EBible Fellowship Sunday Bible Study – 28-Sep-2008


by Chris McCann


Let us turn to Luke 6 and I will start reading in verse 20.  It says:

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

I am going to stop right there in verse 22.  What I would like to talk about a little bit today is this idea of being a reproach for Christ’s sake, or for the Gospel’s sake, or as it says here, “for the Son of man’s sake.”  They are all actually synonyms; they all mean the same thing.  Every true child of God is a reproach.  God could save a baby and that baby really would not have manifested in its life the characteristics of a believer, so there could be an exception.  The world could not really look down on a very young child of God, a baby or an infant.  But every true believer, once God saves them and begins to work in their life, will be a reproach. 

The word “reproach” is translated in one place as “revile.”   That same word, in another of the Gospels, is translated as “revile”.  And in another place, it is translated that they “cast the same in the teeth.”  Remember when Jesus was on the Cross and it says they “cast the same in his teeth”?  That word for “cast into the teeth” is this word “reproach.”  That is, in the world’s eyes, the child of God, the one who believes the Bible and desires to obey it, is lowly esteemed.  We can say that they are not counted for much.  The world does not really esteem them highly.  Or we could say it the other way, that people do not come running after us as they do after others.  We are not really looked up to in the eyes of the world.  

That actually can be part of the reproach.  It is just that the world does esteem other people of the world and look up to other people and wants to be with other people, and so forth, because they are one in the same.  They are different people, but they have the same mindset in the sense that they are both of the world.  But once God saves a person out of the world, translating them out of the kingdom of darkness and into the Kingdom of the Lord Jesus, then we become a reproach.  For instance, over in 1 Timothy 4:10, it says:

For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.

We know that when God is saying that He “is the Saviour of all men,” it means all of His elect.  It does not mean every single person or every human being.  That is why “specially” is emphasized in the latter part of the verse.  It is narrowing the focus down to those that believe, and that is what God is talking about.  For instance, this same word “specially,” over in 1 Timothy 5:8 where it says:

But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, …

So “specially” is narrowing the focus to “those of his own house.”  Now he might have a larger family, but really when God says to provide for your own, it has to do with your wife, your children, your house.  Even though you might have some relatives that are part of your family, they are relations, but you are not really required to provide for them.  They have to take care of themselves. 

So, “God, who is the Saviour of all men,” “of those that believe.”  And the only ones who will believe unto salvation are those that God gives faith to, the ones that receive the gift of grace.  Anyway, in 1 Timothy 4:10:

… we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, …

Now it is a fact that if we would just put this book away—no actually, you can keep the book, you can keep the Bible, but just do not take it so seriously, do not try to live according to it, and you and I can get along fine. 

As far as growing up in the world and spending some time in the world and living in the world for years and then being saved at a later date, there are not many advantages.  It would be far better to know the Lord from a child, like Timothy or other believers.  But if there is any advantage to spending some time in the world before God saves you, it is that you know that as long as you do not live according to the Bible, you are like anyone else.  You will be accepted, you will have friends, you will be “in.”  There are degrees of all this, but you will be of the world.  No one is going to look at you as an oddball, no matter how odd you might be, because everyone fits into the world.  

That is the one benefit that I think I can say I have, because I was not a true believer until my twenties.  And so I know what it is like to be out in the world.  I know what it is like to be accepted by the people of the world.  And the funny thing is, everyone—well not everyone, people—will praise you.  “Oh, you are such a nice person.  You are such a good guy.”  The reality is that at that time, I did not care about anyone but myself.  That is the reality.  And people get this other opinion and they think, “Oh, you are such a good guy.”   And then when you do become a child of God and you do actually have a real concern for others and you really begin to love them—you are praying for them and you have a real concern for them—then it is like you are over here.  You become unacceptable.  That is why the Apostle Paul says, “The more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved,” in 2 Corinthians 12:15.  That is the nature of the Christian life.  The more we really love someone, the less we will experience love in return, even from people in our own family.  Well, that is part of the reproach. 

Let us go to Hebrews 11.  In Hebrews 11 (we are familiar with this verse, this is speaking of Moses) it says in verses 25-26:

Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

And that is, deep down, the believer.  You know, no one likes to be reviled.  No one wants to be a reproach.  But God gives us eyes to see the true situation.  Here we are where He has saved us and He has given us His Word.  You know all you have to do is not hold too tightly to these truths of the Bible and you will have a lot of friends.  Alternatively, you can, through God’s grace, follow what the Bible says, and to many people you are going to be a reproach.  That is how it was with Moses.  That is how it is with every child of God who is able to show forth characteristics of the believer.  The believer has no option, no choice.  There is no, “Sorry, we want to be accepted, we want to be liked, we want to be of the world.”  

However, let us look at these two options.  Here we are accepted with God.  We are given the gift of eternal life, and there are blessings forevermore.  But on this other side, the world will accept us and the world will receive us back into its fellowship, and we can have a comfortable, to some degree, life for however long we live in this world.  If we put those two things on a scale, then of course if God gives us eyes to see the truth, we are going to realize, “Let me be reproached by the world; let me suffer whatever they think, whatever they say; I do not care because it is nothing, it is nothing.”  And that is a bad deal, anyone who goes and takes the world’s side rather than Christ’s side, because it is true that Christ Himself and eternal life are greater than all the treasures of the world. 

Well you see, there are so many verses where God basically lays this out.  It says in Hebrews 13:13-14:

Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach. For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

It is all over the place in the Bible that we will be a reproach.  It is a part of the Christian life.  Now there are also other aspects to it, but it all really boils down when we identify ourselves with the Gospel, with the Bible, with the Lord Jesus.  Now in Genesis 30:22-24, it says:

And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son.

There Rachel was barren and she desperately wanted children.  She and her sister Leah were married to Jacob.  Leah had children, she had already been able to bear, but Rachel could not.  Rachel was so desperate that she gave Jacob her handmaid Bilhah, and through her handmaid Bilhah, had two sons to Jacob.  Rachel is the one who named them.  That is how it was back then; the handmaid was like a concubine, like a servant.  So in a real way, those two sons of Bilhah’s were Rachel’s.  That is why after that, Leah was not going to be outdone and gave her handmaid Zilpah to Jacob, and she also bore Jacob two sons. 

It turns out that Leah would have six sons of her own plus the two from Zilpah, totaling eight; and Rachel would have two sons, Joseph being the first and then later Benjamin, plus the two from Bilhah, totaling four.  And we see the one-third/two-thirds relationship that God has with His people, where of the twelve Leah in a way had eight, and of that twelve, Rachel had four.  So Rachel had the one-third and Leah had the two-thirds.  As God likens His people to the figure of one-third, Rachel’s children picture that. 

But it was a while before she could bear, and she was barren.  We can figure that Leah was probably making some comments to her where it became a reproach to her; she was reviled.  There are some verses in the Bible that could even kind of insinuate that there was something wrong with anyone who was not having children, that they were not being blessed by God.  And there could always be that kind of relationship, like with Sarah who was barren and other women we find in the Bible who were barren.  Their inability to bare children was a reproach.  We also find that in the New Testament with Zacharias and his wife Elisabeth.  In Luke 1 it says in verse 5:

There was in the days of Herod, the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth.

The course of Abia” was a period of ministry when the Levites and the priest had to go and serve in the temple.  Abia, or Abijah it says in 1 Chronicles 24, was the eighth.  There were twenty-four men named in 1 Chronicles 24.  Two would be for each month of the year, and so the seventh and the eighth would have covered the fourth month.  Therefore, we know that this is when Zacharias was ministering in the temple, in the Hebrew fourth month.  And then it says in Luke 1 verse 6:

And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.

They are both righteous.  People picked up on that pretty quickly, that Zacharias and Elisabeth were righteous.  God even adds that they were walking in the commandments.  You see, anyone who wants to think, “Well, I can earn my way into Heaven; I can get into Heaven; I can keep the law; I can obey the commandments; Zacharias and Elisabeth did it, and it made them righteous”—that is not true.  But that is how God wrote it, so anyone could read it that way.  And when we were having the discussion with the Muslims, they went here.  When I would say what the Bible says in Romans 3:10:

… There is none righteous, no, not one:

“Oh yes?”  And then they come right here.  “See, these two people are righteous.”  It gives those people who want to be justified by their own works a little ammunition, that it is possible.  But actually, what God is saying we can understand better once we read it according to what we read in Romans 5:19.  It says there:

For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

That is the Lord Jesus, and that allows God to say that Zacharias and Elisabeth were righteous.  They were sinners like anyone else.  “There is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not,” the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 7:20.  But because God applied the righteousness of Christ, they were saved people.  They are righteous.  That is how God could say of Noah that he was perfect, or of Job that he was perfect.  It is basically the same thing with other people in the Bible.  They were good or righteous all because of what Christ has done.  He has saved us; He has washed our sins away.  And so He has given us that new heart that is perfect without sin, that is righteous.

Therefore, God could say of anyone that this child of God is righteous.  It has nothing to do with how obedient they are to the law, or that they are keeping the law perfectly.  It is not that.  It is just what Christ has done.  And after we do become saved, we begin to walk in the commandments of God.  We love God, so we keep His commandments more and more.  That is what it is saying of them.  But then in verse 7 of Luke 1:

And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.

She is barren.  She is an old woman, and she cannot have a child.  It is impossible.  But of course, we know that God does the impossible.  It is impossible with man, but not with God.  He is going to come, and first He is telling Zacharias this in the temple.  Zacharias is amazed and asks the question of how this kind of thing could be, and then he is struck dumb until after the birth of John the Baptist.  They go to name the child, and they want to call him Zacharias after his father, but Elisabeth says, “No, no way, his name is John.”  Then they go to Zacharias and they make signs to him (which is kind of funny, he is not deaf).  But it says they made signs to him, and he indicates, he gets his writing tablet and he says, “His name is John.”  Then he could speak right after that because his tongue was loosed by God, and he could then praise God. 

I think later on, I hope you will understand why we are coming here and why we are talking about this.  But remember, a couple of years ago we did a study on Zacharias and Elisabeth and what their names mean.  Elisabeth is from the Hebrew, so is Zacharias.  Elisabeth means “God of the oath.”  That is what her name means, God of the oath.  Zacharias’ name means “YAH has remembered,” and there is a perfect fit.  Elisabeth’s name reminds us that God made an oath, He swore to His people, He swore to His saints of old.  And Zacharias’ name means that God will remember, YAH has remembered, He is going to fulfill that oath, He is going to keep it. 

If you look in Luke 1:69 after Zacharias has his tongue loosed by God, he is not praising God because Elisabeth is going to give birth to John, but he is praising God because the Lord Jesus is going to be born soon, the Messiah.  It says in verses 69-72:

And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;

YAH has remembered.  Zacharias’ name means that very thing.  And in his great thanks to God, he is saying that God has remembered His holy covenant.  Then look at verse 73:

The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,

Elisabeth means “God of the oath.”  Zacharias means “YAH has remembered.”  And in the very words that God is moving him to say, he is mentioning the covenant that has been remembered and the oath that God gave that is now being fulfilled.  It is the beginning stages of the sense that John has just been born and Christ will soon enter into the world.  But still, this is the part of the promise—this is the big part—that the Messiah, the Lord God, would enter into the human race.  And notice in verse 74:

That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,

So God’s oath is going to be performed; it is being fulfilled.  But when is it finally completely fulfilled, the oath that God swore to Abraham, that He swore to the fathers, to all the saints of God?  The question could be, when is God going to remove the reproach off of His people? 

Well, when we become saved, that is part of it.  But still, we are a reproach in the world after salvation.  (Comment from the audience was made).  That is a good answer.  May 21, 2011.  Why is God going to remove the reproach of His people on May 21, 2011?  Because they are all going to be raptured; they are going to be taken out of the world. 

Actually, the bearing the reproach for Christ is going to, in all probability, increase over the next couple of years, especially the more we are telling people that May 21, 2011 is the rapture and that October 21, 2011 is the end of the world.  We are getting closer and people are going to be hearing about this more.  The reproach for Christ, because we get that information from the Bible, will increase, I think, much more than it is now until finally God raptures, He takes up, all His people who are in the world.  He lifts them up, and He brings them into Heaven. 

We have that picture in Revelation 7 of the “great multitude” that just “came out of great tribulation.”  They are ministering, they are serving God before His throne “day and night,” which is a reference to the five-month period.  And all reproach is gone.  There is no reproach in Heaven for believing in Jesus, for desiring to obey God.  You can do that, and we will do that forever and ever and ever.  That is going to be the whole society.  The whole Kingdom of God is along those same lines.  There is not going to be a reproach like there is here, where you have a few who want to obey God and do it His way, and the vast majority do not.  That is how it is here and that is why there is a reproach, but in Heaven there is no longer any reproach for the children of God. 

We know about these five months.  We know Revelation 9 tells us there is going to be five months of torment on earth from May 21 to October 21.  We know in Genesis 7 there were 150 days after the flood when the waters covered the earth and the whole world was experiencing destruction.  But there was one other place where we read about five months that did not make any sense, and that is in Luke 1.  In Luke 1:23-24, it says:

And it came to pass, that, as soon as the days …

That is referring to Zacharias:

… the days of his ministration were accomplished, he departed to his own house. And after those days his wife Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, …

Five months.  You can try to fit the time schedule in but it does not fit, because it is after the fourth month that Zacharias, in the course of Abijah, left his period of ministration to go home.  We can be sure, given what God had told him about having a son, that he would have gone home to his wife and told her, and we can be sure they would not have waited too long to have relations, to have God bless this, and then have the child as the Lord had told them.  But after the fourth month would be the beginning of the fifth month of the Hebrew calendar, and it would go up to the ninth month.  

Even as you try to look at that, there is no way of fitting that time into anything that we know now about the timetable of the end of the world.  But that is not why God is using the five months here.  It is not to try to add to the time schedule or the timeline of history.  Rather, it is to teach us something very important about the five months for the children of God who are in Heaven.  They are in Heaven for that five-month period.  That is why it is 153 days of our calendar (9 X 17 or 3 X 3 X 17—17 being the number of Heaven), because the believers have been promised the completion of their salvation, which will only happen in Heaven.  And once they are taken up, then they are going to worship God for that “day and night” period of five months.  Well here:

… Elisabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, …

Why five months?  Why not three?  How long before you start showing?  Really, there is no reason to pick five months rather than three months or four months or six months, except that God who wrote the Bible, who gave us Revelation 9 and that period of five months, wanted to identify Elisabeth hiding herself for five months with that other period of five months.  And so she hides:

… herself five months, saying,

This goes along with the five months.  What she is going to say, it is identified with that five-month period.  In verse 25:

Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.

Yes, historically it has to do with the pregnancy.  She was barren and God is giving her a child.  But spiritually, in connecting it with the five-month period, God is letting us know that those five months of terror and horror on earth is a time when the believers, typified by Zacharias and Elisabeth, are given a promise by God.  He gave the oath and He remembers it.  He takes up His people into Heaven and the reproach is removed.  So for five months saying, as it says here:

… to take away my reproach among men.

Is that not wonderful, that God is letting us know that in Heaven, everything is joyous and beautiful and the people of God will be praising Him because He has remembered His covenant.  He has fulfilled the oath, He has completed His salvation plan, however you want to say it.  It all fits together that God is going to do this for His children during those five months.  Let us just look at one more verse.  Back in Isaiah 25, in Isaiah 25:8, it says:

He will swallow up death in victory; …

Swallowing up death.  I will read this from 1 Corinthians 15:54.  It says:

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

So it is saying when we get our new body, our new resurrected body (and when is that going to happen?  May 21, that is the day of the resurrection; it is the time of the rapture), at that point, “Death is swallowed up in victory.”  Then continuing in Isaiah 25:8:

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; …

Keep your finger in Isaiah and go to Revelation 7.  In Revelation 7, those that “came out of great tribulation” are serving God, in verse 15:

… day and night in his temple: …

And then it says in verse 17:

For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

So again, both of those things fit.  “Death is swallowed up in victory” on May 21.  The believers that were in Revelation 7, who “came out of great tribulation” it tells us, are now there serving God “day and night,” because there is still time in the world for five months.  And God is saying He will “wipe away all tears,” as it says here in Isaiah 25:8:

He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke …

That is the same word “reproach” that is used of Rachel, which we could show is the equivalent word in the Hebrew to the Greek in those places we were reading; this is the equivalent Hebrew word:

… and the [reproach] of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

See what God is saying?  When “Death is swallowed up in victory,” when His people are having all their tears wiped away (as Revelation 7 shows us, gives us that picture), at that point, “the [reproach] of his people” is removed from all the earth.  That is why, in Luke 1, God had Elisabeth hide herself for five months.  Not four-and-a-half months, not eight months, not six months, but five months because there are no coincidences in the Bible.  God does not use words randomly, happenstance, manner of way.  “Well, I will use five months in Revelation 9 and it just so happens I will use it in Luke 1 in association with Elisabeth’s pregnancy, and there is no relation.”  No!  There is a relation because it is the Word of God.  I think now we know why she is hiding herself and saying the Lord has taken her reproach.

Questions & Answers  (paraphrased)

Q. Leah had children from her handmaid and children from herself?

A. If you read the account, Rachel is giving the names to the sons of the handmaid and Leah is giving the names to her handmaid’s sons.  So it is similar to Sarah with Hagar.  And remember, she said in order to have a child through her handmaid Hagar, it was basically that kind of situation.  And then that child is counted for her mistress’s son.

Q. Is Rachel the one-third? 

A. Rachel is typified as the elect.  Her name means “a ewe” or “a lamb.”  Look at the relationship Jacob had with these two wives.  It says of Leah that she was hated because Jacob preferred, he loved, Rachel.  And so in a similar way, as God says later of Jacob and Esau, “Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated,” he hated in the sense that he did not love her like he loved Rachel.  He wanted to marry Rachel.  He did not want to marry Leah, but that was Laban’s idea; that was her father’s idea that he gave him Leah first.  And then Jacob worked a little longer for Rachel.

Q. So that means that a man cannot have two wives?

A. We know the Bible tells us that a man should have one wife, and the two become one flesh.  It has been that way since the beginning with Adam and Eve.  But man has sinned.  Now God allowed or permitted this sin in the sense that He did not refrain it in the lives of some of His people.  The biggest offender would be Solomon, but that is because God wants to illustrate some spiritual things, like how many people are part of the bride of Christ.  There is the Lord Jesus—He is the bridegroom—but He is going to marry spiritually a couple of hundred million people.  So in order to illustrate that it is not just God and one person, but it is a great number of people, He allowed, by removing His hand of restraint, for some of these men to marry more than one wife in order to paint that kind of a picture.  So Solomon had a thousand wives, of which the number “ten” points to the completeness of what is in view.  So those thousand wives (actually, wives and concubines) typify all of God’s elect people that He will eventually save.

Q. I heard on the Bible study on the air this morning about the multitude that cannot be numbered that is going into the Kingdom.  When they have the rapture, is that going to be more than two million people?

A. We do not know how many people are going to be raptured on May 21.  Now with the number two hundred million comprising all the elect throughout history, we do not know how many God saved in the past and how many He intends to save at this time.  We know the vast majority of them might be one hundred and fifty million, or one hundred and seventy-five million.  It might be one hundred and ninety-five million; I do not know.  But we will not know the number.  We will not know how many are coming out of the Great Tribulation.