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No Man Left Behind

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No Man Left Behind

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No Man Left Behind

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We are going to examine a core principle of the gospel message that is lost in today’s religious landscape. What we are talking about is very unique in the Christian community. The meaning of the Eighth Day observance is a true gem of understanding of which we must not lose sight.

Transcript

[Peter Eddington] Let me quote to you from the US Army Ranger Creed: “Surrender is not a Ranger word. I will never leave a fallen comrade to fall into the hands of the enemy. Under no circumstances will I ever embarrass my country.” And similar language can be found in the US Army soldier’s creed:  “I will never leave a fallen comrade.” And in the Airman’s Creed: “I will never leave an Airman behind.” The Latin version is the Motto of the Marine Corps Personnel Retrieval and Processing Company – the team charged with retrieving the remains of fallen service members from the battle field: “Never leave a comrade behind.” This is a noble and interesting concept that is part of the US Military and other Western nation’s Military Creed. It’s a notable idea that we will explore further here this afternoon.

And of recent times, the US President has vowed that no man will be left behind - referring to recent prisoners held in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Yes, it’s a noble idea, but it should be pointed out that it’s not one that is being very well fulfilled. Not all soldiers left behind have been rescued.  Joseph Douglas, Jr., who held positions in the Department of Defense and various National Defense Corporations, and who toured the Naval Post Graduate School, said that the US Government betrayed literally thousands of American POW’s and MIA’s who were left behind in Communist prisons after every war America fought in the twentieth century, from World War I to Vietnam. And in looking at the available research, Douglas concluded that as many as 2,000 Americans were left behind after the Vietnam War; 5,000 to 8,000 after the Korean War; 1,000 through the Cold War, and a staggering 15 to 20 thousand after World War II. 

The principle of leaving no one behind, no matter the cost, is deeply embedded in the US Military.  And those in uniform believe that “no stone will be left unturned” to get them home, if they fall into enemy hands. And this is one promise that spurs soldiers on to fight even harder for their country. One of the most dangerous but revered missions of the Vietnam War was the US  Commander’s attempt to rescue 65 American POW’s held at North Vietnam’s notorious Sun Tape prison. If you were there, okay…no you weren’t there, but you know it. 

A 116 plane air armada, composed of fighters, gunships and helicopters – 116 in the air – flew hundreds of miles of a mountainous terrain, at tree-top level, to the prison camp, which was just 23 miles from Hanoi, which was then one of the most heavily defended areas of North Vietnam. As the assault forces attacked the prison camp, killing more than 100 Vietnamese guards in the process, the raiders discovered that the prisoners had been moved. And they were forced to return empty handed. Yet, when the POW’s learned of the attempt, morale soared. And according to one report, the POW’s no longer felt abandoned or forgotten. And though unsuccessful, the raid illustrates the kind of extraordinary effort those serving expect their nation to make for them. 

How does this relate to our understanding of God’s plan of salvation?  Do you see any correlation or analogy that crosses into God’s Holy Day plan?  In today’s message titled “No Man Left Behind”, we go to examine a core principle of the gospel message that is lost in today’s religious landscape.  What we are talking about here today is very unique in the Christian community.  The meaning of the eighth day or the Last Great Day observance is a true gem of understanding of which we must not lose sight.  How many of you have heard of Matt Maupin?  Okay, these are people from the Ohio, Indiana area that recognize the name Matt Maupin.  He attended the Glen Este High School, just one quarter mile from our home.  Our oldest son, Camden, was in school with him. 

Matt Maupin joined the army in 2003.  He was involved in the Good Friday ambush of 2004, which was an attack by Iraqi insurgents on a convoy of American supply trucks, near the Baghdad International airport on April 9 during the Iraq war.  On that Friday, the Iraqi insurgents ambushed any and every convoy that tried to drive in or out of the Baghdad airport.  And the ambush of the 724th transportation company was the worst convoy ambush of the entire war.  No other transportation company suffered as many casualties in one ambush.  Twelve soldiers and four contract drivers were wounded; three contract civilians; and U.S. Army soldiers, Sergeant Elmer Krause and Private First Class Keith Matthew Maupin, disappeared. 

Hamill escaped from his captors and was recovered by U.S. forces 27 days later and Matt Maupin was held for an undetermined amount of time.  Maupin’s fate remained unknown until 2008, when his remains were found.  He had been executed awhile earlier.  Matt Maupin was the first American soldier missing in action during the Iraq war – right there down the road from where we live.  And he symbolized the risk and sacrifices all army truck drivers made during the war.  And after Maupin was confirmed dead in 2008, Interstate 275 in Clermont County, right by the Home Office, was officially renamed Staff Sergeant Matt Maupin Memorial Freeway, in his honor.

Our family has vivid memories of the four year search for Maupin.  His mother was a bus driver in Camden’s High School.  Vigils were often held outside the bus terminal next to our school; television cameras put it on the evening news time and time again.  And to this day the school fence has remind taken blazoned upon it, that everything will be done to bring an awareness of our soldiers missing or captured in action.  No man, dead or alive, will be left behind.

How far would you go to rescue a fallen brother?  What would be your response to the eternal needs of a fellow human being?  What would be God’s response…what is God’s response?  Well, the Holy Days we are observing right now give us the answer.  And as I said, it’s a message lost in today’s religious landscape.  What we are talking about is very unique in Christian understanding.  It’s a true pearl, a diamond of understanding of which we must not lose sight.  Go to II Peter 3:9 – turn to II Peter 3:9 for a moment, where Peter was inspired to write:

II Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is long suffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 

This is a wonderful passage to examine, because most people would tell you that if a person is not saved before they die, had not accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior, they will perish.  In fact, most churches teach that these people will burn in an excruciating hell fire for eternity.  And the number of such humans would number into the billions – lost forever.  To use the vernacular, billions left behind; Whereas, God wishes that no man be left behind, left out of His plan, not willing that any should perish.  The Princeton Religious Research Center estimates that six in ten Americans completely agree that the only assurance of eternal life is a personal faith in Jesus Christ.  According to the Barna Research Group, among adult Americans, 40% believe that those who do not accept Christ as Savior will go to hell.     
          
But perhaps the most well-known Scripture of all times, states:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  God so loved the world.  He considers us His future family; His children.  He wants to know us and dwell with us for eternity, forever.  It’s all about a Godly, divine relationship, with His human creation.  So we have to ask: How will all those men and women be regathered, so that few perish; so that they’re not left behind.  So they may be part of the divine family of God.  How will the rescue mission unfold? 

Let’s turn to John, Chapter 7.  Yesterday it was mentioned that I’ll probably turn to this on this day, and I said, yes we will, as I was sitting back there yesterday.  John 7…just notice verses 37 through 39. 

John 7:37 John 7:37In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.
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  On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.

Verse 38:  “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”   

Notice Verse 39 – He wasn’t talking about water.  He spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive.  For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, since Jesus was not yet glorified.  Christ’s message recorded here was most likely given on the seventh day of the Feast of Tabernacles.  And scholars vary on whether this was the seventh day or the day following, the eighth day.  But much evidence suggests that the events in John 7 describe incidents on the seventh day, while the setting moves to the eighth day in John, Chapters 8 and 9.   It’s also possible that Christ’s teaching recorded here in verses 37 through 39 came at the end of the seventh day or the very beginning of the eighth day, in the evening – since God’s Holy Days begin with sunset – and end at the following sunset. 

Because you see, that the chapter concludes with people returning to their homes for the night after sundown, then the next morning they come back to the temple again for more worship services.  You see the theme of Christ’s teaching continues into Chapter 8 and includes the offer of salvation to all of mankind again, which is the theme of the eighth day, or the theme of The Last Great Day.  Look at John Chapter 8, Verse 2:

John 8:2 John 8:2And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came to him; and he sat down, and taught them.
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  But early in the morning (or the next day, after the last day of the Feast) He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them.     

Some say, now this is the eighth day now. 

Verse 51:  “Most assuredly, I say to you, (He continues this theme) if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.”

What was the significance of Christ’s teaching about living water in John 7:38 John 7:38He that believes on me, as the scripture has said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
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, which is the Holy Spirit – He clarified as?  In Christ’s time, according to the tradition, during the Feast of Tabernacles, the week was just observed, the Priest’s would take golden vessels of water from the stream of Siloam that had flowed from the temple hill, and poured over the altar.  It was a ceremony they had during the Feast.  Buckets of water came down and they poured it over the altar.  And a Jewish celebration, along with the sounding of trumpets, marked the ceremony as people sang along. 

So then Jesus stood where all could hear Him, and He drew a lesson from the tradition – drew a lesson from the water ceremony that they had going on – revealing that all who were thirsty could come to Him and be refreshed forever – never seeing death.  And in Christ’s analogy, as I said, the water represented God’s Holy Spirit, that those who believed in Jesus would receive – John 7:39 John 7:39(But this spoke he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
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says they would receive it.  But here’s the question:  When would this happen?  Because within six months of this event, Christ’s own countrymen, his fellow Jews, pressured the Roman authorities to execute Him.  And you recall, that the disciples, after the crucifixion, went back to their jobs – they thought it was all over.  Less than forty years later, the temple and all its ceremonies, including those described there in John, were brought to an end, at the hands of the Roman authorities – you recall then, the temple was destroyed.

And since then, billions of people have died without repenting of their sins, without being baptized, without being filled with this living water, the Holy Spirit.  It certainly appears, they’ve been left behind in the ashes of history, doesn’t it?  Never rescued.  And so many churches today say that you have to chip Jesus– have missionaries going out; just to have them say the name of Jesus – something, before they die so they can be saved.  And today, humanity still hungers and thirsts for the message Christ brought. 

God’s promise to pour out His Spirit upon all flesh has not yet taken place – we know that –it’s very obvious.  Billions have died without the deepest spiritual need unrealized.  Notice Joel, Chapter 2, in the Old Testament.  This kind of goes along with the Chorale song as well.  Because they ask when will people be refreshed by the life-giving power of God’s Spirit?  When will those men left behind be rescued? Because God does not wish that any should perish – remember? 

Joel 2:27 Joel 2:27And you shall know that I am in the middle of Israel, and that I am the LORD your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.
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Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God and there is no other.  My people shall never be put to shame.

Verse 28:  “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;

So this is similar to what Christ was quoting, right? - At the water ceremony. 
Your sons and your daughters shall prophecy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions;

Verse 29:  And also on My men servants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days

So when are those days? 

Verse 30:   “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:  Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.

Verse 31:  The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.   

So it’s during the time outlined in Revelation as the heavenly signs – right before the awesome day of the Lord.  That is when the Spirit will be pouredout.  It’s when Christ returns. 

Verse 32:  And it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved

So, we understand that the Holy Spirit has not been poured out on all humanity yet; just to a few that God has chosen at this time.  But when we have the heavenly signs, when we have the day of the Lord and when Christ returns, it will be poured out upon all flesh.  When are those days? - At the return of Jesus Christ, after the heavenly signs.  And the symbolism of Christ’s teaching is that at a time yet to come, as we would say at the beginning of the Millennium, when Christ returns, all people will have the opportunity to understand the plan of God and to know Jesus Christ, and  receive that life-giving water, the Holy Spirit.  But, it will even extend to those who had already died before that – died without this understanding, as we will see.  And when this comes about, you and I will have the opportunity to be part of the rescue team.  You will help bring home these men and women who have died in the devils spiritual battle in this world - not the U.S. verses Afghanistan, or Iraqi insurgents, but in the spiritual battles of this world, that people have succumbed to; never having understood God’s plan of salvation yet.   

Have you heard of the Medal of Honor?  The President of the United States, in the name of Congress, has awarded more than 3,400 Medals of Honor to our nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guard’s men since the decoration’s creation in 1861.  For years the citations highlighting these acts of bravery and heroism resided in dusty archives, and only sporadically were printed.  But in 1973 the U.S. Senate ordered the citations all be compiled, gathered together from the last couple of hundred years and printed, as the Committee on Veteran Affairs report.  This book was later updated and republished in 1979. 
       
What does it take to receive one of these Medals of Honor?  Often it’s because a soldier would not leave a comrade behind.  Often it’s because of heroic efforts to save a life.  Let me tell you about Captain William D. Swenson, who was issued the Medal of Honor on October 15, 2013.  Here’s a quote from his citation - You can easily find it on line with a quick keyword search.  Let me read you his citation, at least parts of it, or most of it – here’s the quote:  “Captain William D. Swenson distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity.  At the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, while serving as embedded advisor during combat operations, is an armed enemy in Kunar Province Afghanistan, September 8, 2009.  On that morning, more than sixty well-armed, well-positioned enemy fighters ambushed Captain Swenson’s combat team as they moved on foot into the village of Ganjgal for a meeting with village elders.  As the enemy unleashed a barrage of rocket-propelled grenades, mortar and machine gun fire, Captain Swenson immediately returned fire and coordinated and directed the response of his Afghan Border Police, while simultaneously calling in suppressive artillery fire and aviation support.  After the enemy effectively flanked Coalition Forces, Captain Swenson repeatedly called for smoke to cover the withdrawal of the forward elements.  Surrounded on three sides by enemy forces inflicting effective and accurate fire, Captain Swenson coordinated air assets, indirect fire support, and Medical evacuation Helicopter support to allow for the evacuation of the wounded. 
Captain Swenson ignored enemy radio transmissions demanding surrender, and maneuvered, uncovered, to render medical aid to a wounded fellow soldier.  Captain Swenson stopped administering aid long enough to throw a grenade at approaching enemy forces, for assisting with moving the soldier for air evacuation.  With complete disregard for his own safety, Captain Swenson unhesitatingly led a team in an unarmored vehicle into the kill zone, exposing himself to enemy fire in at least two occasions, to recover the wounded and search for four more missing comrades.  After using aviation support to mark locations of fallen and wounded comrades, it became clear that ground recovery of the fallen was required, due to heavy enemy fire on helicopter landing zones.

Captain Swenson’s team returned to the kill zone another time, in a Humvee.  Captain Swenson voluntarily exited the vehicle, exposing himself to enemy fire, to locate and recover three fallen Marines, and one fallen Navy Corpsman.  The exceptional leadership and stout resistance against the enemy, during 6 hours of continuous fighting, rallied his teammates and effectively disrupted the enemy’s assault.   Captain William D. Swenson’s extraordinary heroism and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, to reflect great credit upon himself, Task Force Phoenix, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division and the United States Army.’’ 

Do you want to save the lives of fellow human beings?  Are you preparing yourself now, to join Jesus Christ, in rescuing the injured, the dying comrades of this world? - Because it is going to be billions of people.  Look at Romans, Chapter 11.  The Apostle Paul also referred to this yet future event.  Because you see, it’s not just when Christ returns at the beginning of the Millennium when His Holy Spirit will be poured out – it’s also at the end of the Millennium.  Romans 11:1 Romans 11:1I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
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– here Paul is writing to the Romans about all those who were not accepting Jesus Christ; those who hadn’t even believed, to the ones who crucified Him. 

Romans 11:1 Romans 11:1I say then, Has God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
American King James Version×
  I say then, has God cast away His people?  (The Jews murdered Him, after all.) Certainly not!  For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. 

Verse 2:  God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. 

Verse 26:  And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:  “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; (So all of Jacob will be converted.) 

Verse 27:  For this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

All of Israel will be saved.  And the descendants of Jacob, of course, are millions and millions of people from dozens of countries around the world right now.  However, amazingly – notice Romans, Chapter 9.  It’s not only Israel, but all who have never had a chance to drink from the living waters of God’s word and His Holy Spirit, will at last be able to do so.  Romans 9:22 Romans 9:22What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
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– kind of a question here:   

Romans 9:22 Romans 9:22What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:
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  What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,

Verse 23:  and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory,

Verse 24:  even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 

You know, what about the Gentiles? 

Verse 25:  As He also says in Hosea:  “I will call them My People, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not My beloved.” 

See Israel was known as the people of God.  He says those who were not called Israel, are going to become My people also. 

Verse 26:  “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ that they shall be called sons of the living God.” 

It’s the Gentile non-Israelite nations as well. It’s everybody – it’s the whole world that will eventually be called God’s people.  Not just the Jews; not just the twelve tribes of Israel.  But all will be called sons of the living God.  We know that’s not the case right now – this is a future prophecy.  God will freely offer all peoples the opportunity for eternal life.  And it comes about through a physical resurrection, to human life, after the Millennium.  Look at Revelation, Chapter 20 – it’s important that we go to Revelation, Chapter 20 and start in Verse 4.  John discusses here, under the inspiration from Jesus Christ, the same opportunity for salvation for all those who died, not yet saved.      

Revelation 20:4 Revelation 20:4And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark on their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
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And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them.  And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, - see, these are God’s people, right? - Who had not received the mark on their foreheads or in their hands.  And these people, (God’s people) they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

And Verse 5 says:

Verse 5:  This is the first resurrection.   

So the chosen, begotten people of God, are in the first resurrection.  And Verse 5 says:

But the rest of the dead – those not yet called, those who have not yet accepted Jesus Christ, repented of their sins – did not live again until the thousand years were finished.  At the end of the thousand years, people were brought back to life. 

Verse 6:  Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection. 

Why is it a blessing to be in the first resurrection?  For not only because you will be with Jesus Christ, helping to teach others the truth, but those in the first resurrection, the second death will have no power over – Immortality! 
The Church of God today is looking forward to receiving immortality, at the first resurrection:   And they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. 

So the thousand years, what we’ve been observing the whole week long, during the Feast of TabernaclesBut now on the eighth day, it has an additional meaning.  And this is what is lost on Christianity as a whole.  They’re out trying to save everybody now, not realizing that at the end of the thousand years, when the thousand years are finished, it says the dead will live again. 

Revelation 20:11 Revelation 20:11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
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  And here I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away.  And there was found no place for them.  

Verse 12:  And I saw the dead, small and great, - with God, you know, the rich, the wealthy, the successful, and the poor - all standing together – all standing before God, and the books were opened.  And then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.  And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 

This Book of Life means, this is the first time that these people have the opportunity to understand God’s plan of salvation.  The Book of Life is being opened to them, which as we know from the Garden of Eden, have been shut off to almost everyone, for the last 6,000 or more years – and the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.  So you get the Book of Life opened to you, get to read the Book, get to find out what it’s all about; you get to live your life and then be judged.  You’re not judged…these people want to judge when they died. 

Verse 13:  The sea gave up the dead which were in it, - those sailors lost in war; those lost in the Titanic – the sea gave up the dead who were in it – it’s not just the grave, it’s in the bottom of the ocean as well – And Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them.  So the graves’ opened – and they were judged, each one according now, to his works.   

The dead who stand before their Creator are all those who died never knowing the true God.  They finally have the tree of life, the Books of Life opened to them.  And this is where? - At the end of the thousand years.  Like Ezekiel’s vision of dry bones, that we’ve all studied about many times, in Ezekiel, Chapter 37, these people emerge from the grave as physical human beings, and begin to truly know their God.  By contrast, those in the first resurrection are raised to immortality – these people are raised to a physical life to be judged, and to be judged for the first time.  The Books (which is the Greek word, biblia, from which we get the word Bible) - The Books of the Scriptures; the source of knowledge; the word of God; The knowledge of eternal life.   And finally, all will have an opportunity to fully understand God’s plan of salvation.

When you look at the religious confusion in this world, of the thousands of Christian denominations, what about all the other religions?  The Buddhists, the Hindu’s, the Muslims, the Zoroastrians, the atheists – I mean everybody.  So many confused religious beliefs: the confused landscape of religion today, which actually makes it almost impossible to find God; the true God and His plan.

Jesus came to reveal the Father, and at this time people will truly come to know the Father.  It’s important to point out that this physical resurrection is not a second chance of salvation.  When we mention this on our Beyond Today program, or we have it in a Good News article, around the Feast of Tabernacles time, in the Good News, we get lots of letters, people condemning us for preaching a second chance.  This is not a second chance for salvation.  For these people it is their first opportunity to really know the Creator, to have the opportunity to have their sins forgiven, and to follow their Maker.  This judgement will involve a period during which they will enjoy the opportunity to hear, understand and grow, in God’s way of life.  And then they too, can have their name inscribed in the Book of Life.  You read that in Verse 15.  They too, will have their names inscribed in the Book of Life.  They too, then, after they prove themselves to God, will have immortality too. 

And during this time, thousands of millions, which is billions of people, will gain access to eternal life; for everlasting life.  This final festival of the year, this eighth day, or the Last Great Day as we have often called it, shows how deep and far-reaching are the merciful judgments of God.  As we saw in Revelation 20:11 Revelation 20:11And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.
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, it’s called the Great White Throne judgment – we’ve called it the Last Great Day.  Jude puts it well in Verse 6 when he writes: 

Jude 6:  And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, - this is the demons – He has reserved in everlasting chains of darkness for the judgment of the great day;

The Last Great Day when all this final judgment is going on.  Jesus Christ spoke of the wonderful truth depicted by this day, when He compared three cities that failed to respond to His miraculous works, were three cities of the ancient world.  The three cities of Jesus’ time were compared to three ancient cities.  And here’s the ultimate story of No Man Left Behind:  God remembers these fallen human beings of more than 5,000 years earlier.  The Vietnam War, for forty or fifty years ago…..Christ says, “I’m going to remember the fallen soldiers of 5,000 years ago.”  Turn to Matthew, Chapter 11.  These are our fellow human beings who died in the ugly battles of warfare, in the wars of the god of this world, Satan.  And we noted earlier that even with the best of intentions, the United States Military has not been able to recover every one of its soldiers.  In fact, tens of thousands, died missing.  In many of U.S. wars, fallen comrades have been left behind.  And while well intentions, it’s an imperfect plan.  But in contrast, the Plan of God is not only well intentioned, but perfect.  Every person who bows and repents before God will have the opportunity to receive salvation, even those who died first, without this knowledge.  They will be remembered and resurrected to this chance. 

Matthew 11:20 Matthew 11:20Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
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:
 Jesus began to rebuke the cities, in which most of His mighty works had been done, because they didn’t repent:

So this, God in the flesh, as we’d say, preaching to these cities, and they wouldn’t listen.  I guess we’d say, well if Jesus Christ were here today, we’d “listen up!”  Well, the record shows, a lot of people wouldn’t. 

Verse 21:  “Woe to you, Chorazin!  Woe to you Bethsaida!  For if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
Verse 22:  “But I say to you, Chorazin and Bethsaida, it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon, in the Day of Judgment, than for you.   

Verse 23:  “And you, Capernaum, (here’s the third city He tried to preach to) who are exalted to heaven…you think you’re great…will be brought down to Hades; for if the mighty works which were done in you had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.    

I wouldn’t have had to destroy it!  

Verse 24:  “But I say to you that it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the Day of Judgment than for you.”

It must have been a sinful society that He was preaching to.  The inhabitants of ancient Tyre, Sidon and Sodom, cities that had incurred the anger of God for their depravities, will receive mercy in the Day of Judgment, is what we’re told.  They will be rescued.  Those who died in Sodom and Gomorrah will be rescued – they’ll be brought home.  They’ll learn to repent and they’ll be offered the living water of God’s Holy Spirit.  This is what Revelation, Chapter 20 is talking about. 

Unlike Chorazin, Bethsaida and Capernaum, those cities of old, Sodom, Gomorrah, and others, had little opportunity to know God.  God will resurrect these people and include them in the time of judgment that is beyond the 1,000 year reign of Christ, when even those who lived in bygone ages will be reconciled to God.  And here, as Chapter 11 shows, that they will receive the truth with gladness and repent.  You can’t do that unless you’re brought back to learn the truth, for the first time ever. 

This is the wonderful gem, the wonderful message of this eighth day Feast.  It will be a time of universal knowledge of God, including the Gentile nations, as we read earlier – all of mankind.  I’d like to turn to Hebrews, Chapter 8 and read Verses 10 and 11. 

Hebrews 8:10 Hebrews 8:10For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, said the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:
American King James Version×
 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel:  After those days,” says the Lord, - Here’s the covenant -“I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts (Recall a week ago, Icalled that the Spiritual Heart Transplant!) and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 

These are people where He wasn’t their God; these are people who were Hispeople.This is all of the people – all nations.

Verse 11:  “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the lord,’ – no one will walk up to people in the street and say, “You need to know the Lord” - because all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.”

You see, the way of God will fill this planet.  The Spirit of God will fill the earth, as the waters cover the sea.  All will know Me, He said.  The citizens of these cities and countless more like them will experience their opportunity to salvation.  They will not be left behind in the dust of time.  The fact is, Ezekiel 37 shows the dust and the bones will come back together again, and life will go back into those bones, into those bodies.  And you and I will be part of the rescue mission, if we stay faithful, endure to the end, with there, upon Christ’s return, at the beginning of the Millennium, and as we then would see this through to the end of the Millennium, when all the dead will be resurrected, to be offered salvation. 

Let me share with you the story of Staff Sergeant Salvatore Giunta.  He was issued the Medal of Honor on November 16, 2010.  Here’s a quote from his citation: “Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself conspicuously by gallantry, at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, in action with an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley of Afghanistan, on October 25, 2007.  While conducting a patrol as team leader, Specialist Giunta and his team were never getting through harsh terrain, and they were ambushed by a well-armed and well-coordinated insurgent force.  While under heavy enemy fire, Specialist Giunta immediately sprinted towards cover and engaged the enemy.

“Seeing that his Squad Leader had fallen, and believing that he had been injured, Specialist Giunta exposed himself to withering enemy fire, and raced towards his Squad Leader – helped him to cover, and administered medical aid.  While administering first-aid, enemy fire struck Specialist Giunta’s body armor, and his secondary weapon.  Without regard to the ongoing fire, Specialist Giunta engaged the enemy before prepping and throwing grenades, using explosions for cover in order to conceal his position. Attempting to reach additional wounded fellow soldiers, who were separated from the Squad, Specialist Giunta and his team encountered a barrage of enemy fire that forced them to the ground.  The team continued forward, and upon reaching the wounded soldiers, Specialist Giunta realized that another soldier was still separated from the element.  Specialist Giunta then advanced forward on his own initiative.  As he crested the top of a hill, he observed two insurgents carrying away an American soldier.  He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other.  Upon reaching the wounded soldier, had begun to provide medical aid, as his Squad caught up and provided security.”

“Specialist Giunta’s unwavering courage, selflessness and decisive leadership while under extreme enemy fire, were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush, and recover a fellow American soldier from the enemy.  Specialist Salvatore Giunta’s extraordinary heroism, and selflessness, above and beyond the call of duty, is in keeping with the highest traditions of military service, reflect great credit upon himself, Company B, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, and the United States Army.” 

You, too, can act beyond the call of duty.  You and I will rescue our fallen comrades of this world.  And Satan the devil will be banished.  We will be bringing fellow human beings home.  The enemy will not prevail.  We will join Jesus Christ in insuring that no willing man will be left behind.  All will have the opportunity to repent.  Why - Because God wants to build His family, in a family relationship with us, and with all of humanity.

Let’s turn to John, Chapter 10 for a moment. - Notice Verses 27 through 30.  Christ says:

John 10:27 John 10:27My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
American King James Version×
 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 

He says: I know them.  He knows you and me.  He is developing a relationship with us.  We’re planning to be in His family.

Verse 28:  “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 

No enemy bullet is going to take these people away. 

Verse 29:  “My Father, who has given them to Me, (it’s like He’s talking about you and me right here) is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand either. 

Verse 30:  “I and My Father are one.” 

He wants us to be one, with the Father and with Him.  Let’s hold fast to the truth over the coming year.  Until we meet again at the Feast of Tabernacles, observing God’s Holy Day plan, for the best Feast yet!  Because we are heirs of God’s wonderful kingdom – we’re joint heirs together.  How seriously do we take this opportunity?  How seriously do we want…do we want to be part the ultimate solution, to mankind’s problems?  Do you want to insure, and help make sure, no man is left behind?  Do you want to be a leader and a teacher in God’s kingdom – king, priest, leaders and teachers?  Helping to instruct and bring God’s plan of salvation to others, through Jesus Christ. 

If we want to insure that we’re there to be part of the rescue team, we have to think about how we’re going to live over the next twelve months, so that we are still here, keeping the Feast in twelve months’ time, and not fall away.

Romans 8, Verse 11 – this is my final Scripture here –Verse 11 and 14:

Romans 8:11 Romans 8:11But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you.
American King James Version×
  But if the Spirit of Him (talking about the Father) who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwells in you. 

Verse 14:  For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. 

In this room right now, we have a nice congregation, a large group of people that are filled with God’s Holy Spirit.  We then, are, considered the sons of God.  And if we were to die, in the near future, filled with God’s Spirit, we will be there, and raised incorruptible.  We’ll be heirs of God’s wonderful kingdom, and give life to our mortal bodies. 

The annual Feast days are a time of happiness, not just because of their meaning for us, but because of the promise of hope for all of mankind that they bring.  Observing the Holy Days reminds us of God’s great love for humanity.  Worshipping Him in this way is a joy and a pleasure – we love the Holy Days; we love His Sabbath.  We love His Feasts.  And these festivals truly are a gift to God’s people.  What is our hope?  The hope of the resurrection, isn’t it?  What is the fate of those who died, though, with no real knowledge of Jesus Christ, the Son of God?  What hope is there for the billions of people who have lived and died without the knowledge of God and His purpose?  The hope is that no willing man will be left behind.  The Scriptures show that the world is not cut off without hope, as some would worry.  As God’s Holy Days portray, He will not leave them behind, but bring them back to life, give them an opportunity for eternal salvation.  And this is the astounding truth depicted by the eighth day, the last of God’s annual festivals.

So now we’ve got to go through the winter months that seem like some dark days at times – you need to take your vitamin D pills.  Not much sunshine sometimes, especially up north, where some of those crazy people live!  But now we’re planning for the next year, aren’t we?  We’ll leave here with a high hand.  We will be planning for the Passover.  And going back to this plan again, lest we forget…the Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets and Atonement, and then the Feast of Tabernacles and then The Last Great Day again, the eighth day. 

So, have a safe journey home – until we meet again.