THE LETTER TO THE NINE AND A HALF TRIBES
1. These are the words, that Baruch, the son of Neriah, send to the nine and a half tribes beyond the river Euphrates.
2. My message is "MERCY WILL LEAD TO PEACE".
3. Remember, the love of He Who created us, Who always loved us, and never hated us.
4. Truly, all the twelve tribes are now bound by one chain, insomuch as we are all from the same forefather.
5. I want to tell you some things before I die, regarding the evils come upon you, and upon your brethren, so that you may see that God's judgment is fair, and its purpose is to make you repent so that you may be resurrected in the last days.
6. If you consider that the evils now befallen all of us are for good, you will not in the end days be condemned to torment, but will receive eternal hope. But for this to happen, you must destroy from your minds that worthless error that brought you these evils from God.
7. For if you do repent such errors, the Lord will always remember you, and not forsake you, but will someday gather us all together again with Himself.
1. Allow me to first tell you what has befallen Zion. Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, came against us.
2. For we had sinned against God, and we had not kept His commandments, and He had not yet chastened us as we deserved.
3. We received the same punishment as did you, but in an even greater measure.
1. When the enemy came, the angels of the Most High were sent and they overthrew the walls of the city, destroying the firm iron-reinforced corners which the enemy could not have done.
2. The vessels of the sanctuary were hidden, lest the enemy would get such.
3. After these things, the angels then delivered the wall, the plundered house, the burnt Temple, and the people to the enemy, that the enemy could not boast that they had overthrown the Temple of the Most High.
4. Your brethren were bound and taken captive to Babylon where they now dwell.
5. Few of us remain in the land.
6. This is the ordeal of which I write to you.
7. For certainly, I know that the dwelling place of God, the Temple, gave you comfort, and knowing that it remained gave you greater solace than the captivity gave you affliction.
Mercy is kindness, graciousness, unmerited favor.
Mercy is an essential quality of God
God is rich in mercy:
"But God, Who is rich in mercy, for His love wherewith He loved us."
God is "full of pity and merciful"
"The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion, slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all, and His tender mercies are over all His works."
Mankind is to show mercy:
"Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy."
"Be ye merciful, even as your Father is merciful."
The mercy of God is not just His pardon of sinners, but His attitude toward mankind from which His pardoning mercy proceeds.
Psalms 136:1-5 (see also vv 6-26)
O Give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good; for His mercy endureth forever.
O give thanks unto the God of gods; for His mercy endureth forever. O give thanks to the Lord of lords; for His mercy endureth forever. To Him Who alone doeth great wonders; for His mercy endureth forever. To Him Who by wisdom made the heavens; for His mercy endureth forever.
I Peter 4:17-18
"FOR THE TIME IS COME THAT JUDGMENT MUST BEGIN AT THE HOUSE OF GOD; AND IF IT FIRST BEGIN AT US, WHAT SHALL THE END OF THEM THAT OBEY NOT THE GOSPEL OF GOD? AND IF THE RIGHTEOUS SCARCELY BE SAVED, WHERE SHALL THE UNGODLY APPEAR?"
There is a judgment of which the church is probably 95 % ignorant. Most Christians know about the tribulation, and its judgments. Many know about the judgment at the end of the millennium. Both of those are for the unsaved. There is a judgment for the church, that is seldom mentioned. It is so seldom mentioned, that most Christians have never heard or discussed this judgment.
"YEA, THE STORK IN THE HEAVEN KNOWETH HER APPOINTED TIMES; AND THE TURTLE AND THE CRANE, AND THE SWALLOW OBSERVE THE TIME OF THEIR COMING; BUT MY PEOPLE KNOW NOT THE JUDGMENT OF THE LORD."
God's people are purposely ignorant of this judgment. It is not a pleasant subject. We would rather not think about it. Yet, it is soon to occur, and thus we cannot continue to be ignorant of this judgment. One of the reasons for the gift of exhortation in the congregations is to keep them ready for this coming judgment.
The people in Noah's day could have listened to Noah's warning. They chose to ignore his warning. We are told that it will be the same in the last days.
"AND AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF NOAH, SO SHALL IT BE ALSO IN THE DAYS OF THE SON OF MAN. THEY DID EAT, DRINK...MARRIED WIVES...GIVEN IN MARRIAGE, UNTIL THE DAY THAT NOAH ENTERED INTO THE ARK, AND THE FLOOD CAME AND DESTROYED THEM ALL."
Lot and his family had to almost be forcibly removed from Sodom. They almost didn't escape that judgment. In fact, one of the group did not escape, Lot's wife. In that day also, much was happening that distracted the people from the judgment to come. We are warned that many will be distracted from the coming judgments in the last days also.
"LIKEWISE ALSO AS IT WAS IN THE DAYS OF LOT; THEY DID EAT, THEY DRANK, THEY BOUGHT, THEY SOLD, THEY PLANTED, THEY BUILDED. BUT THE SAME DAY THAT LOT WENT OUT OF SODOM, IT RAINED FIRE AND BRIMSTONE FORM HEAVEN, AND DESTROYED THEM ALL. EVEN THUS SHALL IT BE IN THE DAY THAT THE SON OF MAN IS REVEALED."
The second parable that Jesus teaches in Matthew 13 reveals a great judgment. The Parable of Tares shows a time when the devil brings forth a harvest of troublemakers, false prophets, and hypocrites. Satan has been sowing tares in the congregations for many years. The fact of the tares in the midst of the wheat has hindered the great harvest that the Lord wants to bring forth from the church.
The word "tares" is from the Greek word "zizania". This was a grain that looked much like wheat while growing. Yet, when the grain became fully ripe, the grain turned black, rather that white. The grains of the tares were poisonous. They did harm to the harvest, for even in small amounts, they would make the flour bitter. These tares are like the backbiters, faultfinders, troublemakers, hypocrites, and false teachers in the congregations. They hinder revival. They can cause people to backslide. They can prevent souls from being saved. And like the tares, they cannot be detected until the church also ripens in revival. Revival makes these tares evident. When the wheat turns white for the harvest, then the tares turn black and are finally known.
The coming judgment on these tares is before the rapture:
"IN THE TIME OF HARVEST, I WILL SAY TO THE REAPERS, 'GATHER YE TOGETHER FIRST THE TARES, AND BIND THEM IN BUNDLES TO BURN THEM; BUT GATHER THE WHEAT INTO MY BARN.'"
So before the wheat is gathered into the barn (the rapture of the church), the tares are to be gathered into bundles to be burnt (the judgment of the church that Peter mentions). Thus, in the last days, when the church is experiencing a latter rain revival, the tares will also ripen and be very noticed. This is why Peter, and Paul, and other writers warned about false prophets of the last days. They will become more blatant, more vile than ever before:
"AS THEREFORE THE TARES ARE GATHERED AND BURNED IN FIRE, SO SHALL IT BE IN THE END OF THE AGE. THE SON OF MAN SHALL SEND FORTH HIS ANGELS, AND THEY SHALL GATHER OUT OF HIS KINGDOM ALL THINGS THAT OFFEND, AND THEM THAT DO INIQUITY. AND SHALL CAST THEM INTO A FURNACE OF FIRE; THERE SHALL BE WAILING AND GNASHING OF TEETH."
This punishment that is promised is not a scolding, not a tough sermon. This indicates a punishment of hell fire. Jesus re-iterated this teaching in verses 49 and 50. He was trying very hard to get the disciples to understand this truth. Peter obviously did, for he refers to this latter day judgment on the church which would be so severe that the "RIGHTEOUS SHALL SCARCELY BE SAVED" (I Peter 4:17-18).
There is much sin within the church. We don't like to admit it, but it is true. Many buildings of worship are like morgues. Some in the congregations secretly have gotten into astrology, predictions by psychics, occultic practices, new age thinking, sexual sins, impurity, astral travel, etc.
In II Timothy 3:1-14, we are told that "IN THE LAST DAYS PERILOUS TIMES SHALL COME." Then Paul describes some in the congregations who have a "FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENY THE POWER THEREOF." These "perilous" events will include the purging of the congregations of the tares, and Paul describes in detail their sins. Don't assume that the perilous events are only for those outside the church, for this is not in keeping with the context of the warning:
"THAT HE MIGHT PRESENT IT TO HIMSELF, A GLORIOUS CHURCH, NOT HAVING SPOT OR WRINKLE, OR ANY SUCH THING, BUT THAT IT SHOULD BE HOLY, AND WITHOUT BLEMISH."
Jesus wants a pure church when He comes to rapture it. It is far from that type of church today. We need revival, and we need the purging of the tares.
"I KNOW THY WORKS, THAT THOU ART NEITHER COLD, NOR HOT: I WOULD THOU WERT COLD OR HOT. SO THEN BECAUSE THOU ART LUKEWARM, AND NEITHER COLD NOR HOT, I WILL SPUE THEE OUT OF MY MOUTH."
This warning was given to the congregation at Laodicea, which represents the majority of congregations in the last days. Most congregations are "LUKEWARM." Jesus says He will "SPUE" them out. Was He kidding? Do we ignore His warning? The congregation at Laodicea is described as thinking that they "HAD NEED OF NOTHING." Many today are unaware of the lacking in their spiritual lives. We need revival desperately. We need to be in the revival, not just spectators of the revival. We need to be "HOT" for the Lord.
"HE WILL THOROUGHLY PURGE HIS FLOOR, AND GATHER HIS WHEAT INTO THE GARNER - BUT HE WILL BURN UP THE CHAFF WITH UNQUENCHABLE FIRE."
Three events are mentioned here:
1. "PURGING THE FLOOR"
This is the harvest of tares.
2. "GATHER THE WHEAT"
This is the rapture of the church.
3. "BURNING THE CHAFF"
This is the punishment of the wicked.
II Thessalonians 2:3
"DAY OF THE LORD SHALL NOT COME, EXCEPT THERE BE A FALLING AWAY FIRST..."
This "FALLING AWAY" is the Greek word "apolusa", not "apostasia". Most have interpreted this as referring to the great backsliding to occur in the last days. Yet, the word "apolusa" refers to "a separation, withdrawal." Paul was referring here to a separation that occurs before the rapture of the church. This is the severing of the tares from the church. The day of the rapture will not precede this severing process. Paul made it clear that the "FALLING AWAY" was before the rapture.