The Biblical Map to Jesus Christ's Return

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The Biblical Map to Jesus Christ's Return

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You and I may take ordinary road maps for granted, but the history of mapmaking shows that ancient peoples carefully relied on their relatively primitive maps.

Noted author and professor John Noble Wilford wrote: “Before Europeans reached the Pacific, the Marshall Islanders were making stick charts. Sticks were lashed together with fibers to depict prevailing winds and wave patterns; shells or coral were inserted at the appropriate places to represent islands. When a Tahitian communicated his knowledge of South Pacific geography to Captain Cook by drawing a map, it was clear that he and his people were quite familiar with the map idea.

“Pre-Columbian maps in Mexico indicated roads by lines of footprints. Centuries ago Eskimos carved accurate coastal maps in ivory, the Incas built elaborate relief maps of stone and clay, and early Europeans drew sketch maps on their cave walls” ( The Mapmakers , 1981, p. 7).

The map idea

According to Wilford, cartographers agree that there is something fundamental about the map idea: “It is a basic form of human communication . . . Indeed, the term map is often used metaphorically to explain other types of knowing and communicating” (p. 13).

Wilford carefully explored the symbolic values of mapmaking: “In everyday conversation, the word map is used to convey the idea of clarification: someone maps out a plan or maps out his future” (ibid.). Later in this book he wrote, “Maps embody a perspective of that which is known and a perception of that which may be worth knowing” (p. 386). He makes a very good case that maps are excellent symbolic tools, communicating that which is so far unknown by that which is known.

But if an ordinary map can communicate a desired destination, could there also be a map for Christians to use to find their ultimate destiny in this life? Is there a plan already mapped out that would determine a sense of here in relation to there? The short answer is yes.

Would Almighty God, who has created the orderly, harmonious and self-regulating universe, create human beings—the only fully cognitive processing creatures on this planet—without planning and/or mapping out an ultimate destiny for us?

Not only is there a biblical map that can assist you in arriving at your ultimate destination, but that map is also the key to your spiritual survival. The map I speak of is both real and symbolic, a great communication tool in the service of humankind.

The Bible's symbolic map

Remarkably, the Scriptures are filled with basic symbolic maps that can and will lead you to true freedom and immortality. Ironically, millions of Christians have neglected to use the very biblical map that God has so freely given to them.

In fact, many mainstream Christians have ignored the basic biblical map leading to salvation and “penciled in” traditional pagan symbols instead. When you misread a map, a miss is as good as a mile.

For example, though God has clearly mapped out our salvation by way of the Holy Days He reveals in the Bible, religionists from time immemorial have changed God's symbols and replaced them with pagan ones. For instance, they have substituted modern religious holidays like Christmas and Easter for God's revelatory Holy Days.

No wonder humankind has consistently run into biblical dead ends or taken frustrating and confusing religious detours—rather than following the road to eternal life (Daniel 7:25 Daniel 7:25And he shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.
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). Let's briefly explore God's symbols, His annual Sabbaths in the autumn that mark out and point the way to immortality in God's coming Kingdom.

Our Creator has revealed seven annual festivals starting in the spring, each one depicting some great event in the ongoing mapping of God's salvation for humankind. However, this particular article will focus on and highlight only the four festivals that occur in the late summer and autumn of the year (in the northern hemisphere).

Each represents a decisive turning point in human history. The previous three spring festivals of Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost constitute personal responses to the workings of God in the people He calls and chooses during this age of man. The Bible calls them the firstfruits of God's salvation. (For a fuller discussion of all seven of these annual occasions, request or download our free booklet God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind .)

The Feast of Trumpets maps the arrival of Jesus Christ

The first autumn festival is the Feast of Trumpets. This biblical festival helps us understand why Jesus Christ must return and reveals how and what He will do when He arrives.

It also reveals what happens to His true followers, both those who are still alive and those who are “dead in Christ,” at His coming. Both are transformed immediately to immortal children of God (1 Corinthians 15:22-23 1 Corinthians 15:22-23 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the first fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
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, 42-44, 50-53). Jesus gathers His elect (see 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain to the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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), who will afterward follow Christ when He descends on the Mount of Olives (Revelation 19:14 Revelation 19:14And the armies which were in heaven followed him on white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
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; John 18:36 John 18:36Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.
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).

Historically, the Feast of Trumpets was first given to God's nation Israel (Leviticus 23:24 Leviticus 23:24Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall you have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
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). In that context trumpets were, and still are, symbols that indicated an alarm for war. Israel often blew trumpets to alert its army and regular population that battle was imminent. Consider the trumpets that were blown when God instructed Israel to conquer Jericho (Joshua 6). A blowing of trumpets signaled imminent battle.

The book of Revelation likewise shows blowing of trumpets in preparation for Jesus' return. The fulfillment of the Feast of Trumpets is loudly sounded in Revelation chapters 8 through 11 where the seven trumpets of God warn of major cataclysmic events. These trumpet blasts serve as the prelude to the seven last plagues of Revelation 16.

The Feast of Trumpets symbolizes the return of Christ, the most pivotal and well-mapped-out event in all of human history. When Christians celebrate the Feast of Trumpets, they are in a sense acting out in advance a great symbol of their salvation. (If you would like to understand the significance of these biblical prophecies in much greater detail, please request or download our free booklet The Book of Revelation Unveiled .)

The Day of Atonement maps Satan's removal

The Day of Atonement focuses on the future removal of the devil and his cohorts, powerful evil spirits unseen by the naked human eye, called demons. As agents of deception and baleful influence, they have been misleading mankind since the Garden of Eden (see Revelation 12:9 Revelation 12:9And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceives the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
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).

The fact that many today doubt the existence of evil spirits demonstrates the success of the deception. (For the absolute biblical proof, request or download our free booklet Is There Really a Devil? )

Through the book of Job, Scripture shows that Satan is personally involved with humanity. “And the Lord said to Satan, 'From where do you come?' So Satan answered the Lord and said, 'From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking back and forth on it'” (Job 1:7 Job 1:7And the LORD said to Satan, From where come you? Then Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.
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).

From this and many other biblical passages we see that Satan is intricately involved with humanity at large. Recall that when the devil offered Jesus Christ the kingdoms of the world, Jesus did not counter his rule over mankind. “Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, 'All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me'” (Matthew 4:8-9 Matthew 4:8-9 8 Again, the devil takes him up into an exceeding high mountain, and shows him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; 9 And said to him, All these things will I give you, if you will fall down and worship me.
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, emphasis added throughout).

The apostle Paul tells us that Satan is the god of this world and that he has blinded the minds of all humanity (1 Corinthians 4:4 1 Corinthians 4:4For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judges me is the Lord.
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). He began his deception with our first parents, Adam and Eve (Genesis 3:1-6 Genesis 3:1-6 1 Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said to the woman, Yes, has God said, You shall not eat of every tree of the garden? 2 And the woman said to the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: 3 But of the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, You shall not eat of it, neither shall you touch it, lest you die. 4 And the serpent said to the woman, You shall not surely die: 5 For God does know that in the day you eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and you shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. 6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also to her husband with her; and he did eat.
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; Romans 5:14-15 Romans 5:14-15 14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come. 15 But not as the offense, so also is the free gift. For if through the offense of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, has abounded to many.
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).

Thankfully Satan's destructive work on humankind will cease. Christ will remove the devil from the human realm for a thousand years at His return (Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
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; compare Romans 16:20 Romans 16:20And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen.
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). This major event is mapped out or symbolized by the Day of Atonement. Christians observe this unique biblical festival by fasting, drawing close to God and acknowledging their total reliance on Him (Leviticus 23:26-32 Leviticus 23:26-32 26 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. 28 And you shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29 For whatever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30 And whatever soul it be that does any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31 You shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings. 32 It shall be to you a sabbath of rest, and you shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even to even, shall you celebrate your sabbath.
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; Acts 27:9 Acts 27:9Now when much time was spent, and when sailing was now dangerous, because the fast was now already past, Paul admonished them,
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).

The reason God is going to remove Satan and the demonic realm from the human sphere is very clear: They are at the heart of all human troubles, pain, suffering, war and death. Without the destroyer, peace can break out on the earth (Isaiah 14:4-7 Isaiah 14:4-7 4 That you shall take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How has the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased! 5 The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked, and the scepter of the rulers. 6 He who smote the people in wrath with a continual stroke, he that ruled the nations in anger, is persecuted, and none hinders. 7 The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
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). Only then can humanity continue on the road to God's peace and prosperity.

The Day of Atonement keeps the path open for all humankind to experience the wonderful world tomorrow, the coming Kingdom of God! That time is symbolized by the joyous Feast of Tabernacles, the next stop on the road map to eternal life.

Feast of Tabernacles maps universal peace and prosperity

The Feast of Tabernacles is strongly symbolic of the great destination for humanity on the road to universal peace and prosperity. Yet that destination cannot be reached before the previous ones. There is a specific and orderly sequence of benchmark events that must take place for humankind to arrive safely at its ultimate destination. There are no shortcuts.

By way of a brief review, the Feast of Trumpets heralds the return of Jesus Christ, where He resurrects the dead in Christ and changes those Christians who are still alive (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: 17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
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; 1 Corinthians 15), and begins to remove all tyrannical governments (Revelation 11:15-18 Revelation 11:15-18 15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. 16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell on their faces, and worshipped God, 17 Saying, We give you thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which are, and were, and are to come; because you have taken to you your great power, and have reigned. 18 And the nations were angry, and your wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that you should give reward to your servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear your name, small and great; and should destroy them which destroy the earth.
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).

The next destination in God's master plan of salvation is the Day of Atonement, where Christ removes Satan and incarcerates him (Revelation 20:1-3 Revelation 20:1-3 1 And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. 2 And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, 3 And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal on him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season.
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). Only then can peace break out on earth (Isaiah 14:7 Isaiah 14:7The whole earth is at rest, and is quiet: they break forth into singing.
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; 11). This leads to the next step as represented by the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jesus will rule as the great Sovereign for 1,000 years.

Today Christ's disciples who understand the meaning of the symbols of God's step-by-step map of salvation keep the annual Feast of Tabernacles in anticipation of mankind's great future.

Throughout the earth, humanity will rejoice in unparalleled peace and prosperity. War, violence, deception, famines and all the other insoluble problems that plague mankind today will disappear from the earth (Isaiah 11:1-9 Isaiah 11:1-9 1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the LORD: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatted calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.
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; Micah 4:1-7 Micah 4:1-7 1 But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow to it. 2 And many nations shall come, and say, Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. 3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. 4 But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken it. 5 For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever. 6 In that day, said the LORD, will I assemble her that halts, and I will gather her that is driven out, and her that I have afflicted; 7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from now on, even for ever.
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). This war-weary earth will become a new Garden of Eden, beginning at Jerusalem and then spreading to all nations (Ezekiel 36:35 Ezekiel 36:35And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited.
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; Zechariah 14:16 Zechariah 14:16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
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).

Last Great Day maps salvation for mankind

During the autumn festival season, yet one major event follows the Feast of Tabernacles.

This destination on the biblical map that Christ has revealed to His saints has stupendous meaning. It figuratively shows the destination of all human beings who have ever lived from Adam's time to Christ's second coming.

It's called the Last Great Day, or the eighth day of the Feast. “On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation . . . It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it” (Leviticus 23:36 Leviticus 23:36Seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation to you; and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and you shall do no servile work therein.
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).

Keep in mind that as an ordinary road map has the appropriate symbols to depict the reality of destinations, so has God given symbols to show the reality of His major goals for humanity.

God's people are instructed to observe the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days, with the first day being a Holy Day (verse 34). Following is a final festival that represents the opportunity for salvation for all human beings who have ever lived not knowing nor really understanding God's truth. This involves a general resurrection to physical life, at which time Jesus Christ and His reigning saints will reveal the true path to salvation.

Let's notice two significant passages that help us understand this symbolic festival. “But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished … Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away . . . And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And 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” (Revelation 20:5 Revelation 20:5But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection.
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, 11-12).

The great white throne judgment described here has several symbolically significant meanings. It's great because of the billions of human beings who will be raised from the dead for their day of salvation. White refers to holiness and righteousness. Throne infers Christ's righteous rule. It's a time of judgment because these human beings are then judged or evaluated by Jesus Christ in mercy and compassion over a period of time (1 Corinthians 11:31-32 1 Corinthians 11:31-32 31 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. 32 But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.
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).

Another notable passage is found in the oft-misunderstood prophecy of Ezekiel 37. The valley of dry bones represents the whole house of Israel, all 12 tribes (not just the Jewish people although they are prominently included), who lived and died with no apparent hope. At this time, Christ will resurrect all human beings, Israelites and gentiles alike, all those who have ever lived and who never really knew God. They will be resurrected to physical life but offered His Spirit and the hope of salvation they never had (Ezekiel 37:11-14 Ezekiel 37:11-14 11 Then he said to me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. 12 Therefore prophesy and say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. 13 And you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and you shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall you know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, said the LORD.
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).

Though some will ultimately reject God and be lost—destroyed in a lake of fire (Revelation 21:8 Revelation 21:8But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and fornicators, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
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)—most will embrace Him and His ways, joining the saints in eternal salvation.

Jesus' return symbolized by the fall festivals

John Noble Wilford's quotes about maps certainly ring true when it comes to mapping Christ's return: “Maps embody a perspective of that which is known and a perception of that which may be worth knowing” ( The Mapmakers , p. 386). Maps “communicate a sense of place, some sense of here in relation to there” (p. 7).

The four autumn festivals can rightly be compared to great milestones for all of mankind, mapped out in advance by God in His Holy Bible. Each one comes in its own order and proper sequence, just as following an ordinary road map from town to town leads to a physical destination. But with God's map, the end result is the salvation of all humankind.

Most human beings today do not know or understand how to read and study the Bible. During this age of man, God's people are given the understanding to follow His map of the future leading to the coming Kingdom of God and beyond.

The grand ultimate destiny of humanity is to become immortal children of God the Father, younger brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, living and serving in the New Jerusalem and throughout the universe forever and ever (Revelation 21–22; Hebrews 2:8 Hebrews 2:8You have put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.
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; Deuteronomy 4:19 Deuteronomy 4:19And lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, should be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD your God has divided to all nations under the whole heaven.
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).

Understanding God's plan and purpose revealed in the pages of the Bible constitutes the map that the people of God now follow in earnest. However, responsibility comes with the God-given ability to read His map of salvation. Those who have the knowledge of God, sprinkled throughout a darkened global society, should rejoice in these festivals and help show the world God's way and His path to salvation for mankind. GN

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