BY: LARRY HODGES
“These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile; for they are without fault before the throne of God.“ – Revelation 14:4, 5
DEATH HAS BEEN CALLED MANY THINGS IN SCRIPTURE
It is referred to as the king of terrors, as sleep, as being gathered unto the fathers, as destruction, as perishing as well as other things. Without controversy is the assertion that mankind universally fears death. “For as much as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He (Jesus) also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.“ –Hebrews 2:14,15
This particular scripture yields an interesting bit of information to us. Several bits in fact. First it tells us that Jesus destroyed at Calvary him that had the power of death (Satan – rendered him useless) and we are told in the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ that He now has the keys of death and the grave. As Christ is unveiled in us, He is revealed to have those keys – in us! Destruction, as it is commonly used throughout scriptures, does not mean what it does in our modern usage. It denotes a rendering useless. The Greek word used is “katargeo” and it means literally, the total and complete cessation of all activity; idleness.
But we are also given another bit of important information in this verse. We are told that Jesus was able to do this not by avoiding death but actually through death! “Who in the days of His flesh, offering both petitions and supplication with strong clamor and tears to Him Who is able to save Him out of death, being hearkened to also for His piety, even He also, being a Son, learned obedience from that which He suffered.“ – Hebrews 5:7 Concordant Literal New Testament Translation. The truth is, death and the devil have been rendered null and void by Christ’s work at Calvary! This is a reality in those to whom the Holy Spirit has quickened it. It is not so simply because the Bible states it. The Spirit must make it alive to us and in us. Things are often said out of zeal for which there is absolutely no spiritual authority whatever to utter. They are true; the Bible states them, but the hour of their unsealing and manifestation has not arrived.
But we now live in the time when the hour of their unsealing has arrived, and these things shall indeed be made real in a people. Christ has not only abolished death, but we are told very plainly that He will put the last enemy under the members of His feet. “For He must be reigning until He should be placing all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy is being abolished: death. For He subjects all under His feet.“ – I Corinthians 15:25-27. CLNT Because He has destroyed the devil and rendered him powerless at Calvary, He shall also accomplish it in His members. As surely as He placed death under His own personal feet, He has also placed death under the feet-members of His mystical Body.
As most already know, the Head always comes forth first in any normal birth. The last part of the body to come forth in a normal birth are the feet. It is so where the members of the Body of Christ are concerned. Those being birthed into the kingdom in these last days are the feet-members and it is under them that Christ Jesus shall place death.
This, of course, brings us fully into the picture as God goes about qualifying those who are ordained to the Melchisedec priesthood. Let us be sure about one thing. This priesthood is not gained through works or zeal or revelation knowledge but is according to the election of grace. You may believe you are not worthy to be included in this priesthood. If you do, I agree with you! No one is worthy based upon his own merit, but we have been called and are being equipped in Christ Jesus to be a part of this priesthood. It is a priesthood after an endless power or life. That means that those entering into this priesthood shall do so upon the ground of resurrection! The first resurrection. That’s an interesting aspect of qualification – resurrection.
The Bible clearly states that we shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed. I believe we are going to have our attitudes about death altered, as well as our definition of it. Death is more than merely the cessation of breath. Life is more than the ability to breathe. Man was originally alive before he ever took a breath. He was originally created in God’s image and likeness – as spirit. Then God formed man and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul with a body through which he has been able to give expression of himself. Man is essentially still a spirit; he lives in a body and he has a soul. Our life is largely bound up in “our will”, in doing things our way. The life God offers us is to be received in exchange for “our will.” The prayer, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done,” is a very revealing prayer. It reveals that where the will of God is, the kingdom of God is also and where the will of God is not, the kingdom of God is not.
“These are they which were not defiled (uncorrupted) with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God” —Revelation 14:4,5. The Spirit seems to go to extraordinary lengths to tell us who and what these are who stand without fault before the throne of God and His piercing, all-seeing gaze. 1. They are not defiled with the soulish (women/mind). 2. They are virgin (pure and uncorrupted). 3. They have actually followed the Lamb everywhere He has gone and everywhere He continues to go–even into death! 4. They are not their own to do with as they will, they have been bought and apparently they realized this. 5. They are firstfruits unto God and the Lamb, so they are peculiarly the Lord’s. 6. There is no guile in their mouth – they do not speak one thing with their mouth and another with their life. They walk the word. 7. They are without fault before the throne of God–all there is for the searching, all-seeing eye of God to behold in them is Christ, the work of His own hands. An entirely New Creation! The first thought of God toward man, carried forward by the precious, faithful Holy Spirit to its full fruition in fully redeemed man!
The truth is, we may sing lustily that where He leads us, we will follow. We may well sing that we’ll go with Him through the garden, and that we’ll go with Him through the judgment, but He went farther; He went also into death. Are we willing to follow Him wherever He went? If we are, then it will first mean our own garden of Gethsemane, our own yielding of the will in absolute utterness. The 144,000 firstfruits, undefiled virgins followed Him whithersoever He went – even into death!
But it is not as though we could do this in any supposed strength or determination of our own. Rather, because He has already gone this way as our example, we have both the commission and the authority to do so in His strength and grace. Who do the priests who stand in Jordan at Israel‘s crossing into the promised land typify? Do they merely typify Christ in His person but not in His members? In order for Paul (and those in his day) to preach the gospel, he must be ready to yield his life at any time, due to the violence with which it was resisted by the Jews, and in one instance we have every reason to believe he actually did yield up his life. So much violence did he meet with that he was able to say that he and those who preached the gospel in that day were “always delivered unto death, for Jesus’ sake, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our (their) mortal flesh.“ – II Corinthians 4:11. These men and women very literally “stood in the place of death” and remained there.
These men and women were as fearless of Death as David was fearless of Goliath. They, without any more armor or protection against Death than David had against Goliath, marched right into the very teeth of Death and challenged it. Death, so far from being the great Goliath and king of terrors, where mankind in general is concerned, now became the very means, since Calvary, says Jukes, of the salvation of the soul and the redemption of the body. Every chaos is but the prelude to a New Creation.
I Corinthians 15:51, 52 says that at the time of the “last trump” those who hear it shall live, shall be changed, “the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” There is more needed here than merely being alive when some phantom horn is blasted out of the heavens and all who happen to be alive at that time and hear it shall live. It’s not that kind of trumpet! There have been many trumps sounded which have not been heard by those who were alive at the time of their sounding. Even within the Church. There have been messages declared in the Spirit, which some simply have not had ears to hear. One must be just where John was when he heard the voice of God declaring to him the revelation of Jesus Christ – in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.
But we now live in the time of the final message that is delivered to the true Ecclesia, and I am persuaded that it is at this time that the Holy Spirit gives the called-out-ones a living understanding as to what is required for the complete redemption of the soul. A message shall come forth by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit with a sound, a ring to it that has never before been heard by the spirit of man. When this happens, they that hear (willing to walk it–the Bible definition for “hear” is to obey; until you obey the message you have not heard it) shall be changed. Since it is a function of the soul to will (our spirit also has a will – reference “your spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak”), it is in the area of the will/soul that we shall find ourselves tried at this time. The ultimate yielding of the will is the laying down of one’s right to life.
No sooner does the soul come into at-one-ment and agreement with the spirit than the body is redeemed, because the body is merely a servant. It will follow the soul wherever the soul leads it. (This is somewhat enlarged upon in our book, “The Election of Mann.”) This is the marriage of soul and spirit, the redemption of the body.
“The Lord said unto my Lord, ‘Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.’
“‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. The Lord hath sworn and will not repent, ‘Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.‘” – Psalm 110:1-4
The Lord is told here to sit until His enemies (the last of which is death) are made His footstool, or until they are put underfoot. This can only be after Calvary and His out-resurrection from among the dead. The Lord is assured by His Lord that His people shall be willing in the day of His power. When is that? “The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ (that is, of His whole Christ–the body as well as the Head); and He shall reign for the age of the ages” – Revelation 11:15. It is that day when He manifests His power in the earth to the bringing into subjection all the kingdoms of the world, first in His people and then in the earth. This Scripture seems to settle forever any question of upon what basis the Melchizedek priesthood is established, either as to Christ’s person or as to His members. It is solely upon the ground of resurrection!
Neither His throne nor the “rod of His strength” shall be shared with an old, somewhat improved version of Adam’s creation. It is reserved alone for that Creation which has fearlessly snatched the keys of death and the grave, burst asunder its destructive bands in the might and strength of its Head and is now prepared to stride forth in this strength to loose all who are appointed to death. This is written for the generation to come (the 42nd generation – the generation of Christ). It is to take place when the Lord builds again Zion – when He appears in His glory. Hence, the works of the devil are completely destroyed, and in so doing He has used the very instrument (man) for his destruction that the devil so maliciously sought to destroy in the first place. It’s just like the Lord to do that!
This article brings before us those who are said to be virgin because they are undefiled with women (the soulically-run churches) or, on the individual level, the soul itself; but they are virgin because of another reason also. We have shared from time to time how the woman of Revelation 12:5 represents the “virgin” Church out of whom a remnant is birthed into a higher realm in God which is that of governing authority. But there is an even higher level on which this particular Scripture (Revelation 12:5) may be understood. This woman so clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, is none other than Virgin Wisdom herself – the spouse of God who was with Him in the very beginning as He brought forth all things (All that God has ever done He has done through wisdom).
Adam, being made in God’s likeness and image had his female in him, as did God. When Adam denied his sufficiency in God alone to bring forth in and of himself, but looked without himself for his alter-ego, he, in effect, looked away from God and was found to be in spiritual adultery, and so his virgin wisdom fled from him. All those coming forth into the Melchisedec priesthood shall be birthed from the womb of Virgin Wisdom as much as was Jesus. (I speak these things in a purely allegorical and metaphorical manner.) Wisdom shall be justified of all her children!
“And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” – John 6:40. The manner in which we have taken this scripture is that if we have everlasting life then why would we need to be raised up at the last day? Obviously “everlasting life” does not prevent the putting off of the mortal body. “And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which He hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
“And this is the will of Him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
“No man can come to me except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
“Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” – John 6:39, 6:40, 6:44, 6:54. It seems incredible that the Lord repeats the same thing four times–I will raise him up at the last day. It can only mean that this phrase carries with it a very meaningful import. Whoso eateth my flesh and drinketh my blood hath (Arthur Burt says, “hath means, ‘got it'”) “eternal” life; and I will raise him up at the last day, makes little logical sense to most of us. That is because we almost universally feel that if we have eternal life, then we don’t need to be raised up at the last day, we’re not going to die! But the fact that this phrase is used four times seems to indicate that even what the KJV calls eternal life can still put off the mortal body. For the word eternal, as used in the KJV does not mean endlessness. The Concordant Literal translation says this, “He who is masticating My flesh and drinking My blood has life eonian (the life of the age – it has nothing to do with length of life but rather with quality of life) and I shall be raising him in the last day.” Once again, the KJV misleads us as to the true meaning. But even though the sense carried by the word translated in the KJV as eternal has nothing to do with length that life happens to be an endless life which the putting off of the body does not interrupt!
The truth is, as we read the 6th chapter of John, we are nowhere given to believe that death, as we know it, is to be evaded or avoided. When these verses are correctly understood, we are made to believe, that even though death should overtake us before the sounding of the last trump, it cannot hold us! He who is the resurrection will raise us up! There is a resurrection in sight, and it is ours by right. The ultimate truth is, death has been swallowed up in Christ’s life, and this life has been freely given to the saints of the Most High and is that life by which they now live!
When Jesus called to Himself the twelve apostles, He was calling to Himself a new priesthood. This priesthood was to follow Him everywhere He would go – even into death; even into Jordan. This priesthood, bearing the true Ark, Christ in His presence, has stood in the place of Jordan/Death some 2,000 cubits/years removed from us. All that awaits is for some to confront Jordan/Death to find that the place where Jordan/Death overflowed is now become dry ground – no Jordan, no Death! Jordan has lost its water, Death has lost its sting and the Grave has lost its victory!
As these who were doing in type what we are to do in reality stepped into Jordan/Death, they found the truth to be that Jordan had fled and was not there. We find, upon confronting death with only the presence of the Lord, that Death is not there. It has fled! Fled because the Ark, Jesus, has overcome death. I tell you, we stand this day, early in the morning of the third day, in just such a place and “Truly the Lord hath delivered into our hands all the land: for even all the inhabitants of the country do faint because of us” – Joshua 2:24. Death has been abolished, repealed, annulled, invalidated, nullified, deleted, canceled, terminated, erased, voided, rolled back for those willing to believe it! And those who entered Jordan/Death first shall be last, and the last shall be first to enter. Hallelujah!!
It was not because of the priesthood that Jordan fled but because of the Ark they bore. It is not because of us that death flees but because of the Treasure thus far hid in this earthen vessel, Christ in you! Has it never occurred to you that in each and every case of deliverance wrought for God’s people by the mighty God, that He has first whittled away the numbers (as with Gideon’s three hundred) in one way or another, until it was obvious that if there was to be any deliverance for Israel (God’s people), it would have to come from the Lord? Any time we find ourselves in a life-threatening situation, be it sickness, disease or any other threat to our life, the moment we enlist the help or aid of another means to effect our deliverance, we have, in effect, signed our death warrant. We have also, in effect, recanted what we claimed to believe.
Oh, we may well pull through at the time, but you may rest assured that we will not escape Jordan‘s eventual chilly waters. We have many times been spared temporarily so that we may later come to the understanding that we must take Him alone as our Deliverance. We must make the Lord our only help, our only means, our only strength and power so that if He doesn’t meet the present requirement, we are defeated and all is lost! So long as we entertain an alternate, backup plan, another means to our deliverance waiting in the wings just in case He does not move for us, He will not move for us. We must trust Him unreservedly with the attitude of, “If I perish, I perish!” and in the attitude of, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” It is undoubtedly the place in which Jesus found Himself when in the garden of Gethsemane (the winepress) just before His death and resurrection. It is the place where the five wise virgins purchased the oil with which to go out to meet Him. It is the place of the ultimate yielding of our will for His will. Every son must eventually come to this place!
If we are truly living in that time which the Bible so often calls, “the end of the age,” then mightn’t we be living in that time when Jordan/Death overfloweth all his banks? For we are very clearly told that Jordan/Death overfloweth all his banks in the time of harvest, and we are just as clearly told in Matthew 13 that the harvest is the “end of the age”. In other words, Death is everywhere in the time of harvest, in the time of the end of the age. It seems amazingly coincidental that a third part of mankind (2,000,000,000!) are slated to be slain at that time when Death shall be risen up out of its banks and be in everybody’s back yard. At just such a time and in just such circumstances God has ordained that a people put death, the last enemy, underfoot. It must here be inserted that another level of understanding as to the slaying of of mankind can also apply to us individually in the inner realm. Man is comprised of three parts: body, soul and spirit. The slaying of a third of us may well be the pouring out of our soul unto death (as Christ Jesus did), as God deals with our will.
The year 2,000, with all its computer ills and malfunctions seems tailor-made to usher in the millennial reign of Christ on the earth. For, make no mistake about it, the world will not end regardless what happens to society and its computers. Life will go on, somewhat altered perhaps, but it will nevertheless go on. If World-Wars I and II did not “end the world,” then surely Y2K will not end but merely alter it.
We are told that upon the sounding of the sixth angel, a voice was heard from the horns of the golden altar (of incense) which is before God (on the day of atonement it stands behind the veil before the Ark) saying, “Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates. And the four angels were loosed, which were prepared for an hour, and a day, and a month, and a year, for to slay a third part of men. (There is presently a world population of 6,000,000,000. A third of that number is 2,000,000,000.) And the number of the army (by which a third of mankind was to be slain) was 200,000,000″ –Revelation 9:14-17. What we are here told is that something which the reasoning mind (the great river Euphrates) had long hindered and bound up was loosed when the Lord dried up the great river Euphrates, so that the way of the “kings of the east” might be prepared.
Who are these “kings of the east”? The east is the direction of the sun-rise or the rising of the Son. It speaks of the resurrection and those kings who shall reign with Him who is the resurrection. Their “way” is resurrection life, which is the life by which every one who is of the Melchizedek priesthood lives–that life which is after an endless power. On one level of understanding this is who the kings of the east are. On another level of understanding which pertains to the outward realm, they could be the Chinese army which is 200,000,000 strong today. Our concern is not about the outward realm but about the inner. Even though we are and should be aware of what is happening in the outward realm, our life exists in the kingdom of God and all that really concerns us is within. That something is true in the outward does not negate nor take away from the validity of its truth as it pertains to the inner. It actually confirms and strengthens it. It validates it.
If flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, then whence and why all the effort toward the maintenance and preservation of the natural body, which, we are told, is but bare grain? “For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this house we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened; not that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.“ – II Corinthians 5:1-5. And this all takes place while we look not at the things which are seen (the outward), but at the things which are not seen (the inner)!
There are many reasons why we sometimes fail to see the full picture, or when we do see it we fail to see it clearly. I suspect that not the least of which is because we automatically see and think of things from within the context of our own life’s experience and our own lifetime. Even men like Nebuchadnezzar knew that we have such tendencies and that it only took a very short time in captivity before a new mindset would replace the old as everything was seen from the position of captive, of slave, of “well, it’s been this way all my life, so this is just the way things are.” But those who had lived before the Babylonian captivity knew better. It had not always been as it was now.
For instance, we often consider the scriptures from the framework of our own experience, and I do not say that this is fundamentally wrong or that we ought not do that. I do say, though, that we sometimes do not hear the Voice of the gentle Holy Spirit when He speaks things which do not fit within that specific framework. For instance, we often do not think of “the Church” as any more than what we know of in our experience today. We do not commonly think of all those who have already passed through life and to the other side as being a living part of the Church. Oh, if we’re put to the test we will probably all give the right answers, but we normally do not think in such terms.
To us, the Church is that universal body of saints who have been blood-bought and Spirit-filled who are alive somewhere in the earth today. We just have not looked at or, for the most part, even considered that the true Ecclesia, the one that Christ Jesus purchased unto Himself two thousand years ago, stretches all the way back to father Abraham! (Even Adam will also finally be included, but I’m speaking of a living, appropriating faith) Just as we have long reached back by faith to appropriate the benefits of a crucified and risen Christ, these all reached forward in their day to embrace the Christ and those benefits derived from Him.
We have read and have believed what the Bible clearly says about there being only one Church or, as it is stated in Ephesians 4:4, “one body.” But we seem to have automatically thought of that one body as being “the one still living on the earth.” The one still living on the earth! See, that’s just the point I wish here to make. We think of that portion of the Body that has passed on before us as being dead! It is not! Jesus is not the Head of a disjointed body, part of which is dead. He is the Head of a living, vital, vibrant body whose feet members are on earth but whose head and shoulders reach unto the heavens. His Church is verily the gate of heaven!
If Jesus is the Head of the whole Ecclesia (the called out) and not of a part of it, then where is the type in the Old Testament? At that time when the Israelites crossed into Jordan there was a priesthood, which had been prepared to bear the ark of the Lord. Jesus is represented by that ark. That priesthood is the twelve apostles who bore the presence of Christ Jesus in a very real and living way. They bore the ark of the living testimony! For nearly 2,000 years now they have stood in Jordan/Death. They have not made a move to come out of Jordan and cannot come out until all the firstfruits people are crossed over! They stand and wait in the midst of Jordan/Death and cannot come up from thence until a people who have been appointed the assignment of breaking man’s appointment with death have done so.
They all, though they have indeed obtained a good report, have not yet received the promise – resurrection life, that life which is after an endless power. God, in His infinite wisdom has provided something better for them to look forward to so that until we confront and overcome death, their assignment cannot be concluded. The Bible says it this way; “And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect” – Hebrew 11:39, 40. The last shall be first and the first shall be last.
DEATH UNDERFOOT [Larry Hodges] 1