In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:2-3)
An old Gospel song that goes by the same title talks about “a mansion just over the hilltop in that bright land where we’ll never grow old.” The singer dreams of having a “gold one that is silver lined.” Does that not seem somewhat esurient to covet the riches of heaven? I admit that the thought did not occur to me until recently.
When I think of a mansion, I imagine the $5 million (or more) homes of the super-rich or the palaces of royalty. Somehow, I do not think that is exactly to what Jesus referred when He spoke the words of our beginning verse above.
Consider this. “Heaven” as described in Revelation 21-22 enjoys a perfect environment much like that of the Garden of Eden that God originally created. So perfect was that environment, that the first couple could run around naked and not worry about getting sunburned, rained on, or frost bitten. Furthermore, all their nutritional needs were provided. It was a perfect place. Their only shelter were the stars above (and oh, how the stars must have sparkled at night in the pollution-free sky!). There was no need for any kind of building for shelter, much less a mansion.
Heaven will be like that, I think. No mansions of gold with silver trim. Before ending His earthly ministry, Jesus promised that in His Father’s house – only ONE house – are many mansions. That word in the Greek is monē, which means “a staying, abiding, dwelling, abode.” If Jesus meant some kind of building, He could have used the word “castle” – Greek parembolē meaning something like a fortress. Or, He could have used the word “palace” – Greek aulē, meaning “a yard (as open to the wind); by implication a mansion: – court, ([sheep-]) fold, hall, palace.” However, Jesus used the word monē promising that we would have a place to stay and He has many places to stay and dwell for those who follow Him.
Sadly, we too often derive our “theology” from the songs we sing rather than from the Word of God. Next time you hear that old Gospel song, put that golden mansion out of your mind and be happy that Jesus has given you a place in His Father’s house.
Reader, if you are unsure of your eternal abode, please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life.” Jesus has a reservation for you in His Father’s house, but you have to take Him up on His invitation.
 “Mansion Over the Hilltop” by Ira Stanphill, 1949.
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)
Last week, in Part 2, we studied the overall creation. In today’s study, we focus on the creation of man, the fall of man, the resulting curse of death on the whole creation, and God’s solution for restoration.
Part 3, The Cross
Some misunderstand the second chapter of Genesis thinking that it is a second creation account. However, this is a recapitulation of Day Six to focus on the creation of man. The Bible is the account of God dealing with mankind from beginning to end, hence the reason for the recap.
Genesis 2:7-9 shows God placing man in a perfect environment. Unlike the animals, God “formed” – Hebrew yâtsar, to fashion as a potter molds a clay vessel – man out of the dust of the “ground” – Hebrew ‘ădâmâh, the feminine form of “adam.” God “breathed” into man the “breath of life,” distinguishing man from the animals. Humans are NOT animals. God placed man in a special garden – a place where God and man could commune.
In the Garden of Eden, God planted all kinds of luscious fruits and vegetables for man to enjoy without restriction. In the center God planted two unique trees. One was the unrestricted Tree of Life and the other was the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:9) Adam could eat all he wanted from the Tree of Life, but he was strictly forbidden to eat of the second tree. “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). It should be noted that at the time God gave the prohibition, the woman had not yet been created.
Not long after – I believe it was within two weeks – Satan, the serpent, entered the Garden to destroy God’s perfect creation (Genesis 3:1-6). In executing his strategy to destroy mankind by separating him from his Creator, Satan employed three tactics that he has not changed in over 6000 years. He introduced doubt in God’s Word – “Yea, hath God said” (v. 1). Next he slandered God’s Word – “Ye shall not surely die” (v. 4). Finally, he accused God of withholding benefits – “God knows … ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (v. 5).
Eve succumbed to Satan’s tactics by the same three weaknesses that we all have as humans. The beloved Apostle John described them this way. “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world” (1 John 2:16). Eve “saw that the tree was good for food” – lust of the flesh. She saw “that it was pleasant to the eye” – lust of the eyes. Finally, She saw that it was “a tree to be desired to make one wise” – the pride of life. As Solomon says, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).
Eve ate of the fruit “and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat” (Genesis 3:6). Adam was in on the conversation, so he knew exactly what was taking place. God gave the command to Adam directly. Eve got the command second hand from Adam; therefore, Adam had the greater responsibility. So, why did Adam not intervene?
When they ate of the forbidden fruit, “the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). I believe that when they were first created, God clothed them in light [‘ôr (אוֹר)] and when they sinned, they lost the cover of light and could see their nakedness. Having their guilt exposed, they feared to face their Creator and they hid themselves. Obviously, they were not acquainted with God’s omnipresent nature. Scripture records that “they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day” (Genesis 3:8). The Hebrew word translated “voice” is qôl, which can also be translated as “sound” or “noise.” God, the Father, is “spirit” (John 4:24), therefore it is unlikely that a spirit would produce any kind of sound. However, God the Son having a physical body like that of His creation which He created in His image, would make noise as He walked through the Garden. He called out to Adam – as if He did not know where Adam was hiding. Rather than confront them directly, He gave them the opportunity to confess their sin. God seeks confession and repentance. God seeks man: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Man does not seek God: “there is none that seeketh after God” (Romans 3:11). God patiently waited for a confession (Genesis 3:11). “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). However, instead of confessing and pleas for forgiveness, God got excuses. Adam blames God for the woman (Genesis 3:12) and blames the woman even though he bore the greatest responsibility. The woman blamed the serpent (Genesis 3:13), and the serpent had no one to blame but himself.
With no confession or a plea for forgiveness forthcoming, God pronounced a curse upon man and upon all of His creation because of man. However, God did not end it there. He also provided the promise of redemption. “And I will put enmity between thee [the serpent/Satan] and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; [He] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15). This is known as the “Protevangelium” – the “First Gospel.” It is The first promise of the Savior. He would be the “seed of the woman” previewing the Virgin Birth. The serpent (Satan) would bruise His heel (at the cross), but in the end, He will bruise Satan’s head (Revelation 20:10).
In the meantime, God the Son, instituted the first blood sacrifice to atone for sin (Genesis 3:21). “Atone” means to “cover.” It was a temporary covering for sins. Death now entered the world as God (Jesus) sacrificed an innocent animal to make coverings of skins (‛ôr,עוֹר) for Adam and Eve. Initially, God clothed them with (‘ôr, אוֹר); now He clothed them with (‛ôr,עוֹר). This began the practice of offering animal sacrifices to atone for sin. Jesus would be the ultimate sacrifice to atone for sin, once and for all. Through His perfect sacrifice of His own blood, He won redemption for His fallen creation. Still, there must be a choice. One can choose the Tree of Life, i.e. the cross, or one can continue on the “broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction” (Matthew 7:13) and be “cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15). There are no other options.
And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? (Revelation 6:10)
This scene in heaven takes place shortly after Jesus opens the fifth seal of the seven-sealed scroll. The Tribulation is just beginning. The first seal releases the white horse rider that carries a bow but no arrows. He has a crown and he goes “forth conquering, and to conquer.” Most end-times prophecy teachers believe this one is Antichrist that appears at the beginning of the Tribulation. That he has no arrows for his bow suggests that he conquers through diplomacy. Further confirmation of this comes from the statement that “a crown was given unto him;” he does not take it by force. The Prophet Daniel describes him as the “fourth beast/kingdom” whose kingdom will be unlike any before, and it “shall devour the whole earth.” Daniel’s “beast” – the “little horn” – a.k.a. Antichrist, will “speak great words against the Most High.” Daniel says that he will “wear out the saints,” i.e., the Jews for three and one half years. This will take place at the final three and one half years of the seven-year Tribulation.
In a later vision, Daniel predicts the appearance of Antichrist. “And he [Antichrist] shall confirm the covenant with many for one week [seven years]: and in the midst of the week [after 3 ½ years] he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation [when Christ returns], and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate” (Daniel 9:27, emphasis mine). Of him the Apostle Paul says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition [i.e., Antichrist]; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4, emphasis mine). Jesus also warned, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:15-16).
So, to recapitulate, Antichrist, the rider on the white horse, comes on the scene and obtains world renown and power by diplomatic means (“speaking great words”). He confirms a peace agreement with Israel (and “with many”), which probably allows for the construction of the third temple (which needs to exist since he is going to desecrate it). This act will begin the seven-year Tribulation. After 3 ½ years, he breaks the covenant, he enters the Temple declaring himself to be god, and initiates what will be the worst persecution of Jews the world has ever known. By the way, this persecution will also include Gentiles that come to faith in Christ during the Tribulation.
The next riders also show up at the beginning of the Tribulation, the first 3 ½ years. The rider on the red horse removes peace from the earth. The rider on the black horse brings global economic collapse. The rider on the pale (green) horse brings famine, plague, and death. The four horse riders represent the first four seals of the seven-seal scroll.
“And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Revelation 6:9-10, emphasis mine). These are the “Tribulation Saints” that come to faith Christ after the Rapture (the “snatching away”) of the Church. Being a follower of Christ during the Tribulation will come at a high cost and many will pay with their lives. Now their souls are with the Savior, but they also see their brothers and sisters in Christ suffering the horrors of the Tribulation on earth. So, they cry, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” And, the Tribulation has only just begun.
We are beginning to see the “signs” of the end-times. Israel, the focal point of end-times prophecy, is ready to institute an unstable government. The players in the Gog and Magog war are staging for battle. Through vaccine and mask mandates for the Wuhan Bug, the world population is being conditioned to blindly obey all orders that come from “above.” The US Government spends money that does not exist in the treasury and justify their foolishness by simply printing more. The “woke cancel culture” systematically undermines or destroys all social norms. Even language has lost all meaning. Violence among people groups is increasing all over the world. The downward spiral of our moral decay removes any trace of hope for a rational thinking person.
It seems that I find myself on a daily basis crying out, “How long, O Lord will You allow things to continue as they are?” Anyone who places their faith and trust in Jesus sees the light at the end of this dark tunnel. That light is the hope of Jesus’ soon coming for His Bride. “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, emphasis mine). After that comes the seven-year Tribulation, which culminates with the return of Christ to set up His 1000-year reign on earth.
I feel bad for those that will not come to Christ until after the Rapture. Life will be unimaginably difficult for Christians (Jews and Gentiles) living in the Tribulation, if they are not martyred early on. However, Jesus’ reign on earth is the only fix for this sick and broken world. I can only plead to anyone reading this if you do not know Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you need to settle that right now. Please read my page on “Securing Eternal Life” and meet Jesus at the Rapture rather than at His Second Coming.
 Israeli religious leaders claim they have everything they need to build the Third Temple. All they need is the “go ahead” in order to start construction. They claim they can have it built in a matter of months.
Some trust in chariots, and some in horses: but we will remember the name of the LORD our God. (Psalm 20:7)
The familiar rendition of Psalm 20:7 reads, “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God” (emphasis mine) as equivocated by the New International Version (NIV). The first “trust” in the verse does not appear in the original Hebrew, but has been supplied by English translators for ease of reading and understanding. The addition of the word is in keeping with the context of the entire psalm which looks to God for provision, protection and salvation.
The second word rendered “trust” is from the Hebrew root zâkar which means “to remember, recall, or call to mind.” Other versions translate zâkar as “boast, depend, honor, mention, praise, rely, remember, shall call, take pride in, and trust.” The literal translation of zâkar is “to remember.” The Hebrew verb is in the Hiphil imperfect stem, so literally it means “to cause to remember,” but that would give it an awkward rendition in English.
However, we could argue that “trust” is a valid rendering, but only by going through some mental gymnastics. As we go through trials in our lives, God provides, protects, and saves us from harm. We may not sense God’s presence while we are going through our troubles, but when we look back on our lives, we can “see” and “remember” how God’s hand has been upon us to guide, direct, protect, provide, and ultimately, to save us from those times. My favorite Bible verse says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). As we “remember” the working of God in our past, we can “trust” Him with whatever we face in the present, and we can “trust” Him with whatever may come to us in the future.
But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation: (Mark 3:29)
Hell seldom comes up as a topic of interest. The notion of hell congers up unpleasant images of souls tortured by unquenchable flames and taunted by merciless devils with pitchforks. Heaven makes a more pleasant topic of conversation. I cannot wait to get there!
So, when a social media contact posted his take on a less-than-eternal nature of hell, I could not help (against my better judgment) to try and briefly correct his erroneous conclusions. I tried to keep it brief, but after his second response, I thought it best to conclude the discussion, and take Paul’s advice to “strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14). These kinds of discussions usually remain unresolved and provide a poor witness to bystanders. (On social media, one can never tell who is “listening.”)
Anyway, this gentleman (I’ll call him Aloysius (“famous warrior”) or Al for short) has apparently labored intensely on the subject of hell and arrived at the conclusion that hell is not eternal. He based his conclusion on the Hebrew word ‛ôlâm and the Greek word aiōnios, both of which are often translated as “forever” or “everlasting.” Al correctly pointed out that both of these words have several shades of meaning. Depending on the context, ‛ôlâm can mean “concealed, vanishing point, eternity, always, or perpetual,” according to Strong’s. Brown-Driver-Briggs’ defines it as “long duration, antiquity, forever, ever, everlasting, evermore, or perpetual.” As for aiōnios, Strong’s defines it as “perpetual, eternal, everlasting, or forever.” Thayer’s Greek Definitions renders it, “without beginning, without end, never to cease, everlasting.”
Al failed to see the inconsistency in his argument. He defined ‛ôlâm and aiōnios as “eternal” when applied to God or heaven, but temporal when applied to hell. He did not reject the concept of hell, just the idea of an eternal hell. I did not pursue the question as to how he arrived at that conclusion, but perhaps his revulsion to the notion of an eternal damnation conflicted with his idea of a loving God. I understand why someone would feel that way, but we are not in a place to make that decision for God.
The Bible clearly teaches that heaven and hell are real places and they are eternal. All humans will end up in one place or the other for eternity. One verse from Jesus’ own lips easily exposes the contradiction in Al’s argument. In His discourse concerning the separation of the sheep and the goats, Jesus sums up the destiny of both. “And these [goats] shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous [sheep] into life eternal” (Matthew 25:46, emphasis mine). In this verse, aiōnios defines the duration of “punishment” (i.e., hell) and “life.” Seeing that the same word is applied to both, they must mean the same thing. If hell is not eternal then neither is life (i.e., heaven). If heaven is eternal, then so must be hell. Keep in mind that this verse is in the same context, so the word cannot have different meanings.
Related to aiōnios is the Greek word aiōn, which means “an age, perpetuity, continuing, or everlasting.” This word is often translated as “for ever” in the King James Version (KJV). When rendered as such, aiōn is usually preceded by the preposition eis, which means “to or into.” Together, eis aiōn could be translated “into the ages,” “into perpetuity,” or “to eternity.”
The Book of the Revelation explains the eternal nature of hell. In the Fourteenth Chapter, those that take the Mark of the Beast are condemned to eternal hell. “And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name” (Revelation 14:11, emphasis mine). The repletion is emphatic, εις αιωνας αιωνων – “into the ages of the ages.” Satan, the Beast (Antichrist), and the False Prophet earn the same reward. “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10, emphasis mine). Again, the eternal nature of hell is described: εις αιωνας αιωνων – “into the ages of the ages.” Then those who reject Christ will be judged at the Great White Throne. “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15, emphasis mine).
I understand Al’s desire that hell be temporary. That those who go there stay just long enough to pay their debt and get vaporized. I do not cherish the thought of anyone going to that place even for one minute. The Bible tells us that “God is love,” and that “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9, emphasis mine). However, God is eternal – without beginning and without end. Therefore, when we offend the eternal God, we offend Him eternally, and the punishment, therefore, must be of eternal consequences.
The Bible says that we have all offended God. “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one … For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10, 23). However, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, emphasis mine). The eternal God took on human flesh and shed His precious, perfect blood to cover our sins. His sacrifice provides for us the eternal atonement, covering, to satisfy our eternal offense against Eternal God. But we have the choice to believe or disbelieve, to accept or reject. “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13).