, learn a series of lessons. We’re going to read the whole chapter. David committed a sin that led to tremendous problems…but a fascinating series of verses comes from this sin.
Sometime, I’m going to give a sermon titled, “The mysteries of God.” There are a whole bunch of biblical mysteries of God. We’re going to read one of the greatest mysteries of God in this chapter…about one of the greatest that you can possibly imagine…but I don’t want to tell you what it is…and it is a mystery…but I will, at least, identify the mystery, and it will remain a mystery after we’ve read the chapter…
“And again the anger of the LORD was kindled [verse 1] against Israel, and he [look in the margin—“Satan”] moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah. [God wouldn’t move David to go commit a sin. This is Satan, but it is written in such a way that you have to look in the margin. I don’t know why they just don’t say “Satan.”]
“For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number you the people, that I may know the number of the people. And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why does my lord the king delight in this thing? [“You don’t need to know how big your armies are. You sound like Patton, or Eisenhower, or Rommel. We trust in God. We don’t care about the size of our army.”]
“Notwithstanding the king’s word prevailed against Joab…[Joab is kind of the chairman of the joint chiefs. He’s told, “I want to know how many people we have under arms.”]…and against the captains of the host…[Who also tried to stop him.]…And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel. And they passed over Jordan” (II Sam. 24:1-5).
And so here go the census takers, and they came to these various places. They go to Tyre, and all the way down to Judea, and (the end of verse 7) Beersheba.
“So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. [Boy, that put a lot of people out.] And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men” (vs. 8-9).
Now, that is interesting. Almost 40 percent of all 12 tribes were the Jews. The Jews are very, very tough people. That’s why Caleb, alongside Joshua…Joshua was an early Brit. Okay? He was an Ephraimite, but Caleb was a Jew. They came back, and they’d seen these giants, and said, “We’ll eat them for breakfast.” That’s why 6 million people are willing to go up against 1.6 billion Arabs and never flinch; and why with nothing they win in’ 48, and’ 56, and’ 67, and’ 73, and’ 82, and both intifadas, and then the war last summer against Hamas in Gaza. You know their story. They’re an indefatigable people, and 70 years out from a holocaust where half the Jews of Europe were killed—6 million Jews were killed—their motto is “Never again.” They will never again trust the Western world to protect them.
The West didn’t even bomb the camps that could have saved certain Jews. I’ve read all the stories about Roosevelt’s rationale for why he didn’t do it…what the world would have thought, and so on, and so forth. Never did. However, the Jews have watched history. They know the pogroms in Europe. They know how they are treated in many parts of the world.
Now the Jews are, like all people of the world a sin-laden people, but they’re very, very tough. I’ve studied the Jewish wars. There’s a reason there’s half a million of them, and 800,000 of everybody else—so, you have a standing army of 1.3 million. The United States Army today, by comparison, is about 450,000. Now, the Marines are another 180, and the Navy, and so forth. The greatest military the world has ever seen or thought about, the United States, has half as many. How many million people were they drawing from, of which almost forty percent were Jews?
There are not 500,000 Jewish soldiers today, but they do allegedly have 400 nuclear warheads. They have the most sophisticated weaponry and technology on Earth, by far. As Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week, “There are three things that the world wants from us…And he spoke of Latin America and Africa and Asia, and he wasn’t so sure whether Europe and America wants what Israel has. There have been a lot more discussions about trade…but he said, “There are three things that the world wants that Israel has: Israeli technology, Israeli technology, and Israeli technology.” Those were his words this week. The ultimate Silicon Valley is in Israel.
There’s a reason 6 million people…14 million, if you count worldwide…Four out of seven Jews around the world are not in Israel; three out of every seven are. There’s a reason the three, with help from wealthy, powerful, connected, brilliant Jews in other parts of the world, can hold off 1.6 billion Arabs, and why they win war after war when they’re outnumbered about like Gideon when he took off across that field with 300 men.
They’re just the toughest people you’ll ever meet, and they know it. They know they’re brilliant. They know they’re innovative. They see their wealth. They understand their military prowess, and God has to deal with them—and that’s part of what Bands is about…But, that’s again, a different subject. Let’s keep reading…
Verse 10: “David’s heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech you, O LORD, take away the iniquity of your servant; for I have done very foolishly. For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David’s seer, saying, Go and say unto David, Thus says the LORD, I offer you three things; choose you one of them, that I may do it unto you.
“So Gad came to David, and told him, and said to him, Shall seven years of famine come unto you in your land? or will you flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue you? or [do] there be three days’ pestilence in [the] land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me…[God]…David said unto Gad, [Who would report to God.] I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man” (24:10-14).
Now, David’s reasoning was good. I would submit to you, God guided him to pick that choice, or He would have, if David maybe hadn’t done it himself. Because what it led to was the greatest real estate deal the world has ever seen, and some extraordinary lessons that wouldn’t have happened, if David had picked either of the other two.
“So the LORD sent a pestilence [on] Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men. [Wow. The army wasn’t as big…] And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it…[One angel did this…By the way, we ought to remember the power of one angel. We’re made a little lower than the angels.
How much power will we have in the kingdom of God? That’s one thing that comes out of this. One angel had the ability to do this. We should never worry, brethren, about the power of angels protecting God’s people in His Church. It’s not a good thing to be on the wrong side of angels, but it’s an awesome thing to be on the right side—if you’re serving God. Well, here’s the wrong side.]
“…the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite” (vs. 15-16). The Jebusites were still there. Now, they really shouldn’t have been there, but they were. We read the verses. They shouldn’t have been there.
“And David [said to] the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? Let your hand, I pray you, be against me, and against my father’s house…[But that was not God’s purpose. David would have never forgotten this for the rest of his life.]…And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite” (vs. 17-18).
Now what if David had picked one of the other two? God wanted an altar at this location. If David said, “Let my enemies chase me. This is on me.” The way he might have thought afterwards when he saw what happened… Or famine for seven years? Maybe more would have died, and he wouldn’t have known…then he would have chosen what would have been a bigger number. But he chose the thing that ended at Araunah’s threshingfloor.
Now, do you think it was an accident—in light of what we know Araunah’s threshingfloor is—that is the site of the Dome of the Rock today? I’ve been there. I’ve been all around it. I’ve been closer to it than the people in the first row. It was no accident it stopped there—but it started with a choice. Now, would God have, in some other way, ended the other two choices at Araunah’s threshingfloor? Well, if it had gone that way, I’ll guarantee He would have. However, I don’t know. It’s one of the mysteries of God. It’s just a mystery.
“And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded. And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground” (vs. 19-20). Now, that’s tremendous respect.
You’re going to find out Araunah is a king. So, extraordinary…You’ve got a white king, a man of great power and prowess, comes to meet a black king. There’s a series of lessons here. It’s not the focus of my message, but there he is. Very respectful one to another. Watch the exchange.
“And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of you, to build an altar to the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people” (vs. 21).
It would have been very humbling for David, as a king, to be standing in front of another king. Now, David had a huge army. He could have said, “I’ll be taking your threshing floor now. God told me to build an altar”…but listen to the exchange. He had respect to this other man.
“And Araunah said to David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seems good [to you] behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice…[I’m sure he saw the plague. Maybe he saw the angel. I don’t know. If they stopped right in his front yard…that would get his attention, I would submit to you.]…and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. [Take whatever you need.]
“All these things did Araunah…[It says “as a king;” “as” is italics.]…did Araunah a king give unto the king…
[So you have a king speaking to a king…two men of character and reputation of generosity, working out…from totally different races. Maybe there was a purpose…God could use the purpose that Araunah and the Jebusites were still there to cut this real estate deal, the likes of which Donald Trump never thought about.]
“…And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD…accept you. And the king said unto Araunah, No; but I will surely buy it of you at a price…[Incredibly generous offer. He’s giving him the rock for which the city had been named for how many centuries; including the original founder, who carried the name, “the Jebusite.”…“I’ll give it to you.”]
“… No; but I will surely buy it of you at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which does cost me nothing…[The ultimate in wonderful race relations. God’s people are all different races. Could have been a yellow man talking to a brown man, or a red man talking to a white or a black man, or whatever number of races we want to count, three or five. Some would say there are three races; some would say there are five. There were three that got off the boat, but people come in every shade you can imagine. But anyway]…
“…So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver…[And, of course, II Chronicles 3 and verse 1 says that’s the site of the Temple.]…And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was entreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel” (II Sam. 24:22-25).
That’s the end of Samuel and then the next book begins…David is old and having trouble staying warm and they bring him this hot water bottle named Abishag to keep him warm, and it leads on to Solomon, then of course, built a Temple. So let’s talk about this. It didn’t just stay an altar on a rock. Turn to II Chronicles chapter 2. I Kings describes building this extraordinary house of God, but Chronicles recounts it. That’s why, brethren, when you read things in Samuel and Kings you ought to often go read an additional account in Chronicles. The books are shorter, but they add things.
It’s kind of like if you read an account in Matthew…It’s good to look at Mark and Luke, sometimes John. You’ll see different things that you can put together, and sometimes, even things that happen in these books, you will find in Jeremiah or Isaiah, or some other place. But here…We could read either one, but here it’s better to read II Chronicles, chapter 2…Verse 4, Solomon’s talking to Hiram of Tyre…Huram, sometimes written that way…
“Behold, I build a house to the name of the LORD my God, to dedicate it to him, and to burn before him sweet incense, and for the continual showbread, and for the burnt offerings morning and evening…[that’s going to be bigger as we move on]…on the Sabbaths, and on the new moons, and on the solemn feasts of the LORD our God. This is an ordinance for ever to Israel…[The morning and evening sacrifices. Now we’ll come back to that]. And the house which I build is great: for great is our God above all gods…[And then you come down. He wants these cedar trees, in verse 8, algum trees out of Lebanon. We know the story of the cedar trees from Lebanon used in both temples. In verse 9]…Even to prepare me timber in abundance: for the house which I am about to build shall be wonderful great” (II Chron. 2:4-5, 9).
Now back in Kings…even here, I believe 153,600 people were involved in building this awesome temple. You know the story. Brethren, for me to cover all the material I have to cover, I have to just summarize in certain places. All of you know it was in David’s heart to build a temple, but God told him, “You’ve been too bloody. I can’t let you build the temple.” So David amassed a tremendous fortune of things that needed to be done, and Solomon was going to actually build the Temple. So it’s been called Solomon’s Temple, but it just as easily could have been called David’s Temple. The truth is, it’s not relevant, because they built God’s Temple. It was a Temple of God that is often called Solomon’s Temple to differentiate it from Zerubbabel’s Temple, which was also God’s Temple, or the renovated Temple of Herod…the same applies. That’s important, but in Chapter 3 and verse 1…
“Then Solomon began to build”…He’s got 80,000 people to cut wood up in Lebanon. It’s an amazing number of people. Just astounding! Seventy thousand who bore burdens, and 3,600 supervisors. This was a wonderful, great house. Took seven years to build…Zerubbabel’s house took four years to build; the auditorium that Mr. Armstrong called the “house for God” in Pasadena took two years to build…to give you sort of a comparison. We’ll pick it up in chapter 3 verse 1…
“Then Solomon began to build the house of the LORD at Jerusalem in mount Moriah, where the LORD appeared unto David his father, in the place that David had prepared…[this altar]…in the threshingfloor of Ornan…” (II Chron. 3:1). Araunah…The Bible is funny. It uses different names. Ornan is sometimes Araunah. Well “Jebus” can be “Jabesh”—it can be “Shalem,” “Salem” or “Jerusalem.”
I’m not going to tell you all the nicknames I had growing up…and you shouldn’t tell me all the ones you had. But there’re lots of different names. But this is Ornan the Jebusite. So it’s clear where the Temple was. Now, by the way, I’ve been to this place. This is not a small rock. It’s a small rock in the Dome of the Rock, but it is a huge rock. It was a dominant rock. Not because it had a shear face like El Capitan, 3,000 feet straight up, in Yosemite Valley, but it was a big, smooth, round rock that was great for threshing—it was flat. It wasn’t tall. It was maybe tall…in the way the Mount of Olives and the City of David were tall, but a little taller, a little bigger. The Mount of Olives, actually, is a little higher. However, it was a big rock and a lot of it is underneath a giant Temple Mount that’s thirty-seven acres now.
Thirty-seven acres…for those of us at Headquarters…you can appreciate thirty-seven acres. Here’s thirty-seven acres—the entire lower campus out to the light and the upper field, we now call the terrace, where the pavilion and the lakes and the new gazebo are toward the interstate, through the trees—that’s thirty-seven acres. The overall campus is 97 acres.
So, the area that is today’s Temple Mount, as Herod constructed it for a period of 46 years…Now that’s a long time to build a temple, but it’s because he wanted to clear everything away, do something grand. Herod never did anything that wasn’t big, and so he made this enormous Temple Mount that’s thirty-seven acres. Huge walls around it of stones—certain stones weighed as much as 80,000 pounds—and he didn’t have any modern equipment…cranes like we do today. So, under that is this giant rock that is visible at the Dome of the Rock…right there…which is, of course, right in the middle of the Temple Mount. We’ll come later to a little more of why the Dome of the Rock is so important to Muslims.
I Kings 6 and verse 38, “And in the eleventh year, in the month Bul, which is the eighth month, was the house finished throughout all the parts thereof, and according to all the fashion of it. So was he seven years in building it.”
He was a great builder. If you read after that into chapter 7, you’ll find he spent thirteen years on his own home; then the next verse he built a winter home in Lebanon. Then he built a home for his Egyptian wife, the daughter of Pharaoh; and then, I think, some other homes. So he was a huge builder. The size of his homes was incredible. He was seven years in building the house of God and that’s the longest of the houses of God, if you don’t count the whole long period that Herod laid the foundation of the renovated Temple.
Now, you can say there have been two temples…You can say there have been three. The Jews say two, because God directed that two temples should be built—Solomon’s and Zerubbabel’s. But Herod’s Temple is often referred to as the renovated temple. He destroyed Zerubbabel’s Temple, with the agreement of the Jews—the local leaders who guided him—and built something other than what God wanted. All of them have been destroyed. It was Herod’s renovated Temple that the Jews consider to be a continuation of the second or Zerubbabel’s Temple that was destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.
You would say there were three temples, if you look at them just counting, but there were really only two. The Jews didn’t want to count theirs as their own. They wanted it to be God’s Temple, and of course, Christ went up to the Temple. That Temple was used by God. So, I can understand how it’s viewed as a second Temple. That’s kind of an aside, but it’s important to understand a little bit about timing, because…You will see, in a moment, a reason.
We might ask a question. You saw that God wanted morning and evening sacrifices to occur forever. We might ask, where did God ever say He wanted His temples destroyed, never to be rebuilt? It’s been gone now for…What is it…1,945 years, but that was not God’s will. When Nebuchadnezzar destroyed Solomon’s Temple, God wanted it rebuilt. The assumption might be, “Well, when the Roman’s destroyed it—the second temple—God didn’t want it rebuilt.” However, there’s no place that says that in the Bible. Yet it’s been a great question. Is there going to be another Temple?
I just need you to think for a moment, brethren. Where? And the answer is…Nowhere did God ever say He wanted His Temple destroyed, never to be rebuilt. Two temples, three counting Herod’s, were destroyed. Because God allowed them to be destroyed, didn’t mean He didn’t want a Temple on Earth! You’ve got to come to grips with that…but we need to find some verses that suggest it, and then maybe go beyond that and prove it. Now, if there’s another Temple built…God is not in the “adopt a temple” business…we talked about would there ever be another Jewish Temple…Well, it wouldn’t be a Jewish Temple…or it might…We might have to wrestle with that one as we go forward. Would it be a Temple of God or a Jewish Temple? Jews are talking about a Temple…We’ll come to that more.
Now, I know we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. I understand what the Temple of God is. We’re called the House of God and the Temple of God. The ancient temples were both called the House of God and the Temple of God. I understand all of that. Well, turn to Exodus chapter 29, and some incredibly important things begin to emerge. It has a lot to do with the daily sacrifice God established through Moses.
“Now this is that which you shall offer upon the altar… [Moses built an altar. We can understand what the altar was like at Ornan’s threshingfloor]…two lambs of the first year day by day continually. The one lamb you shall offer in the morning…the other [in the evening]” (Ex. 29:38-39).
Now that’s a statement where God wants…He wanted morning and evening sacrifices every day, throughout the generations of Israel. Well, if there still are Israelites on Earth today, presumably, there should still be daily sacrifices. We might just want to come to grips with that. And, by the way…we read in Chronicles, the morning and evening sacrifices were to last forever…a continual burnt offering.
Now go to Numbers, chapter 28 and verse 3: “And you shall say to them, This is the offering made by fire which you shall offer unto the LORD; two lambs of the first year without spot day by day, for a continual burnt offering. The one lamb…in the morning…the…other [in the evening].
[And then a certain amount of flour and oil. Verse 6]…It’s a continual burnt offering, which was ordained in mount Sinai for a sweet savor…[Whether it’s in front of a tabernacle or a Temple, later, God wanted it to never stop. Verse 7]…And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of a hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shall you cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering” (Num. 28:3-4, 6-7).
All right, I’m just going to read to you a few verses about the way God viewed the altar and the morning and evening sacrifices. Write this down and look at it later. Just listen to me, or you’ll miss it trying to turn there.
Leviticus 6 in verse 12 and 13…“And the fire upon the altar shall be burning in it; it shall not be put out: and the priest shall burn wood on it every morning, and lay the burnt offering in order upon it; and he shall burn thereon the fat of the peace offerings. The fire shall…be burning upon the altar; it shall never go out.”
I Chronicles 16:40…“To offer burnt offering unto the LORD upon the altar of the burnt offering continually morning and evening…[sacrifices, the two lambs]…according to all that is written in the law of the LORD, which he commanded Israel.”
II Chronicles 13 verse 11…“And they burn unto the LORD every morning and every evening burnt sacrifices and sweet incense…[Let me stop…We all know that the daily sacrifices are going to be restarted somewhere, because they’re going to be stopped……
That’s what God wanted at His Temple. So here we are…we’ve now briefly introduced there’s going to be offerings again. Are those under the auspices of the Jews or God? Is it out of the Temple of the Jews or a Temple of God? We’ve read that this is called the Holy Place. You’re probably already thinking ahead. Christ said when you see the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place, He, probably, is the same God inspiring both passages, had the same place in mind. You’ll find that He did. Not on the Holy site, but in the Holy Place. But continuing in II Chronicles…
“…burnt sacrifices and sweet incense: the showbread also set they in order upon the pure table; and the candlestick of gold with the lamps thereof, to burn every evening; for we keep the charge of the LORD our God; but you have forsaken him” (II Chron.13:11).
In Hezekiah’s time, chapter 31 and verse 3…“He appointed also the king’s portion of his substance for the burnt offerings, to wit, for the morning and evening burnt offerings, and the burnt offerings for the Sabbaths, and for the new moons, and for the set feasts, as it is written in the law of the LORD” We read that earlier in Chronicles. That was to be forever—all of those.
“And they set the altar upon his bases…[They were supposed to start building the second Temple. Cyrus had let 50,000 Jews, nearly, go back to Jerusalem to build a second Temple. God so wanted a second Temple, He inspired a gentile king to send them. We told that story many times.]… for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries; and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening” In the second temple, and they continued going all the way until A.D. 70.
That temple was started in about 536, and those burnt offerings—the morning and evening sacrifices—lasted all the way to A.D. 70, when the Romans sacked the temple. So how long was that? A long time…a little over 600 years. Twice a day, every day through the entire year. God wanted it, and He wanted them to be forever. Brethren, we’ve got to come to grips with some things here…and believe me, I’m just warming up. You have to come to grips with some things. God wants the daily sacrifices.
Zechariah, chapter 14, let’s just remove all doubt that these are a thing of God, not something that was to be done away in the Old Testament. Now, you know that God is going to gather all nations to Jerusalem, verse 2; verse 4, His feet stand on the Mount of Olives when He returns there. Couple hundred yards…I’ve stood right on the Mount of Olives, more than once, and looked right over at the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque…and understood, wow, look at that, it’s a little below us. You can appreciate it’s an amazing view…
He stands there, and then the valley cleaves and a lot of description. I’ve read it so many times. Living water, verse 8, goes out of Jerusalem. Half to the Dead Sea and half to the Mediterranean Sea and they begin to heal the world and so forth.
Verse 16, “… it…come[s] to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall…go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts,…to keep the feast of tabernacles.” They go to Jerusalem. Christ is in Jerusalem. We will be in Jerusalem. They’re not worshipping some other king. It is Christ Who comes back to the city over which He’s been the king for a very, very long time.
“… And it shall be, that who [won’t] come…[you know, there’s famine, there’s no rain, there’s a plague in verse 19 and that’s how nations will be punished, Egypt or any other nation that won’t keep the feast.]
“…In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar…[that’s interesting, there’s a house in Jerusalem]. Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts” (Zech. 14: 16-17, 20-21).
So there is a house there and there are sacrifices there. And I don’t care who you are, what nation of the world, you are coming to that house. At some point, it will make the Hajj to Mecca look like a child’s play. You’re coming to that house in that city to worship the King……
Now what’s interesting is, in Daniel chapter 8…I’ve covered this in Bible studies, literally, brethren, beginning in 1977. I’ve never had time to cover it, but we all understood it. It’s nothing new that I’m telling you in verse 14. It talks about what the world thinks is 2,300 days. Verse 14…This is brief, because we have awesome, awesome things to cover yet…
“And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days…[this abomination in verse 13]…two thousand three hundred days…[It’s wrong. Look in the margin. It’ll say “mornings and evenings.”]…then shall the sanctuary be cleansed” (Dan. 8:14).
If I had more time I could walk you through all of that. There’s nothing mysterious. It’s far, far from new understanding. Mr. Armstrong taught it to every class of students who ever came to college. There was coming a period of 1,150 days—that’s half of 2,300 days—where the sacrifices would stop. They stop at 1,290 days to go before Jesus Christ ushers in the Millennium, and they start again 140 days before He returns……
God, for His own purpose, allowed them to stop. He has allowed them to stop, historically, before. Nebuchadnezzar stopped them—Titus, in A.D. 70, the Roman general, stopped them. The False Prophet is going to stop them again. Now we haven’t proven that there’s going to be a Temple there, but we need to……
Obviously…Matthew 24 and verse 15…we’re going to look for evidence in the New Testament and the Old Testament. Is there going to be another temple? I have told you about my discussions with Mr. Armstrong. We will come to that in a moment, again. But it has been a question whether the Jews would build a third temple. The Church and ministers have long talked about this.
Some Jews, the Hassidim, from sixteenth century Poland (the 1500s), the guys with the long tassels, basically, believe there isn’t supposed to be another temple. All the orthodox and ultra-orthodox, other than the Hassidim—there are some that are called the Haredi Jews—believe there should be a third temple. The secularist in Israel, including atheists, who are Jews around the world, have no position one way or another, but the vast majority of people who practice Judaism know there has to be another temple, and increasingly, they’re probably invoking…From all I read…what was said before the second temple. Some were saying, “Now isn’t the time that the Lord’s house should be built.” But there is a powerful sense…I’ll come to it later, after dinner. I’m going to show you more…that we’re getting to the time—we’ve got to do it.
Benjamin Netanyahu has some very powerful people pushing him very hard over this subject, including 70 rabbis, who wrote President Obama this week and said, “Don’t believe Benjamin Netanyahu. Believe the Arabs! We’re going to build a third temple.” They wrote him a personal letter. Now, I think Benjamin Netanyahu sincerely believes there won’t be another temple. When he says the status quo on the Temple Mount isn’t going to change—which he says about every hour on the hour for weeks now—he believes it and means it. But there are people who disagree with him. In this letter to the president they said, “Believe the Arabs. They’re right. We want to build a third temple.” You ought to get the letter. I just read it. It came out three days ago.
Christ said, “When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet stand in the holy place, (whoso reads, let him understand” (Matt. 24:15). People of God around the world, understand; then, of course, those in Jerusalem flee from Judea.
Now look, Christ calls this a Holy Place at the end of the age. It is a place that is holy. Remember the verse earlier that I read. The word “holy” means “holy”…and it means “sacred (ceremonially consecrated): “holy,” “a holy one, or thing,” “most holy.” It can mean any of those things.
In case you wondered is there different levels of holy? Well, a word that is used for holy saints 62 times is the same word for Holy Spirit…hagios…holy angels—holy city—holy scriptures—holy brethren—all through the New Testament. There is only one standard for “holy” and Christ said there is a place that is holy, and there is one who’s going to stand in it, but will it be a Temple of God?
The Jews think He’s down in the Wall now, because that’s the only thing that is left. And they wail in front of the Western Wall, the Wailing Wall. That’s why, of course, the Arabs want to take control of the Wall. The Arabs have come out recently and said—the Palestinians and the Jordanians—they want all Jews off the Temple Mount. They can’t even visit, because so many of them are praying up there. A great deal is happening there……
You’ve already seen there’s going to be a house, at the end of Zechariah 14, that people go to. There’s a holy place in which an abomination stands……
That’s all we have time for. Trust me there’s a lot more and it’s now about to get interesting.