I chose to write this phrase in an antiquated style because the phrase has become a cliche long extant, as it embodies an evident truth in thought and that is displayed in who and what we care about as we commonly experience this thing called life. It describes a maligned aspect of human behavior that has plagued us for centuries at a minimum and probably for many millenia.
We are further hurt by another behavior that we find in cliche: "The more you pay, the more it's worth"...
The bible warns us in Hebrews 2:3 that we are to avoid neglect with regard to all the elements of such a great salvation as we have been freely given, but regardless, certain aspects of that which we know tend to become familiar and common to us and our lower fleshly and soulish natures take over from there. Furthermore, we did not pay a thing for this salvation. Can we buck the tide of human history and refuse to let any of these treasures slip that we have been taught by the Holy Spirit, through dilligent study and attentive listening to gifted preaching?
I was doing some study in my 1599 Geneva (Toll-Lege Publishers) at 2 Thessalonians 2:4:
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God."(KJV)
I had that superb 1599 Geneva Bible (Toll-Lege Publishers) in my hands, so I went to take a look at the footnote for the verse: one of about 14,000 such in this version, comprised by some 300,000 words: many from first generation reformers like Calvin, Luther, Whittingham, Knox, Gilbey, Bullinger, Blake and Beza, along with whatever Tomson and Junius had to add from the second generation of reformers. It is, as such, the largest collection of Reformation era commentary in existence. Published, as it were, in Geneva, with some involvement from Calvin, but it is not, as they say, Calvinistic. I was stopped right in my tracks by that which I read: (EMPHASIS MINE)
"ALL MEN KNOW WHO HE IS that says he can shut up heaven and open it at his pleasure, and takes upon himself to be lord and master above all kings and princes, before whom kings and princes fall down and worship, honouring that antichrist as a god."
ALL MEN KNEW this in 1599. I made a check of my 1587 Geneva version that resides on my computer as a module of the freely available E-SWORD computer bible and commentary program and again, ALL MEN KNEW. Imagine: the Geneva Bible went through more than 150 editions from 1560 to 1640 and settled in the homes of more than 1.5 million FAMILIES, where it was READ and STUDIED by common men: men like me. Those who wrote these words in 1587 knew they were not writing to theologians, but to common men and women. They wrote these words to be studied and to be understood in HOMES. They knew that everyone to whom they were writing, down to the lowest peasant who could afford to buy a small Geneva Quarto; EVERYONE they could possible foresee who might read this scripture and this footnote KNEW with absolute certainty the IDENTITY of the person or persons; THIS ANTI-CHRIST whom this verse was referring to.
I was really taken aback by this. By the 1570's, Scotland had passed a law that the head of every Scottish household had to purchase and maintain a Geneva Bible in their home. This revealed TRUTH was absolutely common knowledge to them. This was totally familiar TRUTH to all of them. There was not any question about it. There was not even any opposition to it, unless you were wearing Roman Catholic blinders that automatically come to all those who practice any idolatry.
How then could this truth have been lost to the church as a whole; lost to the place where the common man today is expecting the fulfilment of this verse to be a blasphemous temple, replete with animal sacrifice, trampling upon our Lord's own sacrifice, to be rebuilt in Jerusalem and expecting that a charismatic politician will stand in it, declaring himself to be God? I sought the Lord on this and received an answer. Consider the reasoning of the Lord as He laid out these scriptures in succession:
2Ch 1:11 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king:
2Ch_9:22 And king Solomon passed all the kings of the earth in riches and wisdom.
Luk 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?
So we see that the true riches are the pearls of wisdom and understanding that God gives as touching this great salvation that we have freely received.
Mat 25:14 For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. ...
Mat 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: Mat 25:25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine. Mat 25:26 His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Mat 25:27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Mat 25:28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. Mat 25:29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. Mat 25:30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Clearly, the true meaning of the parable has nothing much at all to do with the proper investing of goods and money, but has everything to do with how we handle the true treasures of God: treasure we are warned not to neglect in Hebrews 2:3. We are warned that if we do not profitably employ those parts of the greatest treasure in existence, but we bury it in the ground, we will suffer a loss that could result in our being cast into outer darkness: a place that sounds quite hellish. So, we see that such a treasure, given by God but mishandled, will result in the taking away of such wisdom and understanding as had been freely given.
Mat 25:15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey. Mat 25:16 Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. Mat 25:17 And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two. Mat 25:18 But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
Let us now take note and understand by the Holy Spirit the true meaning of the differentiation in the number of talents that the Lord distributes to his servants. These are distributed to every man, according to his respective and several abilities; five talents and two talents being given to the men or women who have the greatest ability to write, preach, teach or expound. Those men who receive the one talent receive treasures of wisdom and understanding with respect to this great salvation that are common to all men. These are easy to be understood by all men, just as it is quite clear that, by 1587, all men to whom it was contemplated that the Geneva Bible would reach clearly understood the identity of the person or persons referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4.
Further, let us consider the simple truth that we have kings because the people want it so; we have popes because the people want it so; we have senior pastors because the people want it so. This blame is primarily laid at the feet of the common man. Yes, the Nicolatians are, by name, those who conquer or lord over the people, and they will have their expected end, but the lion share of the fault will fall upon the common man, as it has since the days of Samuel the prophet, who was told by the Lord:
1Sa 8:5 And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 1Sa 8:6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 1Sa 8:7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. 1Sa 8:8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 1Sa 8:9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.
I am not the first to note that the 1560 version of the Geneva Bible is blatant and explicit in naming the Papacy as the subject and object of many such scriptures as 2 Thessalonians 2:4. The 1560 version is still favored by many because of this very reason. This knowledge had become common and familiar by 1587: so familiar that no one even needed to explain it. Then, the contempt of King James arose and the Geneva Bible was legislated out of existence by Kingly order: it became a felony to own one. Generation passed to generation, and new Geneva Bibles became old and falling apart.
Eventually, the King James Version, with no footnotes to instruct the common man, reached the place where it became a greater seller than the Geneva Bible had ever been. When the time came that Puritans and Reformers had enough political power to revise and update a Geneva Bible, they failed to do so. They did not care enough to hold on to the truth that had been a common and familiar thing only a few generations previously. And so, even that which they knew was taken away by God, and they were all given over to an understanding of scripture that was of Roman Catholic origin: false down to the very corrupted root of it. This is where we find ourselves today.
We encourage ourselves in the Lord that He has a remnant and He will bring about the restoration of all things to that remnant: even the restoration of wisdom and understanding that which at one time was held as a common treasure by all men, great and small, but which was taken away by God because it was treated as a common thing, not treasured, but soiled and trampled under foot and forgotten with the encroaching sands to time.
So, if you have eyes to see and ears to hear, listen to what the Spirit sayeth to the churches.
Stephen L. Bening
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"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by EVERY WORD that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" Matt 4:4
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