Jun 272020
An Election within an Election

An Election within an Election

Is membership of the one Body co-extensive with salvation?

We are sure that there is sufficient in the Scriptures to warrant the belief that the reception of the truth of the Mystery is subject to an elective purpose of God, operating within the wider election unto salvation, and we feel that this present volume (Dispensational Truth – Charles H. Welch) would be incomplete did we omit this very important phase of dispensational truth. Others before us have had the impression that this is so, but have been hampered by not realizing that the present dispensation did not begin until after Acts 28; consequently they have spoken of an inner election to the ‘headship’ of the one Body. This is the result of including the Body of 1 Corinthians with the Body of Ephesians. We believe that our enquiry will lead us to see that membership of the one Body itself is the object of this elective purpose.

There is another system of teaching with compromises with those who perpetuate undispensational doctrine and observances, believing that we who see the truth of the Mystery should not expose the error of the traditionalists. We might as well extend our charity and encourage the Jew in his legalism. It is not for us to assume the sovereign prerogatives of God. Having seen the truth, we must ‘leave . . . and go on to perfection’. We have to be concerned with faithfulness, even though it should limit the sphere of our so-called usefulness.

Some may object at the outset to the idea that the Lord may have chosen some (from among those who are saved) to a peculiarly exalted position. These would doubtless have joined Miriam and Aaron in their resentment against the special call of Moses (Num. 12:1-14), but they would have ‘perished in the gainsaying of Korah’ if they had continued in their rebellion against the high calling of Moses and Aaron (Num. 16:1-9). Or further, they would have murmured against the exclusive choice of Peter, James, and John to be witnesses of the Transfiguration (Matt. 17), yet their murmurings would not have altered these facts. It must ever be borne in mind, lest we be ensnared with pride, that the elective purpose of God have no room for ‘good works’.

  • ‘When Rebecca also had conceived . . . It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger’. Why?
  • ‘For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth’ (Rom. 9:10-12).

Human responsibility must never be slurred over, but we are convinced that our God is one ‘Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will’. Human error and satanic guile may be responsibility for the eclipse of the truth of the Mystery all down the present age, yet of this we are certain, that none who were predestined by that unalterable counsel of God to ‘come to a knowledge of the truth’ could fail to receive it. Hence we are driven to the conclusion that the time has come when the Lord intends to strip from our eyes the bandages of tradition, and from this time onward to take the grave clothes from many believers who have been marked off to receive the truth so long hidden beneath the rubbish of Christendom’s conflicting creeds. The Lord has already given the life-giving command, ‘Come forth!’ and the liberating command, ‘Loose him, and let him go’ (John 11:43,44). We believe that ‘the knowledge of the truth’ of the Mystery is only attained by those who are the subjects of this ‘election within an election’. They have received no revelation, they possess no new Bible, and they claim no special holiness or learning: the truth lies upon the page of Scripture possessed by all alike, yet apparently seen by few.

Is membership of the one Body co-extensive with salvation? May a man be saved, and yet have never received a knowledge of the truth of the Mystery? These are questions to which we hope to give Scriptural answers as we proceed. In order to manifest more clearly the difference between ‘faith’ (common to all believers), and ‘knowledge’ (possessed by the subjects of this special grace), we venture to lay before the reader the arrangement of the opening verses of the epistle to Titus. It will be seen in the suggested structure (1) that ‘the faith of God’s elect’ is described under the member C, d, e, f, and (2) ‘the knowledge of the truth’ under C, f, e, d.

Titus 1:1-4

A a Paul (Name). b A servant of God, an apostle of Jesus Christ (Title). c According to (1) faith (the faith of God’s elect); (2) truth (the knowledge of the truth).

B According to godliness.

C d Upon hope of eternal life. e Promised by God Who cannot lie. f Before age-times. [[Faith. — Believed by those who are called ‘Calvinists’.]]

C f Manifested in its own seasons. e His Word by heralding. d Entrusted to me. [[Knowledge. — Denied by most of those so called.]]

B According to the command of God our Saviour.

A a Titus (Name). b Mine own son (Title). c According to a common faith.

It is clear that we are not saved according to our knowledge, yet it is quite certain that none can really believe, hope for, and suffer together with, that which they neither know nor understand. Many have believed with ‘the faith of God’s elect’ who have been hopelessly confused concerning the right division of truth. Men like John Calvin, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, or of more recent times, Joseph Irons, and Charles H. Spurgeon, have been stalwart champions for the faith of God’s elect, but if we examine them upon the next item (the knowledge of the truth), they evidence a lack of agreement which leads to confusion. With them kingdom and the church, Israel and the one Body, Abrahamic promise, Zion, and the earth’s regeneration are all spiritualized away, yet one of those to whom the knowledge of the truth has been given would think for one instant that they were better than these men of God named above.

The faith of God’s elect is explained as comprising three items (see structure, member C). It has before it:

  1. the hope of eternal life,
  2. which God, Who cannot lie, promised,
  3. before the age-times.

These items are enlarged upon in the writings of the great Reformers and Puritans. The knowledge of the truth is explained in a twofold way;

(a) it is closely connected with ‘godliness’ (a term which we shall examine shortly), and (b) this truth has:

(i) a peculiar season for its proclamation, which is now, the present dispensation;

(ii) it is heralded or proclaimed by the word and words given to …

(iii) the special apostle of the Mystery . . . Paul.

Orthodoxy makes no distinction between the proclamation announced in Pentecostal days, or ‘gospel’ times, and the present period; it starts its church at Pentecost, and seeks to rule it by Matthew 18. As to recognizing Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, his epistles might as well have never been written, for the place which they are given in its meditation of preaching. If a ‘text’ or a ‘reading’ is wanted, the Gospels, the Acts, the Psalm, etc., are chosen again and again, whereas Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Timothy, and Titus are practically a dead letter.

Before passing from this passage we would like to call attention to the word translated ‘godliness’. The word is eusebeia, and occurs 15 times in the New Testament. Fifteen is 5 (grace) x 3 (divine perfection). The Pauline epistles contain 10 of these 15 occurrences, stil emphasizing 5, the number of grace. The average idea of godliness goes little further than piety, but the word means much more than this conveys to the English reader. It embraces the larger meaning of worship, and may be rendered ‘the act or state of worshipping well or acceptably’. Just as euaggelion means good message, and eudokia, good will, so eusebeia means good worship. Worship to be good must be in harmony with the will of God in reference to the dispensation obtaining for the time. Good worship once demanded the offering of the blood of bulls and goats, but that would not be acceptable now. Good worship once was accepted only at the Temple at Jerusalem, but such is impossible now.

If we read the literature of many of the ‘bodies’ of Christendom, we shall hear many echoes of the Samaritan woman’s words (John 4:20); it is all about where we may or may not worship . . . the Lord’s reply seems to be overlooked. He disposes of both the Samaritan and the Jewish centres, and tells us that ‘God is Spirit, and they who worship [[this is not the same word as is translated ‘godliness’]] Him must worship Him in true spirituality’. While so many sorrow over the so-called worship which must have its solos, living pictures, politics, ethics, etc., they themselves are often involved in a system of bondage to ceremonies, observances, ordinances, and traditions, perpetuating that which belongs to another dispensation, and failing to offer that worship which is in harmony with the time now present. Those who ‘resist the truth’ ate in the context brought into close connection with those who suffer persecution for living in harmony with godliness or proper worship.

This failure to appreciate the spiritual character of the present dispensation is the secret that lies at the root of the bitterness that occurs among those believers who retain any regard for the Word of God. Zealous for God, but not according to the knowledge of the truth, they have instituted a miniature Popery, the ‘central act of worship’ is made an occasion of harshness worthy of a Diotrephes (3 John 9,10), and the true ‘place of worship’ is unrecognized. Worship to be acceptable must be offered where the great High Priest is. That is entirely independent of place, denomination, or circumstance; many have been received into fellowship there who would ‘defile’ some assemblies on earth. ‘Heaven itself’, the true ‘Holiest of all’, is the one place of worship worthy of the name. From that assembly none can excommunicate. The binding and loosing of man has no effect there.

We have often felt, when we have heard of some believers who are called ‘over-sight’ brethren, that the word ‘over-sight’ has more than one meaning, and that while many have been keen over trifles comparable to the tithing of pot-herbs, the weightiest matters concerning the unity of the Spirit, and worship consistent with the dispensation of the Mystery, have been ‘overlooked’.

In 2 Timothy 2 and 3 we read of two classes. One class, to whom the Lord may ‘peradventure give repentance to the knowledge of the truth’, and another, who though ‘ever learning never come to a knowledge of the truth’ (‘knowledge’ and ‘acknowledge’ in Titus 1:1; 1 Tim. 4:3 (verb); 2 Tim. 2:25 and 3:7 are the same). The first passage occurs in a setting which is of the utmost importance, especially just now. The arrangement of the passage (2 Tim. 2:14-26) is as follows:

2 Timothy 2:14-26

A 14,15. a Strive not. b Study. c Rightly divide the Word of truth.

B 16. Shun. C 17,18. Illustration, ‘Canker’. D 19. The sure foundation. C 20,21. Illustration, ‘Vessels’. B 22,23. Flee . . . avoid.

A 24-26. a Not strive. b Instruct. c Knowledge of truth, and recovery from snare of the Devil.

It is important that we should realize the purpose of this structural arrangement. It is not merely to excite our curiosity; it is for our instruction. The central member (D) is the important one, and should be studied first. It tells us that in the midst of all the trials and perplexities of this pilgrimage, God’s sure foundation standeth. Let those who are troubled remember that and take courage. The door of heaven has not been closed by the shutting of a meeting place; access it still free there.

The foundation of God has connected with it (like a seal) the words. ‘The Lord knoweth them that are His, and let every one that nameth the name of the Lord depart from iniquity’. These words are found in a most significant passage in the Old Testament, and supply the key to unlock the whole of the context. The moment we turn to Numbers 16 we shall see that it is directly connected with the ‘election within an election’, and will throw light upon the much-discussed ‘vessels unto honour and dishonour’. Korah and his company rebel against the thought that Moses and Aaron should be favoured with higher privileges than they were, and expressed their feelings by saying:

  • ‘Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the LORD?’ (Num. 16:3).

Moses does not ‘strive’, but falls upon his face. He then speaks to Korah in the words of 2 Timothy 2:19:

  • ‘Even to morrow the LORD will shew who are His‘ (Num. 16:5, cf. the Septuagint with 2 Tim. 2:19 Greek).
  • ‘Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you (sons of Levi) from the congregation of Israel — and seek ye the priesthood also?’ (Num. 16:9,10).

Just before the terrible judgment fell upon Korah and his company, Moses uttered the words which form the second portion of the seal of 2 Timothy 2:19, ‘Depart I pray you from the tents of these wicked men’. Surely we can see that the Lord intends us to use this passage in interpreting 2 Timothy 2. The very ones resented the special choice of Moses and Aaron were themselves specially chosen out of the congregation of Israel. They rebelled against ‘an election within an election’.

On either side of the sure foundation we have the members marked C and C, Hymenaeus and Philetus on the one hand, and the great house with its various vessels on the other. We must exercise care here lest we miss the Holy Spirit’s meaning. In the first case we have teachers of error, whose word eats like a gangrene. Are the vessels unto dishonour to be reckoned as typifying the same? Much depends upon the force of the little word ‘but’ in verse 20. The injunction had been, ‘depart from iniquity‘ and lest by over zeal the believer should think that such a title could not possibly mean a fellow saved one, the apostle reminds him that ‘in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earthenware, and some indeed to honour, and some, on the other hand, to dishonour’. In other words, he must be prepared to find within the circle of electing grace two classes.

Some will have, by grace, received a knowledge of the truth, while others, though saved, never get beyond the faith of God’s elect. All such will ‘live’, but all will not ‘reign’; some will be ‘denied’ this ‘honour’. It is interesting to note here that Timothy’s name is suggestive, as it means ‘honoured of God’!

Interpreted in the light of Numbers 16 this passage indicates that in the present purposes of God there are some who have been chosen out from the mass of believers; that they have had the eyes of their heart enlightened, that they may know what is the hope of His calling, and the truth of the Mystery, while others are left in the traditions of Christendom, saved, yet not so free as they would be did they but ‘know the truth’ (John 8:32). Orthodoxy has no room in its creed for ‘one star differing from another star in glory‘, neither has it place for the words ‘more tolerable’ in its conception of future punishment. In order better to illustrate that those under the heading ‘iniquity’ are not the ‘vessels unto dishonour’, we will turn for a moment to 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 7:1.

Both 2 Timothy 2 and 2 Corinthians 6 have been misused. From both of these passages Christians have drawn arguments about ‘being separate’ from differing Christians, and have not hesitated to use the words ‘unclean’, ‘defiled’, etc., of those who have been accepted by the Lord. Those who have been urged to ‘come out from among them‘ do not seem te have had enough courage to dare ask to whom the word ‘them’ referred, but have helped on the heart-breaking work of judging one another. The context gives a fearful list as the answer, namely, ‘unrighteousness’, ‘darkness’, ‘belial’, ‘infidel’, ‘idols’ (verses, 14-16). Are these God’s description of His erring children? Such an interpretation is but a murderous, ‘say now Shibboleth’. The true interpretation is lost in this party zeal.

2 Corinthians 6:17,18 is not an exhortation to believers, but is a complex quotation from the Old Testament which supplies the exhortation of chapter 7:1, ‘Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved (!) let us cleanse ourselves‘, etc. It is not so humiliating to be busy cleaning others, and removing the motes from their eyes, but dearly beloved, ‘let us cleanse ourselves‘. The verb ‘to cleanse’ (2 Cor. 7:1) and the verb ‘purge’ (2 Tim. 2:21) are kindred words. So also is the exhortation; he is to purge himself.

Two very distinct words are used in 2 Timothy 2. Regarding ‘iniquity’ the believer must ‘depart‘ (the word is very emphatic, and is literally (‘apostatize’), but regarding the vessels unto dishonour, he is to ‘purge himself’. The word ‘dishonour’ needs a little explanation. To the English mind dishonour signifies some positive shame, whereas the word atimia means ‘lack of honour’. This can be seen in 1 Corinthians 12:23, ‘those members of the body which we think to be less honourable‘ (atimotera). The figure of a vessel suggests the theme of our chapter — election. ‘Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump, to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto no honour?’ (Rom. 9:21). ‘That the purpose of God according to election might stand’ (Rom. 9:11). The vessels unto ‘no honour’ are those who have never received ‘the knowledge of the truth’, and who are not among those who, like Paul, look forward to the ‘honour’ of ‘reigning’. We will speak more definitely of this later.

The last two verses of 2 Timothy 2 tell us of some who are in the snare of the devil, and that they will ‘oppose themselves’ to those who bear the message of liberty and glory. The servant of the Lord does not strive, he is a vessel of gold or silver, he lets ‘the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth’ if they will. He seeks grace to be ‘gentle toward all, apt in teaching, bearing up under injury and malice (2 Tim. 3:12), in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves, if God perhaps may sometime give them repentance unto a knowledge of the truth, and that being taken alive by Him, they may awake from the snare of the devil unto His (God’s) will’ (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

Will the reader refer to the structure of this passage given on page 284; the first and last members will be seen to answer one another. In verses 14 and 15 we find the injunction not to ‘strive’ about words, while in verse 24 we have the commandment not to ‘strive’ with opposers. He who ‘instructs’ (verse 25) has ‘studied’ (verse 15), but the lesson of lessons for us is that ‘the knowledge of the truth’, which delivers from the snare of the devil, and marks one out as a ‘vessel unto honour’, is the rightly divided the Word of truth (verse 15). Here is the secret of faction and strife. Satan not only opposes the Bible as a whole, but lays a snare for the earnest believer, traps him into undispensational practices, blinds his eyes to the ‘glorious gospel of Christ’ (2 Cor. 4:4), and the truth of the Mystery, and makes him a tool in his destructive work.

Persecution and religion go hand in hand. Timothy is prepared to receive hard treatment at the hands of those who ought to have received him with open arms. 2 Timothy 3:12 has been shorn of its true meaning. ‘All who are willing to live godly in Christ Jesus (or in a manner consistent with the present will of God regarding worship) shall suffer persecution’. Some Christians suffer persecution by their endeavour to live in harmony with the ‘Sermon on the Mount’. They read this verse, and find consolation and confirmation, but this is not the meaning of the passage.

In 2 Timothy 3:10,11 Paul has made reference to the ‘persecutions’ which he endured, particularly mentioning those which came upon him at Antioch, at Iconium and Lystra. Why does he specially mention these cities? Why not Jerusalem? The reason is that Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra are associated with a ministry fulfilled in absolute independence of Jerusalem and the Twelve, and also that the Scripture intimates that it was at Lystra that the apostle, being stoned to death, was ‘caught away to paradise’ and saw the visions, and heard the words which related to the glory of Christ and the present dispensation of the Mystery. Let those who claim consolation from 2 Timothy 3:12 be consistent. Let them follow Paul in his separate teaching, then they will be entitled to the solace of this passage. The endurance of hardship is repeated several times in relation to the special truth committed to the apostle:

  • ‘Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel’ (2 Tim. 1:8).
  • ‘The gospel: whereunto I am appointed a preacher (herald), and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. For the which cause I also suffer these things’ (2 Tim. 1:10-12).
  • ‘Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and the things which thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same entrust thou to faithful men, such as shall be competent to teach others also’ (2 Tim. 2:1,2 author’s translation).

This true exclusivism disposes of nine-tenths or more of so-called teachers, for they do not even know that Paul had any distinctive message to be passed on.

The apostle continues, ‘Thou therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ’ (verse 3). Then again, after speaking of the gospel which he calls ‘My gospel’, the apostle says, ‘wherein I suffer hardship, as an evil doer, even unto bonds . . . Therefore I endure all things for the elect’s sakes, that they may obtain salvation, (verses 9 and 10); yes, but not only salvation, ‘that they may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with age-abiding glory‘. There is no need for us to begin speculating as to the difference between this salvation and the added glory, for the apostle immediately explains, ‘if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him’. This is ‘salvation’; this embraces every believer, whether he has ‘the knowledge of the truth’, or not. ‘If we endure we shall also reign with Him’. This is the added ‘glory’ and ‘honour’. ‘Living’ is one thing, reigning is another. All who reign will live, but not all who live will reign.

The Lord has been pleased to arrange that the present ‘light affliction, which is but for a moment’ (connected in this epistle in a special manner with the teaching committed to Paul), shall ‘work for us as a far more exceeding age-abiding weight of glory’. Some, maybe, will say, This is works, not grace. One thing we know, and that is, it is Scripture, and further, if the Lord had never told us of this high glory we still could not have resisted the truth when He made us see it, but we should have endured affliction sooner than give it up. Shall we say hard things then, if the Lord is pleased to add more of His riches of glory upon those who for a short season are called upon to suffer together with His despised Word?

In this dispensation of the Mystery there is no bema (or judgment seat); the dividing that will separate believers will be their attitude towards ‘the testimony of our Lord’ through His servant Paul.

Believers will either receive the truth and look forward to reigning, or will reject the truth and be denied this honour. ‘If we deny Him (if we are ashamed of the testimony of our Lord and Paul His prisoner), He also will deny us’. This in no wise touches eternal life, for ‘if we are faithless, He abideth faithful, for deny Himself He cannot’.

We can now proceed a little further. Both Paul and Timothy looked forward to a crown, which confessedly symbolizes reigning. The apostle charges Timothy:

  • ‘Be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering (cf. 2 Tim. 2:24-26), and doctrine. For there will come a season when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires will, unto themselves, heap up teachers, (because) they have an itching ear, and from the truth they shall turn their ears away, and unto myths will they be turned aside’ (2 Tim. 4:2-4 author’s translation).

Here we have the prophetic picture of our own days. The evil started as recorded in 2 Tim. 1:15, ‘All they in Asia are turned away from me’, and necessarily it ends with the words, ‘turn away from the truth’. Does the reader wonder why God has laid upon the hearts of some of His children the burden of this rejected truth, and this rejected apostle? Turning from the contemplation of these false teachers, Paul addresses Timothy:

  • ‘But thou, be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist (cf. Eph. 4:11), the ministry that is thine complete’ (2 Tim. 4:5 author’s translation).

The apostle’s approaching death is the reason for this final charge. There is no more Scriptural warrant for ‘evangelistic succession’, than for ‘apostolic succesion’, the last word in ministry being 2 Tim. 2:2, ‘teachers’. Continuing we read:

  • ‘for I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the season of my release has come, the noble contest I have contested, the race I have finished, the faith I have kept, henceforth there is laid up (same word in Colossians 1:5, “the hope laid up in the heavens”) for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will render unto me in that day, and not to me only, but unto them also that love His appearing‘ (2 Tim. 4:6-8 author’s translation).

The hope of the Mystery is to be received up in glory. ‘When Christ, Who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory’. ‘Looking for that blessed hope and the appearing of the glory’. Those who look for the parousia, or who expect to pass through the tribulation, must not be surprised if they miss this ‘crown’, especially if, by ignoring this special messenger Paul, they are found ‘denying’ (2 Tim. 2:12), and ‘ashamed’ (2 Tim. 1:8).

In 2 Tim. 2:5,6 there is another reference to a crown, ‘If moreover any man contend even in the games, he is not crowned unless he contend according to the rules. The husbandman must labour, before partaking of the fruits’. To obtain the ‘glory’ and to ‘reign’ (2 Tim. 2:10-12), the believer must ‘keep the rules’. The truths of other dispensations will not suffice. We must regulate our worship, our witness, and our warfare according to the teaching of the epistles of the Mystery, of fail. We must:

  • ‘lay aside every weight, and the easily entangling sin, and run wit patience the race that lies before us, looking off unto Jesus, the Prince-leader and consummator of faith, Who for (anti, over against, or corresponding to) the joy that was lying before Him, endured a cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God’ (Heb. 12:1,2 author’s translation).

This crown, this race, make us think of the ‘prize’ of Philippians 3. The realization of ‘an election within an election’ will throw great light upon that chapter. Brethren, do you see you calling? If so, ‘walk worthy’ of it. Let the potsherds strive with the potsherds of the earth if they will.

  • ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are (were) called in one body; and be ye thankful’ (Col. 3:15) . . .

By Charles H. Welch – from out of DISPENSATIONAL TRUTH: or The Place of Israel AND The Church which is His Body IN The Purpose of the Ages.

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‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons’ (Acts 1:7)

The sure word of prophecy, is to the believer, something so vitally linked with the truth of Scripture, and the faithfulness, sovereignty and omniscience of the Almighty, that it cannot be thrust aside, misapplied, or manipulated to suit private interpretations, but must ever be the subject of reverent enquiry, and wondrous expectancy. The prophet Isaiah to quote but one O.T. writer uses this fact or prophetic pre-vision as an antidote to the snare of idolatry into which Israel was at that time so prone to fall, and also employs it as a positive encouragement to faith.

  • ‘Produce your cause, saith the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them bring them forth, and shew us what shall happen: let them shew the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods’ (Isa. 41:21-23; see also 43:9; 44:7,25,26; 46:10; 48:5).

Those who have learned to distinguish between prophetic fulfillment and the present parenthetical interposition of the dispensation of the mystery, do not look at the present cavalcade of ‘wars and rumors of wars’, or the recurrence of ‘famines, pestilences and earthquakes’ as ‘fulfillments’ of prophecy, they see clearly that when Israel became Lo-ammi ‘not my people’ (Hosea 1:9), the prophetic clock stopped (Acts 28:28), and will no go again until the present parenthetical dispensation is completed. That is one attitude, an attitude of heart and mind that honours both the Wisdom of God in making known the secret purpose of His will consequent upon Israel’s failure, and the literal and sure fulfillment of the Word of Prophecy when the times comes for Israel’s awakening, conversion, restoration and blessing.

Speaking generally concerning prophetic interpretation, whether to do with Israel or to do with the prophetic utterances of 1 Timothy 4 or 2 Timothy 3 and 4 (which comprehend practically all that is prophetic in the prison epistles), there are two main principles to remember.

  1. The time, season, day and hour of prophetic fulfillment is hid. ‘ . . . It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power’ (Acts 1:7); ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only’ (Matt. 24:36); ‘Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh’ (Matt. 25:13).
  2. While the day and the hour is unknown, there aresignsthat the believer shoulddiscern‘. ‘ . . . When it is evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: for the sky is red . . . ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?’ (Matt. 16:2,3); ‘Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see these things, know that it (He) is near, even at the doors’ (Matt. 24:32,33).

Let us, in this introductory article, become a little better acquainted with these two complementary principles: ‘Which the Father hath put in His own power‘ Acts 1:7.

This passage is translated in the R.V. ‘Which the Father hath set within His own authority’, and as a marginal reading adds ‘or appointed by’ for the word ‘set’. Some interpret this passage to mean, that the Father hath appointed the times or seasons by His own power, but others see that the words mean that the question of times and seasons has been placed by the Father within His own jurisdiction or authority.

The word translated ‘power’ in Acts 1:7 is the Greek exousia. ‘Power’, should be reserved for the translation of dunamis as in Acts 1:8, the use of the same word for both Greek words is confusing. The apostles received power, but the Father retained authority. Dunamis is derived from ‘ability’, but exousia is derived from ‘being’. For examples taken from the A.V. where exousia is translated ‘authority’, see Matthew 7:29; 21:23; Acts 9:14; 1 Corinthians 15:24. The verb tithemi ‘put’ in Acts 1:7 of the A.V. means literally ‘to place’. It is used in Acts some twenty-three times, and is translated ‘laid’, ‘whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple’ (Acts 3:2, and six other occasions). The other passages in the Acts where tithemi is translated ‘to put’, refer to ‘prison’ (Acts 4:3; 5:18,25; 12:4). Other translations in the Acts are ‘to make’; ‘to conceive’; ‘to purpose’; ‘to give’ as counsel. In the epistles it is rendered in addition to these, by such words as ‘to set’; ‘to commit’; ‘to appoint’ and ‘to ordain’. The idea of authority is evident in every reference. The phrase ‘in His own authority’ can be interpreted in the light of the same Greek words found in Acts 5:4 ‘was it not in thine own power?’ or as Moffatt freely renders it ‘and even after the sale, was the money not yours to do as you pleased about it?’ Not only has the Father complete jurisdiction over ‘times and seasons’ but the specific ‘day and hour’ when the Son of Man shall come is not even known by ‘the angels’ although they may ‘desire to look into these things’. In Mark 13:32 we have a fuller and more comprehensive statement:

  • ‘But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father’.

Even after the resurrection, the Son is represented as seated at the right hand on high ‘henceforth expecting’, so completely have times, seasons, days and hours been reserved to the authority of the Father.

In the face of such statements, all attempts to calculate, forecast or otherwise anticipate ‘the day and the hour’ are alike foredoomed to failure and contrary to Scripture. The reader may very well repudiate the attempts that have been made to arrive at the date of the Second Coming by ‘Pyramid Inches’, he may, moreover, have acquaintance with such an abortive attempt as that the Dimbleby, who by the Zodiacal Circle, the Eclipse Cycle, and the Solar Cycle, ‘proved’ that the Times of the Gentiles ended in 1898 1/4 (In 1897 richtten Joodse leiders uit de hele wereld, na een oproep van Theodor Herzl, de Zionistische Wereldorganisatie op … GJCP) and that the Millennium started in 1928 1/4, a colossal set of calculations which only stand today as the monument to his misdirected energies.

Another basis for calculation, and one that claims the attention of the believer in the Bible as the book wherein is unveiled the purpose of the ages, is that which sees both in the opening chapters of Genesis, and in subsequent types and shadows, the warrant to believe that the present age will last 6000 years. There is in this view much to be commended, the danger lies in yielding to the temptation by the use of analogy to forecast dates. We have one such attempt open before us, as we write. In this computation, the days that are to come will be as it was in the days of Noach, when the Son of Man is revealed (Luke 17:26-30) and these days are dated A.D. 1938-77, the interpretation of the ‘revealing’ of the Son of Man is given as that Christ is revealing Himself to His people for 40 years before the fall of Mystic Babylon in A.D. 1978. ‘With the Munich crisis in 1938’ says the writer, ‘we entered upon the last forty years of the Time of the End’ (Dan. 12:9).

When we examine the chronology of this writer, we discover that the dates the going forth of the commandment (Dan. 9:23) from Darius’ first year (Dan. 9:1), whereas the Companion Bible dates the going forth of the commandment from the 20th year of Artaxerxes (see Neh. 2:1). The date of Artaxerxes is given in the Companion Bible as 454 B.C., and the date of Darius is given by the writer whose work we are examining as 483 B.C., a discrepancy of 29 years, fully accounted for in Scripture, as the 483 years reach to the ‘cutting off’ of the Messiah, whereas the calculations before us make the 483 years end at the birth of the Messiah. He then adds another 30 years to the commencement of the Lord’s ministry, and so arrives at his conclusion that the age will end the 6000th year from Adam in A.D. 1977. It certainly would have been awkward to have made the 6000 years end 30 years earlier, namely in 1947 (op 29 november 1947 ratificeerde de Algemene Vergadering van de Verenigde Naties het voorstel van UNSCOP met 33 stemmen voor, 13 tegen bij 10 onthoudingen … GJCP), for that would have written Ichabod (see 1 Sam. 4:21) across the whole attempt.

We write with no unsympathetic spirit of this patient endeavour to piece together the pattern of the ages, but taking our stand with the Scriptures already quoted, can only feel sorry that another abortive attempt should be made by a confessed child of God. The recognition that the day and the hour of the Lord’s return is hidden with intention by the Lord, by no means forbids an intelligent reading both of the Scriptures and of the signs of the times. These are as clearly indicate in Matthew 24:32,33,38 and 39, as the attempt to compute the date is forbidden in Matthew 24:36. We will next examine these ‘signs of the times’ more carefully.

The Valley of Dry Bones (Ezek. 37) (2)

We have given our reasons, both from the positive statements of Scripture, and by the sad attempts of believers, for refusing to accept, or to attempt for ourselves, any computation of times, ages, analogies, astronomical data and the like, that would ‘prove’ that the Second Coming of Christ must take place on any specified date. Wo do not, however, minimize either the importance of that great event, or set aside those passage of Scripture which encourage a survey of the signs of the times. The children of Issachar, are commended in the book of the Chronicles, for they were men ‘that had understanding of the times’ and consequently knew ‘what Israel ought to do’ (1 Chron. 12:32). True understanding of the times, therefore rather than leading to a dreamy inefficiency, does the very reverse. Only those who have an understanding of the times can know what should or should not be done. The Saviour rebuked the men of His generation because they were not able to discern the signs of the times, but the context shows that foretelling the date of prophetic fulfillment was not implied. Deductions as to the weather were drawn from the character of the sky. The words of our Lord, in Matthew 16:2,3 find an echo in the proverbial rhyme:

  • ‘A red sky at night, is a shepherd’s delight, But a red sky in the morning is a shepherd’s warning’.

The challenge of the Lord is that these men ‘discerned’ the face of the sky, but were unable to discern the signs of the times. The ‘discernment’ is the exercise of the judgment, with especial regard to ‘things that differ’. Diakrino the Greek word so translated implies differences (Acts 15:9; Jude 22), and a balancing of pros and cons before coming to a conclusion, hence diakrino is also rendered ‘doubt’ and ‘waver’ (Rom. 14:1; Matt. 21:21; Jas. 1:6). There is therefore nothing blind, fanatic or mistic about the discerning of the signs of the times but a careful balancing of judgment before a conclusion is reached.

Kairos. This word, in spite of the opinion of Meyer and Alford, that it ‘involves the idea of transitoriness’ is shown by Bloomfield to be far more specific. Kairos is derived (as Lennech says) from kao and means ‘a point’, and as applied to time ‘a point of time’; Plato defines kairos as ‘the acme of chronos‘.

In Matthew 24, when the Lord would direct the attention of the disciples to the signs of the times that would herald His Second Coming, He refers not to the observation of the weather, but to something akin, their observations of nature that made them know ‘that summer is nigh’. When the Lord said ‘Now learn a parable from the fig tree’, He meant, not that He was going to give them a parable which they were admonished to consider. The rise of the sap, the bursting of the fresh young leaves, all declare with one voice that ‘summer’ is nigh. So likewise, the concurrence of all the events already indicated in Matthew 34:1-33, would be sufficient evidence that ‘He is near, even at the doors’.

Luke not only records this parable of the fig tree, but because he deals also with the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24-29), speaks of the fig tree, and ‘all the trees’. The Fig, Vine and Olive trees are used in the Scripture quite frequently as types of Israel, and there is much to favour the conception that these three trees symbolize three phases of Israel’s position:

  1. The Fig tree sets forth Israel’s position as a nation (Matt. 21:19,20).
  2. The Vine indicates its spiritual privileges (Isa. 5).
  3. The Olive Israel’s religious privileges (Rom. 11).

In the parable of Jotham (Judg. 9:8-15), the olive, the fig, and the vine are successively invited to ‘reign’ but refuse, the offer then being made to the bramble, which accepts on conditions. This refers to Abimelech who in his turn is a type of Antichrist.

The parable of Luke 21:29, ‘Behold the fig tree, and all the trees’ is a plain indication what when we see Israel and the nations moving toward the position and relationship spoken of beforehand in prophecy our ‘redemption draweth nigh’. No none, whatever his belief or his unbelief, can close his eyes to the significant movements that are take taking place in Palestine [Israel] today. None of these movements are fulfillments of any specific prophecy; this awaits the close of the dispensation of the Mystery and the end of the times of the Gentiles, but it is as absurd as it is unnecessary to believe that no preparatory work will be done among Israel and the nations before the prophetic clock strikes once more — such a lack of preparation would demand at the time of the end a stupendous miracle for which there is no warrant.

Since writing these words, the world has been moved by the epoch making announcement at Pentecost 1948, that ‘Israel’ were once more to be considered a ‘Nation’; and on the 7 June 1967 Jerusalem was in Israeli hands.

This does not mean that their ‘lo-ammi‘ condition has ended, it does not mean that the prophetic clock has recommenced ticking, but it does mean that the most decisive movement of the centuries has taken place before our eyes, and for weal or for woe, the Rubicon has been crossed. For Israel there can be no looking back.

This is now the attitude of the Press, as following extracts will show:

Thuesday, July 13, 1948

But whatever direction future talks may take, they will get nowhere until the two fundamental issues have been settled. First, it must be brought home to the Arabs that a Jewish State in the Middle East is now a reality and that it has come to stay. The Second fundamental issue is that of immigration. If Israel is to be sovereign, her immigration cannot be restricted.

The Scriptures make it clear, that after a period of separation and negation, Israel shall ‘return, and seek the LORD their GOD, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days’ (Hos. 3:5).

Jeremiah records the promise of the Lord: ‘He that scattered Israel, will gather him’ (Jer. 31:10). During the period of Israel’s scattering, while they are called Lo-ammi ‘not My people’, the dispensation of the mystery obtains and the kingdom and its hopes are in abeyance. This fact however does not alter other facts; all truth must be held without bias or partiality.

Gentile succesion from Nebuchadnezzar still continues, although owing to the non-repentance of Israel at the first advent, the kingdoms represented by the legs (see Dan. 2:33) have entered into a phase parallel with the ‘mystery of the kingdom of Heaven’. Nations go about their ways, rise and fall, quite independently of the Church of the mystery, and scattered and blinded Israel are still with us, waiting indeed as Hosea 3 declares ‘without a king and without a prince’. If at the time of the end is to be an investment of Jerusalem by the armies of the Gentiles, then of necessity there must be inhabitants of that city; and if the inhabitants therein invested are of the stock of Israel, then of necessity, during the present period, there must have been movements among the Jewish people, even though promoted by unbelief in their true Messiah. To borrow a figure from the theatre; the play does not begin until the curtain rises, but if there were no work being done behind the curtain in preparation, there would be no play. So, until Israel occupy their position prophetic times will not have re-commenced, but if they are to commence, then much preparation must be going on here and now, and these prefatory preparations constitute legitimate ‘signs of the times’ that may be observed even today. Among such initial preparations going on at the present moment, and before our eyes is the first movement described in the vision of Ezekiel 37. A valley of dry bones, fitly described Israel’s present condition, and if it described Israel’s present condition, then it is a sign of the times. These bones are said to be ‘very dry’, and this same word appears in Isaiah 40 where we read ‘The grass withered‘ (Isa. 40:7,8). In Ezekiel the prophet is not only asked a question but is given a command ‘Prophesy upon these bones’ (Ezek. 37:4). In the vision we see, in fulfillment of the Lord’s promise, a series of movements resulting in the complete restoration of the whole house of Israel. Most of the prophecy lies beyond the bounds of the present dispensation, but the opening movement is going on before our eyes.

  • ‘. . .There was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to his bone’ (Ezek. 37:7).

Once again there is a link with Isaiah 40, for the word translated ‘noise’, is the Hebrew qol ‘voice’, which occurs in Isaiah 40:3,6. The combination of a ‘voice’ or ‘noise’ and a ‘shaking’ is found elsewhere in Ezekiel. In the prophecy against Tyre, the prophet says:

  • ‘. . . Shall not the isles shake at the sound of thy fall?’ (Ezek. 26:15).

There is a day of ‘shaking’ to come, as Haggai 2:6,21 and Hebrews 12:26-28 testify, and the movements among the nations, and the upheavals that usher in the time of the end, will be used by the Lord to gather the dry bones of Israel to the land of promise. Israel do not yet ‘live’, the Spirit has not breathed upon the slain, but the movement in Jewry and in Palestine [Israel now] is most certainly the movement indicated in Ezekiel 37:7. To change the figure and revert to the parables in Matthew 24 and Luke 21, there is a most definite sign of movement manifesting itself in the Fig Tree and all the trees. The stage is being set.


‘The Spirit speaketh expressly’ (1 Tim. 4:1)

We use the figure of the setting of a stage behind the scenes, before the actual rise of the curtain, to illustrate the difference between those signs of the times which are preparatory to the recommencement of prophetic fulfillment and the actual resumption by God of the things that pertain to Israel at the time of the end. Had it been our intention to survey these preparatory signs more fully, what an amount of suggestive lines of teaching we find ready to our hand. The changes in the climate of Palestine [Israel] which have been noted of late is one of the necessary preparatory signs. Another sign of the times is the shrinking of the world: the aeroplane, the wireless, and the television [social media] rendering ‘splendid isolation’ no longer a possibility to any country; and making the world ready for the last great dictator. The possibility of atomic warfare gives point to the cry ‘Who is able to make war with him?’ (Rev. 13:4). There have been many conjectures on the part of commentators as to how the ‘image’ of the Beast could be made visible to all that dwell on the earth, or how this image could ‘speak’, and so appear to demonstrate that resurrection from the dead had been achieved. The projecting of the ‘image’ of any ruler, and the authentic sound of his voice, is now not only possible but actual by the us of television and media coverage. These and other fascinating matters, however, we leave, in order that we may redeem the time and consider what prophetic statements must be fulfilled before the close of the dispensation of the mystery.

It will be both useless and unbelieving for anyone who has perceived the unique character of the ‘Mystery’ to take to themselves the prophetic utterances either of the O.T. or of the Gospels and the Revelation. The only valid prophecies that fall within the sphere of the present dispensation are those found in Paul’s epistles written since Acts 28:28. We know, from Ephesians 6:13 that there awaits the believer ‘the evil day‘ for which the whole armour of God has been provided; but for specific prophecies we must turn to the epistles to Timothy, for these are the only epistles written after Acts 28, that contain prophecies that pertain to the Church [ecclesia] today.

The first great prophetic utterance of the apostle after Acts 28 is found in the first epistle to Timothy chapter 4, which opens with the words ‘Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith’. It would be possible, of course, to take up these words and commence the study of this prophetic warning straight away, but to do so would be to ignore one of the first principles of all Scripture interpretation namely, the necessity of viewing any passage in the light of the context. Again, this principle may be interpreted in a very limited way and lead only to an examination of the verses immediately surrounding the passage or, it can be interpreted generously, endeavouring to see every passage of an epistle as related to the epistle as a whole. This, as the reader well knows, is our habit and we have never regretted the time spend on such an inquiry. It may not be necessary to set out the structure of this epistle in minute detail, but the following outline surely reveals two things: the intended relation of the apostasy of the latter times with the ‘Mystery of Godliness’, and the fact that these two subjects are at the very heart of the epistle.

1 Timothy

A 1:1,2 – Salutation. B 1:3-20 – ‘Teach no other doctrine’ [hetero didaskaleo] ‘The King, incorruptible, invisible’ ‘ Shipwreck.’

C 2:1-7 – The salvation of all men. D 2:8 to 3:15 – These things write I. E 3:15,16 – The MYSTERY – Angels. 4:1-8 – The APOSTASY – Demons.

C 4:9-12 – The Saviour of all men. D 4:13 to 6:2 – These things teach. B 6:3-20 – ‘Teach otherwise’ [hetero didaskalleo] ‘The King, immortal, unseen’ ‘Drowing’. A 6:21 – Salutions.

It would take us too far from our immediate subject either to enter into the controversy that has arisen over the true reading of 1 Timothy 3:16, or to attempt an exposition of that verse, this has been done with some attempt at thoroughness in Volume 32 of the Berean Expositor. All that we will do here is to give two short extracts from that article and pass on to chapter four.

‘A question now arises from the last clause of verse 15. Is the church ‘the pillar and ground of the truth?’ If we use the word ‘church’ in its most spiritual meaning, we shall find no basis in Scripture for such an important doctrine. The case before us, however, is most certainly not ‘the Church‘ but ‘a church’ wherein there are bishops and deacons; in other words, a local assembly, and surely it is beyond all argument that the truth does not rest upon any such church as its pillar and ground. The reader will observe that in the structure, chapter 3:15 is divided between D and E, and that the latter part of verse 15 belongs to verse 16. There is no definite article before the word ‘pillar’, and a consistent translation is as follows. Having finished what he had to say about the officers of the church and Timothy’s behaviour, he turns to the great subject of the mystery of godliness with the words:

  • A pillar and ground of truth and confessedly great is the mystery of godliness . . . was manifested . . . etc.

Here the teaching is that whatever or whoever the mystery of godliness shall prove to be, it or He, is the pillar and ground of truth. The mystery of godliness is then explained as ‘God manifest in the flesh’, and He, we know, is a sure and tried ‘Foundation’.

As to the reading of the Greek at 1 Timothy 3:16, we give the following summary:

  • ‘The reading of 1 Timothy 3:16, ‘God was manifest in the flesh‘ is witnessed by 289 manuscripts, by 3 versions and by upwards of 20 Greek Fathers. Moreover, the text of the R.V. does not make grammatical Greek. The relative pronoun hos (the suggested alternative to Theos) should agree with its antecedent. But Musterion is neuter. Bloomfield in his Synoptica says ‘hos ephanerothe is not Greek’. We would conclude this, with the calculated affirmation of our belief that the original reading of 1 Timothy 3:16 is, ‘GOD was manifested in the flesh‘ and, like Thomas of old, we bow in this Presence and say, ‘My Lord, and my God‘ and, like Philip, we say Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us”.

The focal point of the epistle is this ‘Mystery of Godliness’, and its relation to the epistle as a whole can be seen if we eliminate all detail and observe the following features:

  • A 1:17 — The King of the ages. INVISIBLE
  • B 3:16 — God manifest in the flesh. SEEN
  • A 6:16 — The King of kings. UNSEEN

The apostasy of the last days … … … to becontinued!!



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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 10:31
Apr 182020

The Land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is Mine … (Lev. 25:23)

The Background to the New Testament / no. 10.

Relationship of Christ’s Coming and the Acts Church to Judaism

The Lord Jesus Christ came unto His own. He came not to overthrow, but to fulfill. His ministry assumed a continuance of the Jewish institutions of the day, but reformed to His standard of righteousness. The Law was given a new, deeper, inner meaning, which touched not simply the outward man (Thou shalt do no murder), but the inner also (Thou shalt not hate). His formula was, “Ye have heard . . . but I say unto you”.

The disciples of Christ, who formed the Acts church, were not the first-fruits of some new, predominately Gentile church, whose sway was to be largely exercised in Europe and the Americas, but a nucleus, centred in Jerusalem, from whence the good news of the “kingdom of the heavens” was to be carried into all the earth. And so, at the return of Christ (looked upon then as being imminent), would the earth be governed from Jerusalem through the redeemed nation of Israel, who would stand to the other nations as priests of God, and carry “the knowledge of the Lord” to the ends of the earth. The great hope before these disciples was the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6), with all that implied.

The failure of Orthodoxy to appreciate the true position

Nearly 2,000 years of so-called “Orthodoxy” (and “Heresy”), have obscured the truth of the above, by the failure to distinguish things that are different, and hence have confused together two aspect of the plan of God, the earthly and the heavenly.

This emphasis placed on the Gospels, with the implication (sometimes an assertion) that their teaching is superior to that of the Epistles, since they record the “actual words of Christ Himself”, has demonstrated this confusion, and the cries which have gone up from time to time, “Back to the primitive church”, Back to Pentecost”, have shown that the peculiar dispensation committed to the Apostle Paul has not been appreciated. It has not been perceived that He Who once spoke on earth, has since spoken from heaven.

Hence the words of the Gospels and Acts have been torn out of their true setting and forced to fit a Gentile environment, which has nothing to do with the institutions of Israel, or the promises made unto the fathers.

It is the purpose of this article to try and show how the earthly ministry of Christ, and the Acts church, were a continuation and a completion of the true O.T. Judaism, and could, had Israel responded, have led to this “people of God” at last being God’s channel of blessing in the earth, under their King-Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ. That they failed to become so is a matter of history, but the assurance of prophecy is that is yet to be. Israel have indeed a glorious future.

Christ came to fulfill

  • “Think not that I came to abolish the law of the prophets: I came not to abolish, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17 Eng.-Greek transl.).

The O.T. Law has been likened to the initial, rough sketch of the painter, which disappears from view as it is filled out with colour. The silhouette is not rubbed out, but “filled out”. Such was the relationship of Christ’s teaching to the Law; it did not do away with that law, but so filled it out, that the original sketch was lost to view in the glory of its fulness. An inner, deeper meaning was given to the law; a higher standard of righteousness, which exceeded (lit. “abounded above”) that of the scribes and Pharisees, and which was necessary for entry into the “kingdom of the heavens” (verse 20). This righteousness was described by the Lord: 

  • “Ye have heard that it was said to the ancients, Thou shalt not commit murder; but whoever shall commit murder, shall be liable to the judgement. But I say to you, That everyone who is angry with his brother lightly, shall be liable to the judgement; but whoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be liable to the Sanhedrin; but whoever shall say, Fool, shall be liable to the Gehenna of fire” (verses 21, 22 Eng. -Greek transl.).

As has already been stated, the ministry of the Lord “assumed a continuance of the Jewish institutions”, and this is seen here when the Lord refers to “the Judgement” and “the Sanhedrin”. It surely makes more sense to allow that he was referring to the literal institutions familiar to the Jews, than to spiritualize them away as some do. The synagogue with its council of judgment, and the Temple and Sanhedrin, were not to be done away with but reformed, and in keeping with this, the Acts church continued to frequent both Temple and synagogue, and did not try to overthrow them as something contrary to the teachings of the Lord.

By the Lord’s standard of righteousness, a man was to be liable to the Judgment not simply for murder, but also for anger without due cause. The more severe offence of saying to one’s brother, “Raca” (i.e. “empty head”, a term of contempt probably from the Chaldee reqa‘, Hebrew req, “empty” — Gen. 37:24 etc.), would lead to appearance before the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, and to further attribute to one’s brother wickedness by calling him “Fool” (cp. Ps. 14:1 where the “fool” is not a simpleton, but a wicked man), would render the offender liable to be denied a proper burial after death, his corpse being cast into the valley of Hinnom (Gehenna) where it would be destroyed by worms or fire.

If it be objected that this standard of righteousness does not leave one with the feeling of a “fulness”, it should be remembered that the Lord’s words here represent only the negative side of one aspect of the great law which He propounded, and under which all laws are included:

  • “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Matt. 19:19).

The outline of God’s great law contained basically in ten commandments (lit. “words”, Deut. 10:4 A.V. margin) is filled out by this one word, as the Apostle Paul indicated in Romans 13:8,9:

  • “For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended [summed up] in this saying [lit. ‘word’], namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”

They who kept this “word”, would be barely conscious of the original outline, for the Law, insofar as it may be considered in negative terms, “Thou shalt not”, is not laid down for the righteous but for the lawless (1 Tim. 1:9). So these actions referred to in Matthew 5:22, which sprang not from love (unjustified anger, contempt and slander), were to be duly dealt with by the judicial system of Israel, the “Judgment” and the “Sanhedrin”.

Jerusalem — centre of authority

Judaism was centred around Jerusalem. There at the first was the Temple built where the Lord put His name (1 Kings 9:3). It as around this centre that the life of Israel revolved.

When the Acts church came into being it began at Jerusalem, and the authority of the Apostles was exercised from this centre. It was not until persecution broke out after the death of Stephen, that (according to Scripture) the Gospel was proclaimed outside of Jerusalem, and even then the Apostles remained within the city (Acts 8:1). This was strictly in accordance with the Divine order, Jerusalem, Judaea, Samaria and then the uttermost parts of the earth (Acts 1:8), and was a fulfillment of prophecy:

  • Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer, and rise again from the dead the third day; And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name unto all nations, beginning from Jerusalem” (Luke 24:46,47 R.V.).

It is not difficult to find O.T. allusions to the death and resurrection of Christ, but wat passage did the Lord have in mind in His reference to Jerusalem? Possibly Isaiah 2:3:

  • “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord . . . and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

Jerusalem was to be the centre of authority, and it was in harmony with this, and the Lord’s command, that the Apostles concentrated their attentions there. The original Twelve (including Matthias), who expected to sit on “twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28), even when for some reason they travelled outside of Jerusalem, seem always, at this period, to have returned to the city (cp. Acts 8:14-25; 10:19-11:2). The primary concern was to prepare Israel for their role in world blessing, and the Apostles therefore concentrated attention on this people, beginning at Jerusalem. The editor of the third edition of Dr. Weymouth’s New Testament makes the following observation (on Acts on (Acts 1:8):

  • “There does not appear to be any positive historical evidence that any Apostle, except Paul, ever preached outside Palestine. Indeed Matt. 10:23 seems to preclude the possibility of their having done so.”

Granting that the expression “any Apostle” is to be limited here to the Twelve (for Barnabas, Silas and others were apostles who undoubtedly did preach outside the land), this comment is in harmony with the aim before the Apostles, and is most probably true of the whole of the Acts period at least. That John spent his last days in Asia Minor is strongly attested by tradition, but this was after the Acts period when the “hope of Israel” was no longer a possibility. All the time however, that this “hope” was before the minds of the Apostles, their concern was the people of Israel, with Jerusalem as the acknowledge centre. When the Gentiles were, through the ministry of Paul, evangelized during the Acts period, this was looked upon even by him as “contrary to nature” (Rom. 11:24), and intended to “provoke them [the Jews] to jealousy” (Rom. 11:11).

It may therefore be realized why the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 caused so much confusion amongst those believers who had not understood, or would not accept, the teaching of the Apostle Paul on the subject, when he pronounced judgment upon Israel and indicated a turn to the Gentiles (Acts 28:28).

James, the bishop of Jerusalem

James, the Lord’s brother, who was apparently an unbeliever until after the resurrection of Christ (John 7:5; 1 Cor. 15:7), was a leading member of the church at Jerusalem, and seems to have performed the function of bishop (overseer) there. This much appears from Acts 12:17 and 15:13,19: 

  • “Go show these things unto James, and to the brethren.”
  • “And after they had held their peace, James answered . . . my sentence is . . .

See also Galatians 2:9,12 and note that James is still established in a position of authority at Jerusalem as late as Acts 21:17,18.

James presided over the body of Apostles and elders at Jerusalem when the question of the circumcision of the Gentiles was considered. Having listened to the experience of Peter, Barnabas and Paul with the Gentiles, he gave his judgment on the matter, which was then put into effect. The “decrees” that were formulated as a result of this judgment, were acceptable, not only to “the Apostles and elders”, but also to “the Holy Spirit” (Acts 15:28), and they were apparently binding upon the churches to which they were carried, which included Gentiles as far from Jerusalem as South Galatia (Derbe, Lystra, Iconium, etc.). The effect of these “decrees” was to establish these churches “in the faith” (Acts 16:1-5). The judgment of James on this occasion was still recognized by him as binding as late as Acts 21:25, nearly thirty years after Pentecost.

Some time after the dispersion of Acts 8:1, James wrote the Epistle which bears his name to the dispersed who had “the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ”, instructing them how to behave in the synagogue:

  • “If there come into your synagogue a man . . . in fine clothing . . . also a poor man in vile clothing; and ye have regard to him that weareth the fine clothing . . . do ye not make distinctions among yourselves?” (James 2:1-4 R.V. margin).

These words presume that some at least of the readers had a say in the affairs of certain synagogues, being in a position to delegate seats. An epistle from James at Jerusalem would carry authority and correct the tendency of some to favour the rich in the synagogues. The Epistle also was to encourage the “Dispersion” through the “manifold trials” of the time then present (1:2), as well as to give instruction in other matters.

Both the position of James and the acknowledgement of Jerusalem as a centre at this time, give a setting to the Acts period which cannot properly be understood unless connected intimately with the background and hopes of the Old Testament. To imagine that at this time God had cast away His people Israel, is to have failed to appreciate the environment of the Acts, and to accuse the Apostles of deception or ignorance. “Restoration” is the key word at the beginning of the Acts period, “rejection” belongs to the end.



The Background to the New Testament / No. 11.

The Apostles

The relationship of the twelve apostles of the circumcision to Israel, was much the same as that of the O.T. prophets. They were the “sent ones”, and they proclaimed a message of restoration upon the grounds of repentance; a message intended to prepare the people to fulfill their calling of God. The parallel is further extended in the treatment that each received at the hands of their countrymen:

  • “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees . . . ye say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets . . . Fill ye up measure of your fathers . . . behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some . . . scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city” (Matt. 23:29-34).

The message of hope which the Apostles carried, was borne witness to by signs and wonders. The miracles of healing they performed were a foretaste of the coming age of restoration (Heb. 6:5), and the judgement they effected on such as Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5), a reminder of that future day when “every one shall die for his own iniquity” (Jer. 31:29,30).

Authority to “forgive sins”

Something of the authority given to the Apostles may be seen from John 20:21-23:

  • “Jesus . . .said to them again, Peace be unto you: as the Father hath sent Me, even so send I you. And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye holy spirit (margin): Whose soever sins ye forgive, they; are forgiven unto them; whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained” (R.V.).

This authority, which was never transferred by any so called “Apostolic succession”, must not be minimized because it may present difficulties. The “as” and “so” of verse 21 relate the Apostles’ ministry directly to that of the Lord. He demonstrated His authority to forgive sins from His ability to heal (Luke 5:24), and it seems reasonable to suppose that the Apostles exercised something of that same authority, for they also could heal.

But the connexion between forgiveness of sins and healing at this time, was not apparently limited to the sphere of action of the Apostles.

  • “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church [ecclesia]; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14,15).

Such a connexion was also prophesied of the inhabitants of Jerusalem:

  • “And the inhabitant shall not say, I am sick: the people that dwell therein shall be forgiven their iniquity” (Isa. 33:24).

For a people with an earthly hope and earthly blessings, such an association is natural. The effects of salvation must include a cancellation of sin and its accompaniments (disease, pain, sorrow and death). The miracles of the Acts period were foretaste if the coming age when sin and judgment will be directly related, and when righteousness will have a direct reward. This subject will be referred to again when the N.T. miracles are considered. At the moment the question to be answered is, in what way could the Apostles “forgive” sins? Also, how did their authority differ from that of other believers at this time who could also heal?

In the absolute sense of “forgiveness”, God alone can act; none can forgive but Him. This much was recognized by the scribes and Pharisees when the Lord healed and forgave the man sick of the palsy (Luke 5:21). In what way then are the words of John 20:21-23 to be taken?

The writer does not pretend to have the complete answer to this question, but the recognition that the Apostles stood to Israel in much the same way as did the O.T. prophets, is a step towards a solution. The prophets of old spoke for the Lord, promising blessing, pronouncing judgement. They were the Lord’s mouthpiece to the people of Israel, and He filled their mouths with words (Jer. 1:6-9).

The N.T. Apostles could forgive sins only in this respect, insofar as they spoke for the Lord. They pronounced forgiveness, but He forgave. This authority was conferred by the gift of holy spirit (Joh. 20:22), which they in turn could convey to others, by prayer and laying on of hands:

  • “Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive holy spirit (lit.): (for as yet it was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptised in the name of the Lord Jesus). Then laid they their hands on them, and they received holy spirit” (Acts 8:14-17).

The “gift of holy spirit” at this time was a confirmation that the “belief” and “baptism” of converts was genuine, and the outward evidence of the gift having been given was “speaking in tongues”, etc., according to the word of the Lord:

  • “He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved . . . and these signs shall follow them that believe; in My name shall they cast out demons . . . speak with new tongues . . .” (Mark 16:16-18).

In this way the “forgiveness of sins” could be confirmed or otherwise by the Apostles, by the laying on of their hands, but note how prayer (the seeking of God’s will) preceded this action (Acts 8:15).

Although the Apostles had the God-given authority to confer the gift of holy spirit (with its “signs” following) upon others, there is no evidence that they could transfer the authority itself. Otherwise why was it necessary for the journey of Peter and John to the Samaritan believers, for Philip, who had first evangelized them (Acts 8:5-8), and was himself “full of spirit and wisdom” (Acts 6:3-6), could have conveyed the gift to them?

The Apostle Paul was also able to confer the gift of holy spirit through the laying on of hands (Acts 19:5,6), for he was “not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles” (2 Cor. 11:5).

The receiving of holy spirit without the laying on of hands, recorded in Acts 10:44 of the Gentiles, must be looked upon in the light of being confirmation of the Lord to Peter and the circumcision, that the Gentiles were now being called out. A reading of the whole of the events which led up to this passage, will demonstrate that the inclusion of the Gentiles at this time was quite contrary to the expectations of Peter and the Jewish believers, and was a step which the Lord found necessary to take in order to “stir up” Israel. (See Rom. 11:11-14 and note the expression used by Paul of the Gentile inclusion, “contrary to nature” (verse 24) and his description of himself as “one born out of due time” (lit. “an abortion”), 1 Cor. 15:8. The latter expression may suggest that Paul was called to apostleship previous to what had been intended, owing to the attitude of the Jews to the gospel).

Authority to “bind” and “loose”

  • “Thou art Peter . . . And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 16:18,19).
  • “Verily I say unto you (plural, so the ‘disciples’ of verse 1), Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matt. 18:18).

To Peter were committed the “keys of the kingdom of the heavens”; to all the Apostles the authority to “bind” and “loose”. What did this authority represent?

The word “key” (kleis) is used in only one other place in the Gospels, but significantly:

  • “Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered” (Luke 11:52).

To what the “entering in” here refers, may be gathered from a similar passage where the verbal form of kleis (key) is used:

  • “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up (kleio) the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in” (Matt. 23:13).

The kingdom of the heavens may be looked upon as a house of which Peter (as leader of the Apostles) was given the “keys”. He was as it were, the door-keeper of house steward of that house which was built upon the rock; the confession which Peter himself had just voiced:

  • “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).

Peter was empowered to determine who were to belong to, and who to be excluded from, the house of His Master, Who had entrusted him with the “keys”. In close association with this, all the Apostles were given authority to “bind” and “loose”, the explanation of which appears to be, “to forbid and to allow” (H.A. Meyer following Lightfoot). That is to say, the Apostles were authorized to declare what was, or was not lawful, with respect to the kingdom of the heavens.

Those in authority at the time of Christ, the “rulers” or “shepherds” of Israel (largely the scribes and Pharisees) had failed. Instead of preparing the people for their Messiah, they hindered them. When His kingdom was “in the midst of” them (Luke 17:21 R.V. margin), they neither entered themselves, nor suffered others to do so. They completely failed in their stewardship, and the people were left “as sheep having no shepherd” (Matt. 9:36).

The Apostles, with Peter at their head, were sent to this people having all the authority of the Lord upon them. They commanded repentance (Acts 2:38; 3:19) and pronounced forgiveness of sins. So came into being the Acts “church” (a called out company from the people, compare Acts 2:40), who awaited the early return of the Lord and the establisment of “the kingdom of the heavens” upon the earth. The Apostles were to have an authorative and responsible position in that kingdom, under the Lordship of Christ:

  • “In the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel” (Matt. 19:28).

This “judgement” was somewhat to be anticipated during the Acts period in the authority invested in the Apostles to “bind” and “loose”.

When the “number of the disciples multiplied”, and the “churches” were formed in various places, it became necessary to place over these assemblies men who could “shepherd the sheep”. So were appointed the “bishops” (overseers).

There is no record of the inauguration of this office in the N.T., and it is probable that it was simply a continuation of the office of “chief ruler” in the synagogue. (The close connection of the early believers with the synagogue has already been noted). The appointment of James as overseer to the Jerusalem assembly was early required, and the authority he exercised has already been considered.

The office carried with it the responsibility of the affairs of the assembly, rather in the same way as did the position of “chief ruler” to a synagogue. Those who served seem also to have been called “elders” and “shepherds” or “pastors”. This much appears from a literal rendering of 1 Peter 5:1,2):

  • “The elders among you I exhort . . . shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight . . . willingly.”

It is possible that the office was variously referred to according as it was viewed with respect to authority (“bishop”) or ministry (“shepherd”); the appelation “elder” being applied in recognition of age maturity.

A bishop must be able to teach (1 Tim. 3:1,2) and this accounts for the connection “pastors and teachers” in Ephesians 4:11. That there was just as much need for this office after Acts 28:28 cannot surely be doubted.

A “deacon” (Greek diakonos) was simply a servant, who was concerned with the less spectacular, but equally essential duties in the assembly, that the “clerks” had dealt with in the synagogue. The deacons of Acts 6 were a special company who apparently existed only for a time, but the duties divulging upon them give some idea of the work these men were intended to do.

When the “hope of Israel” was succeeded by the hope of the Body of Christ, there was still the need for organization within the assemblies, and so the offices of bishop and deacon continued. But with the turning away from the teaching of Paul, and hence the truth (2 Tim. 1:15; 4:4), a confused darkness settled over the assemblies, and out of it eventually arose the Catholic church. Pretending to the authority of the Apostles, it exalted the office of bishop (and to a less extend that of deacon) above all that was ever intended by the Lord, until at the present time that office bears no resemblance to the New Testament ideal.



The Background to the New Testament / no. 12.


When the true setting of the Acts period is perceived, it may be understood why miracles continued throughout that time, but ceased abruptly after Acts 28:28. Apart from their prophetic import as the credentials of the Messiah (Luke 7:19-23; Isa. 35:4-6), miracles are intimately bound up with the earthly purpose of God. They were a foretaste of restoration of earthly blessing, when the effects of sin are removed. They do not belong to a heavenly calling with “spiritual blessings”.

A useful comment on the true meaning of a miracle, which may help to show why they were found in connection with the earthly, but not heavenly purpose of God, is given in The Unrealised Logic of Religion by W.H. Fitchett:

  • “The old crude, not to say false, definition of a miracle described it as ‘a suspension, or violation, of the ordinary laws of nature’. Most of the objections against miracles hold only against this false conception of them. In the sense of a ‘violation of the national order’, sin is the true miracle. It is essentially a breach of the divine order of the universe, and Christ’s acts of supernatural healing are the restoration of law to its kingdom; the arrest of that disorder in man’s physical nature which sin produces. His miracles are not a breach of the divine order, but its reassertion. They are prophetic hints, in physical terms, of the great ends of His redemption.”

Salvation, for a people with an earthly hope, includes complete restoration in the physical realm, and most of the miracles of Scripture can be clearly seen to be a foretaste of the age of restoration to come. The Hebrew believers were said to have:

  • “tasted the good word of God and the miracles (dunameis) of the age to come” (6:5 lit.).

The close association between salvation and healing is seen in a number of N.T. passages. The woman with the issue of blood expressed an assurance in the Lord when she said:

  • “If I may touch but His clothes, I shall be whole” (Mark 5:28).

But the verb translated here “I shall be whole” is the Greek sozo, “to be saved”. When the Lord had perceived who it was that had touched Him, He said to her, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole” (sozo, “hath saved thee”). This very same verb was used by the Apostle Paul, when he wrote to a company with a calling “in heavenly places”,

  • “for by grace are ye saved through faith” (Eph. 2:8),

yet there is no suggestion here that physical salvation is involved. It is a matter of distinguishing things that differ. The miracles of healing recorded in the New Testament are explicable when seen as a foretaste of coming good things: they do not belong to a company whose blessings are all spiritual. Hence such miracles ended abruptly with the change of dispensation at Acts 28:28.

There is however one miracle which did not belong solely to the earthly purpose of God, and which continues its influence today:

  • “The gospel of Christ . . . it is the power (dunamis, ‘miracle’) of God unto salvation to every one that believeth” (Rom. 1:16).

Nothing short of a miracle is necessary to change the heart of man, who has turned his back upon God, and corrupted His ways.

This miracle of God, which is effected through the gospel of Christ, is also to be looked upon as a foretaste of restoration. Already it gives to the believer “the spirit of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7). He is enabled to see things as they really are, and not through the eyes of the world. By the renewing of the mind the believer is being “transfigured” (Rom. 12:2), and the goal is associated with the “image” of God, the Creator of the “new man” (Col. 3:10). All that was lost in Adam is more than “restored” in Christ.

Effect of the destruction of the Temple on believers living at the time

It has been shown that the Acts believers, who had an earthly hope and expected the early return of the Lord to the earth, looked towards Jerusalem as their centre. This was not simply that the city was convenient in this respect, but because it was to come the centre of God’s administration on the earth, from which the Word of the Lord would go forth. Already, during the Acts period, and in anticipation of that future day, the Apostles of the circumcision exercised their authority from here, and their word was considered binding.

Miracles of healing and judgement were commonplace at this time, and were a “taste” of the miracles of the coming age of restoration. The gift of “holy spirit”, which conferred the ability to speak in tongues, to heal, etc., was expected to follow belief and baptism, and was a confirmation of true conversion.

The position of the Gentile at this time was as of a “wild olive branch” grafted into the stock of Israel, “contrary to nature”, and intended to provoke the people of God into bringing forth fruit, to fulfill their calling of God.

It can therefore be appreciated why the destruction of the Temple and the overthrow of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, together with those other factors which must already have been thrusting themselves upon the attention (viz. the lack of miracles and the increase of Gentile converts over the Jews), caused so much confusion amongst believers at the time. To those who had not understood, or would not accept the change of dispensation announced by the Apostle Paul (Acts 28:28; Eph. 3), the position was inexplicable.

  • “With the overthrow of Jerusalem the visible centre of the Church (ecclesia) was removed. The keystone of the fabric was withdrawn, and the whole edifice threatened with ruin” (The Christian Ministry by J.B. lightfoot).

The Gospel of John

From the nature of the system which eventually emerged from the darkness, it is quite evident that the later ministry of Paul was little understood. He lived long enough himself to see the beginnings of a turning from his teaching, and consequently a loss of the truth:

  • “All they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (2 Tim. 1:15).

The Apostle John, who lived to a great age, almost certainly spent his latter days at Ephesus, the centre of this area that “turned away” from Paul.

  • “Nothing is better attested in early Church (ecclesia) history than the residence and work of St. John at Ephesus” (The Gospel of John B.F. Westcott).

This being so, it was probably here that the Apostle wrote the Gospel which is generally attributed to him.

There are at least three aspects of that Gospel which bear upon the subject being considered, and which suggest a secondary object in its writing. (The primary object is plainly stated in 20:31).

  1. The position of Jerusalem with respect to worship (4:19-24).
  2. The relationship of John’s “tarring” to the Second Coming (21:20-23).
  3. The presentation of the Holy Spirit’s ministry (14 and 16).

Further to the second point may be observed the remarks of the Lord (not recorded by the other Evangelists) on His “coming to them” (chapter 14).

(1) The position of Jerusalem with respect to worship

  • The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father . . . the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:21,23).

When was this hour to be? All the expectations of the Acts period were centred in Jerusalem. During the coming age all nations were to flow there to worship:

  • “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came up against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts . . . unto Jerusalem” (Zach. 14:16,17).

The reader is urged to read the whole of Zechariah 14, when it will be seen that this “worship” at Jerusalem is presented after the Second Coming of Christ to the Mount of Olives (verse 4).

To what period then does the prophecy in John four refer? The Apostle clarifies the position by the insertion of the words “and now is” (verse 23), i.e. “at the time of writing (post Acts 28)”. In recording this prophecy of the Lord (no other Gospel writer does), John indicates that a time had now arrived when Jerusalem was no longer to be looked upon as a centre of worship; the “hope of Israel” had been succeeded by another hope, the prior position of the Jew had gone. Without actually intruding into the exclusive ministry of Paul, John seeks to explain that the overthrow of Jerusalem was a consequence of the rejection by Israel of their Messiah (“His own received Him not” — 1:11), an event suggested by the Lord in His conversation with the Samaritan woman, and an evidence that a new dispensation now obtained in which the “true” replaced the typical (4:23,24). This dispensation concerned the “world” irrespective of the Jew; the “children of God” were “as many as” received the “True Light” (1:9-12).

(2) The relationship of John’s “tarrying” to the Second Coming

The Lord had suggested the possibility that John might remain alive unto His coming again. This had led to the false assumption that this was necessarily so. There was however an “if” attached to the Lords words:

  • “Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come” (21:22).

Any who have appreciated the position during the Acts period will realize that an “if” conditioned the Lord’s return at that time, the “if” of repentance on the part of Israel (see Acts 3:19,20). The “coming” was imminent and expected throughout the Acts, as an examination of the epistles written at that time will reveal. When after constant refection of the truth Israel were laid aside in unbelief (Acts 28), the coming (parousia) of the Lord faded as a near possibility.

John, conscious of the change of dispensation, and writing his Gospel partly to explain that change, would find it necessary to clarify the position with regard to his demise, which was now certain to his mind. So he wrote:

  • “Yet Jesus said not unto him (Peter), he (John) shall not die; but if I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?” (21:23).

The destruction of the Temple and the overthrow of Jerusalem (the Temple is standing at the Lord’s return — Matt. 24:15-30) was the evidence that the Second Coming had been put off indefinitely, and hence there was now no “if” attached to John’s death.

Further to the “coming” of the Lord, the reader should note how John, in his Gospel, although he makes reference to the literal coming (14:3), records how the Lord promised His presence in another way:

  • “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you . . . If a man love Me . . . My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him” (14:18,23).

Add to the above promise the words of verse 16, and it will be seen that the presence of Father, Son and Holy Spirit are here promised. Here is an aspect of the “coming” of the Lord which the other Evangelists barely touch (but compare Matt. 28:20 and Mark 16:20), but which John seems to emphasize of the postponement of the parousia.

(3) The presentation of the Holy Spirit’s ministry

The ministry of the Holy Spirit during the Acts period was intimately connected with “spiritual gifts” (tongues, healing, etc.). The “promise of the Father” was to be “endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8).

The aspect of the Holy Spirit’s ministry which John emphasizes in his Gospel is different, and is in keeping with a dispensation during which “spiritual gifts”, such as are observed in Acts, do not obtain.

  • “The Comforter, which is the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you“.
  • “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth . . . He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you” (14:26; 16:13,14).

To sum up the emphasis of John on the “coming” of the Lord and the Holy Spirit’s ministry, the words of B.F. Westcott on the last discourses of the Lord (recorded only by John in chapter 14-16 of his Gospel) are to the point:

  • “At first they (the last discourses) could not have been intelligible in their full bearing. The fall of Jerusalem at length placed them in their proper light, and then they were recorded” (Gospel of John).

Confusion, darkness and the emergence of Catholicism

With the destruction of Jerusalem, “the overthrow of the visible centre”, a period which J.B. Lightfoot describes as “shrouded in darkness” (with respect to Church government) ensued. It was not until early in the second century that the episcopal office became established, and the first signs of Catholicism arose. But that it was very different from anything which the Apostle Paul envisaged, is manifest from a reading of the writings of “The Fathers”. Even Lightfoot has to admit:

  • “The magnitude of the change effected during this period may be measured by the difference in the constitution and conception of the Christian Church as presented in the Pastoral Epistles of St. Paul and the letters of St. Ignatius respectively” (The Christian Ministry).

So began the long years of confusion and darkness when the truth became buried under an accumulating mass of tradition and error. This however goes beyond the present and the interested reader is referred to the articles on The Early Centuries and the Truth by Stuart Allen ((The Berean Expositor, Vol. 44 and 45)). -See under for book sale!!!- / / email address:

With this concluding article in the series The Background to the New Testamen, is sent forth the prayer that it may have helped some to catch the environment of the Acts period, and so appreciate better the situation at that time with its hopes and failures, and the hope of the present calling outlined first by the Apostle Paul, the “prisoner of Christ Jesus for you Gentiles” (Eph. 3:1).




Het culminatiepunt in Harmageddon

De Grote Verdrukking waarover Jezus en zijn apostelen hebben gesproken, een ‘verdrukking zoals er nooit geweest is en ook nooit meer zal komen’ is de tweede en laatste fase in het regiem van de Antichrist. Het edele en majesteitelijke van zijn persoon valt weg en onthult een monster. Lucifer, de onuitsprekelijke schone en verheven lichtdrager, werd een ogenblik uitgebeeld in de gestalte van een supermens, om dan zijn ware gestalte in deze zelfde mens te tonen; het monster dat een ieder vermoordt die hem niet als god aanbidt. Een deel van de mensheid doorziet de grote leugen van de fascinerende wereldleider en weigert hem als goddelijke leider te aanvaarden.

Met ontstellende klaarheid doorzien zij nu de achtergronden van alle religieuze begoocheling en ook hoe alles in de geschiedenis op dit gebeuren moest uitlopen. Zij weten nu aan welke zijde de waarheid ligt, die zo volkomen is verleugend en ook weten zij dat Christus nu niet langer meer op zich zal laten wachten. Geheel hun verlangen gaat nu uit naar hem, die wezenlijk hun Vader is en naar hem die hen wezenlijk zal verlossen. Wanneer het de Antichrist bekend is dat bepaalde mensen hem niet langer volgen, laat hij de gehele werelbevolking van een merkteken voorzien. Alleen zij die weigeren hem te aanbidden ontvangen dit merkteken niet en dat betekent uitsluiting van alle productie, distributie en consumptie, vervolging, marteling en dood. In grote trekken zullen de nachtmerries van Orwell en Huxley dan realiteit geworden zijn. Hoogontwikkelde communicatiemiddelen, televisie, luisterapparaten etc., en verraad verschaffen de werelddictatuur een vrijwel volmaakte controle over de gedragingen van alle mensen. Het overgrote deel van de mensen zal deze vervolgingen steunen, daar zij met grote haat vervuld zijn jegens de nieuwe gelovigen van een God, die het schitterend bouwwerk van een genotzuchtige super-civilisatie stelselmatig vernietigt.

Het einde van de gerichten en tevens het einde van de Anti-christ valt samen met de eindstrijd in Harmageddon en de wederkomst van Christus. Dit culminatiepunt van geschiedenis en heilshistorie is ten nauwste verbonden aan het lot van Israël. Met de wederkomst van Christus komt immers ook de messias voor Israël en zullen de oude heilsbeloften aan het volk van JHVH geheel vervuld worden. Voor dat de ware messias komt zal evenwel ook Israël de eindgerichten ondergaan en, teruggekeerd in het erfland, zal het volk op bijzondere en verschrikkelijke wijze met de Antichrist worden geconfronteerd. Of wij uit Jezus’ woorden, dat Israël hem niet aangenomen heeft, maar iemand zal aannemen die komt in zijn eigen naam, moeten verstaan dat het Israël van de eindtijd in de Antichrist zijn messias zal begroeten, is niet geheel zeker. Wel is er sprake van een verdrag dat de Antichrist met Israël zal sluiten (Dan. 9 en 11 (:32)) en ook moet een bijzondere relatie tussen Israël en de Antichrist worden verondersteld, gezien de profetie dat hij zich in de tempel te Jeruzalem als een god zal laten aanbidden (Dan. 11, 31; Mt. 24, 15; Mk. 13, 24; II Thess. 2.), maar in ieder geval zal een deel van Israël niet tot de aanhang van de Antichrist behoren. Bij het overblijfsel van Israël begint het heil van het messiaanse rijk en Israël zal zelfs het wereldcentrum worden van waaruit de nieuwe wereld bestuurd wordt. (Jes. 60, 2, 10, 14, 15, 17, 22; 61, 5; 62, 1-2; Zach. 8, 13, 22-23; 14, 16).

In ander verband hebben wij er de nadruk op gelegd dat de wereldgeschiedenis en daarmee de heilsgeschiedenis verbonden is aan het lot van Israël en dat van het Heilige Land. Eerst als er aan de verstrooiing van Israël een einde komt kan de wederoprichting aller dingen beginnen en eerst als God het overblijfsel van zijn volk weer aanneemt als Godsvolk (waarin hij zich op bijzondere wijze zal openbaren) betekent dit voor de gehele wereld het ‘leven uit de doden’ (Dan. 12, 6-7; Rom. 11, 12-15). Het einde van Israëls verstrooiing betekent niet, dat het volk dan ook onmiddellijk weer heilsorgaan is (Ez. 36, 24; Zach, 13, 8-9). Israël gaat in ongeloof jegens zijn verworpen messias terug naar Palestina en zal eerst tijdens de eindgerichten, na de Grote Verdrukking, Jezus als zijn messias herkennen (Mt. 24, 29-31; Ap. 1,7; Zach. 13, 3-4; 12, 10-14).

‘De toorn van JHVH wordt niet afgewend, totdat hij zijn plan voltooit . . . in het laatste der dagen’ (Jer. 23, 20; 30, 24). JHVH keert ‘weder tot zijn plaats’, totdat zij zich schuldig voelen . . . ‘ (Hos. 5,15). In zijn poging de Joden alsnog te overtuigen van Jezus’ messiasschap spoorde de apostel Petrus de Joden tot berouw en bekering aan, ‘opdat er tijden van verademing mogen komen en hij de messias zendt’ (Hand. 3, 19). De ‘tijden van verademing’ komen niet vóór Israel zich bekeert en dit zal niet gebeuren vóór de tijd dat alle dingen wederopgericht worden. Tot zo lang zal de Christus in de hemel opgenomen zijn.

‘Vele dagen zullen de Israëlieten blijven zitten zonder koning en vorst, zonder offer. Daarna zullen de Israëlieten zich bekeren en JHVH zoeken en David, hun vorst . . . in de dagen der toekomst (Hos. 3, 4).

De terugkeer van een nog onbekeerd Israël naar het erfland is een vele malen herhaalde profetie. ‘Ik zal U uit de heidenen halen . . . en Ik zal U in Uw land brengen. Dán zal Israël gereinigd worden (Ez. 36, 24-25). Een blind en een doof volk zal uit de verstrooiing gehaald worden (Jes. 42, 18-25; 43, 1-8). Een nationalistische beweging en een herstel van de natie gaan vooraf aan de religieuze omkering tot JHVH, een bekering die nu ook het geloof in Christus moet inhouden! Ezechiëls beeld van Israëls geestelijke wederopstanding laat dan ook eerst het ‘naderen van de doodsbeenderen tot elkaar’ zien, een uitwendig ‘opstandingsproces’ van herstelde spieren, vlees en een huid, ‘maar geest was er nog niet in hen’. Daarna ‘blaast’ de geest in deze ‘reconstructie’ en dán pas is er werkelijk sprake van herleving (Ez. 37, 7-10).

De profetische samenhangen tonen aan dat de Joden in de tijd van de eind gerichten als natie hersteld zullen zijn en de tempel te Jeruzalem zullen hebben herbouwd. De oudtestamentische ritus is dan onder het gelovig Jodendom teruggekeerd, hetgeen nog niet de herkenning van de Messias betekent! Zoals Palestina — het kruispunt der naties — altijd het land van Gods bijzondere heilsdaden is geweest, wordt het ook het toneel van de eindstrijd tussen de Volkomen Mens en de Onmens.

Het is natuurlijk niet toevallig, dat de Antichrist zijn beeld ter aanbidding opricht in de tempel te Jeruzalem. Jeruzalem is de aardse woonplaats van JHVH, de stad waar Christus zijn overwinning op de Tegenstander behaalde er waar de Antichrist weet, dat hij zijn vijand kan verwachten. En het zijn de Joden, waaruit de Messias voortgekomen is en waarin het heil voor de toekomst geborgen is, die hij het eerst en het volledigst wil uitroeien. Wetende dat geen Jood hem aanbidden zal, resideert hij in Jeruzalem en kiest hij de tempel als centrum voor zijn vergoddelijking. De Joodse eredienst moet gestaakt worden en de Joden moeten kiezen tussen deelname aan de cultus van de Antichrist en de dood. Ook de Joden waren in de aanvang verblind door de schittering van deze supermens en zelfs hebben zij een verdrag met hem gesloten, maar nu hij het masker heeft afgeworpen verkiezen zij de verschrikkelijkste vervolgingen boven de aanbidding van een afgod. Dan wordt vervuld wat Jezus geprofeteerd heeft, wat Daniël, Paulus en Johannes gezien hebben; het oprichten in de tempel van de ‘gruwel der verwoesting’, de ‘mens der zonde die zich in de tempel neerzet om te laten zien dat hij God is’ (II Thess. 2, 3-4; Dan. 11, 36). Maar hoewel vele Joden onder deze tirannie zullen sterven, zullen ook velen er in slagen te vluchten naar de ontoegankelijke bergen en holen in de woestenijen nabij Jeruzalem. Ook deze laatste poging van de Tegenstander Israël te vernietigen kan niet slagen, daar God de nieuwe wereld na de gerichten begint met het overblijfsel van Israël. In dát volk zal de nog onvervulde heilsprofetie geheel worden waargemaakt.

Als het verderf met de gedwongen aanbidding van de Antichrist tot zijn uiterste is gekomen volgt de slotacte van het eindgericht en tevens van de wereldgeschiedenis, in zoverre deze bepaald en geleid werd door de luciferische machten. Jeruzalem is altijd een ‘steen des aanstoots’ geweest, maar in de periode van het laatste gericht zal alle woede van de volken zich richten op deze stad en op het land waar het gehate volk woont en waar ‘de grote vijand’ verwacht wordt. Alle haat van de door de gerichten geteisterde en hardnekkig in het ongeloof volhardende mensheid zal zich nu concentreren op het volk dat nooit ‘thuis’ is geweest op deze wereld en dat altijd als een vreemd element geïrriteerd heeft. De Antichrist weet alle overgebleven volken te mobiliseren om tegen Jeruzalem op te trekken, als de eerste tekenen van Christus’ wederkomst kenbaar worden.

Deze opzet stemt geheel overeen met het laatste gericht dat JHVH besloten heeft. Het is immers JHVH’s bedoeling dat alle volken zich in Palestina zullen verzamelen, ‘als garven op de dorsvloer’ en ‘druiven in de persbak! (Micha 4, 12; Joël 3, 12-13; Ap. 14, 14-20; 19, 15). ‘Zie, Ik maak Jeruzalem tot een schaal der bedwelming . . . in die dagen zal Ik Jeruzalem maken tot een steen die alle natiën moeten heffen . . . alle volken der aarde zullen zich daarheen verzamelen’ (Zach. 12, 1-3). Het eindvonnis van JHVH is ‘volken te vergaderen, rijken te verzamelen, om over hen vuur uit te gieten’.

‘Menigten, menigten in het dal der beslissing‘ roept de profeet extatisch uit (Joël 3, 14). Ook de psalmist ziet dit adembenemende tafereel van zich in slagorde scharende machthebbers tegen God, die lacht en spot, omdat hij hen allen in één ontlading van zijn kracht zal verdelgen (Ps. 2, 1-9). Het visioen van Daniël zal nu worden waargemaakt: het beeld van de koninkrijken der aarde zal nu ‘zonder toedoen van mensenhanden’ verbrijzeld worden en plaats moeten maken voor het eeuwig Koninkrijk van God (Dan. 2, 44-45).

Deze unieke laatste oorlog, die van alle oorlogen verschilt door het feit dat zij niet tussen mensen onderling gevoerd wordt, maar tussen de mensheid en de God die zij niet als God wil erkennen, wordt zowel voor Jeruzalem, in het dal van Josafath, als in de vlakten en op de hoogten van het klassieke slagveld Megiddo (Harmageddon) uitgevochten. “Zie, in die dagen en in die tijd, wanneer Ik een keer zal brengen in het lot van Juda en van Jeruzalem, zal Ik alle volken verzamelen en afvoeren in het dal van Josafath en Ik zal daar met hen in het gericht treden (Joël 1, 1-3). ‘En hij verzamelde hen op de plaats die in het hebreeuws genaamd wordt Harmagédon’ (Ap. 16, 16; Zach. 12, 11).

De strategie van de Antichrist past geheel in het plan van de Rechter-messias die nu komende is. In de naam van het historische slagveld Megiddo schuilen de begrippen ‘neerhouwen’ en ‘afsnijden’ en het hebreeuwse Harmageddon laat een vertaling toe die overeenkomt met ‘van uit de hoogte neerhouwen’, terwijl ook het dal van Josafath een typische betekenis heeft: JHVH oordeelt!

Het dal van Josafath is het ‘dal der beslissing’ en Harmageddon de streek waarin de macht van de Antichrist vanuit de hoogte neergehouwen wordt, maar de miljoenenlegers van de verbonden volken zullen ongetwijfeld over een veel grotere opervlakte verspreid zijn. Hierop duidt waarschijnlijk ook de profetie dat JHVH zal ‘dorsen van Eufraat tot Nijl’ (Jes. 27,12).

Het absurd en ridicuul aandoende beeld van een moderne wereldstrijdmacht die zich in een klein land concentreert om God te bestrijden kan slechts als een toekomstige realiteit aanvaard worden indien wij consequent enkele reeds genoemde factoren in het oog houden. Zoals in dit boek herhaaldelijk is uiteengezet is de zich openbarende God de Volkomen Mens, die zich openbaart in bestanddelen van de creatuurlijke werkelijkheid. De Volkomen Mens kan zich substantieel en zintuigelijk waarneembaar belichamen. Zijn energetische lichamelijkheid kan zich in de dimensies van onze tijd-ruimtelijkheid ‘verdichten’. De Antichrist wéét, dat God zich in de eindstrijd manifest zal openbaren, dat hij nu niet langer verborgen zal blijven achter de gerichten, maar in de slotfase zélf zal verschijnen. Juist op deze wetenschap kon hij zijn leugen baseren dat God niet anders dan een kosmisch superwezen is! Bovendien zijn de geesten van de mensen in die tijd rijp gemaakt voor deze idee, temeer daar zij gedurende de gerichten reeds met buitenaardse wezens zijn geconfronteerd (Ap. 9, 14-19). De aard en de vreemdheid der gerichten, de verschijning van onmenselijke en bovenmenselijke wezens, hebben de mensheid in dit stadium ontvankelijk gemaakt voor de gedachte aan een reële invasie uit de ruimte! Deze apocalyptische gedachte leefde trouwens reeds lang in de intuïtie van science-fictionauteurs, die in een tijd van ont-mythologisering nieuwe mythen schiepen, waarin onbekende werelden overwegend bevolkt werden met infernale superwezens die de mensheid bedreigen en de aarde willen overmeesteren.

Het bijeenbrengen van een internationale strijdmacht tegen God kan alleen begrepen worden als men de situatie begrepen heeft, die tijdens de eindgerichten en onder het regiem van de Antichrist ontstaan is. God is dan niet langer een fictie of een verre abstractie! Uit alles is inmiddels gebleken dat de JHVH-Christus/Messias uit de bijbel een realiteit is, die zich in de ogen van de door de Antichrist verblinde mensheid echter slechts voordoet als God, maar in werkelijkheid een buitenaardse macht is, die het op de vernietiging van de mensheid heeft voorzien. De kennis en de autoriteit van de wereldleider, die reeds in alles heeft aangetoond dat hij zich niet vergist, staan er borg voor dat die hatelijke macht uit de wereldruimte nu werkelijk oog in oog met de mensheid zal moeten komen te staan en vernietigd kan worden. Er schuilt dus niets naïefs of onzinnigs in het beeld van hoogontwikkelde volken die God gaan bestrijden. Voor het eerst in de geschiedenis is een reeds zwaar geteisterde mensheid tot één macht verbonden tegen een gemeenschappelijke niet-menselijke vijand, een thema, dat in kosmische verhoudingen en interplanetaire relaties ook in onze tijd niet meer tot de science fiction kan worden gerekend, ook al zijn tallozen zo naïef en onbewust bevreesd om vol te houden dat wij alléén zijn in het heelal.

Voor de overgebleven mensheid na de eindgerichten is het ons zo mythologisch toeschijnende beeld van de op aarde verschijnende God de werkelijkheid van een kosmische invasie, die zij op straffe van volkomen vernietiging moeten bestrijden! Uit een en ander volgt natuurlijk, dat de strijdmacht van de Antichrist in de illusie verkeert dat de komende invasie met menselijke wapens te keren ís. Uit de teksten blijkt niet hoe de Antichrist ‘de vijand’ aan de mensen heeft voorgesteld, maar zeker is, dat deze voorstelling de lichamelijkheid en kwetsbaarheid ‘van de vijand’ veronderstelt.

Als wij deze situatie overzien rijst natuurlijk de vraag of de Antichrist en zijn opdrachtgever, de Tegenstander, die wél weten met God te doen te krijgen, dan ook in de illusie kunnen verkeren dat zij God kunnen overwinnen. Die illusie hebben zij zeker niet! De Tegenstander weet dat hij verslagen is, dat hij maar ‘een kleine tijd’ gekregen heeft om — altijd in het kader van Gods plan — zijn werk te voltooien. Maar de mensenhater bij uitnemendheid wil, juist door het in uitzicht stellen van een overwinning, zoveel mogelijk mensen aan de zekere vernietiging prijsgeven. Daarbij toegevend aan zijn eigen machteloze woede en aan de Godshaat van de overgebleven mensheid die hem trouw gebleven is, voltrekt hij tevens het vonnis over zichzelf en al degenen die hem toebehoren. Het is al eerder opgemerkt dat de afgrondelijke haat van de Tegenstander tegen God wortelt in de wetenschap, dat alles wat hij tegen God en zijn rijk onderneemt, hem toegelaten is tot een zekere grens, die hij nooit kan overschrijden. In alles wat hij doet, volvoert hij slechts het plan Gods om de mens tot zijn beeld en gelijkenis te maken en de niet-mensen af te scheiden. Ook in de eindstrijd van Harmageddon weet hij, dat deze strijd zijn definitieve einde als vorst van deze wereld bezegelt.

Het thema van de onzinnige en hopeloze strijd is ook in de historie niet onbekend. Het doorvechten tegen beter weten is van een demonische bezetenheid, die zo duidelijk en verschrikkelijk bij een figuur als Hitler aan de dag trad. Bij de Tegenstander is deze demonie absoluut. Hij is van de aanvang kansloos geweest, want hij wéét dat hij niets kan doen zonder de kracht die de schepper hem verleent om iets te kúnnen doen en hij wéét dat Gods heilsplan volkomen verwezenlijkt zal worden. Al het kwaad dat hij gesticht heeft is slechts een noodzakelijke functie in de volkomen menswording van de potentiële mens, de uitdaging waaraan de potentiële mens moet getoetst worden om volkomen mens of niet-mens te worden. Zelfs de menigte die hij in de eindstrijd met zich mee zal slepen in zijn definitieve val, doet niets af van het Koninkrijk Gods, de aantallen mensen, die in het Godsrijk worden opgenomen, worden met niet één verminderd door zijn activiteiten en het aantal potentiële mensen, dat niet tot het beeldschap zal komen, wordt met niet één vermeerderd. Het samenspel tussen Goddelijke voorzienigheid, het willen en niet willen van de mens, de relaties tussen determinatie en vrijheid en de verdervende activiteit van de Tegenstander resulteren precies in het door God beoogde doel.

De wederkomst van Christus

De apotheose van het eindgericht is de wederkomst van Christus, waarmee tevens het einde van de Antichrist en zijn rijk gekomen is. Het hele gebeuren kan worden samengevat in het beeld, dat Christus zal geopenbaard worden in vlammend vuur.

Het vuurgericht is ook het voornaamste beeld uit de oudtestamentische profetie over de Dag van JHVH. De God van het gericht verschijnt ‘blinkende’, hij zal met vuur komen en de vijanden zullen met vuur verteerd worden. De tegenstanders worden in vlam gezet en de bergen versmelten als was voor de verschijning van JHVH. Hij zal komen als vuur en zijn toorn zal openbaar worden in gloed. Dit alles wijst o.i. weer op geweldige energie-ontladingen die de miljoenenmenigte op palestijnse bodem verzengt. Nog voor één wapen kan vuren (kernwapens kunnen bij een dergelijke directe ontmoeting door de mens niet gebruikt worden), manifesteert God zich in een allesverzengende gloed. Wellicht worden velen in de verzamelde legers van de Antichrist zich nog in dat laatste moment voor hun vernietiging bewust van hun vreselijke vergissing en van de onzinnigheid van hun opzet, als zij de strijdmacht van JHVH plotseling van het ‘einde des hemels’ zien verschijnen (Ap. 16, 13-16 verg. Jes. 13, 3-5; Zef. 3, 8; Jes. 5, 26; 24, 21-22). Maar voor zij zich hun ontzetting geheel bewust zijn barst de atmosfeer in een helle gloed open en verheffen zich de vuurkolommen en rookpilaren boven de miljoenen doden van Harmageddon, het ‘hoge neerhouwen’.

Met de onttroning van de Tegenstander is het wereldgericht beëindigd. De omvang en de intensiteit der eindgerichten zijn zodanig dat zij het aanzien en het nog resterende leven op aarde volkomen wijzigen zullen. Waar steden waren zullen kraters zijn, gebergten zijn verzonken en andere zijn ontstaan; zeebeddingen en rivierlopen zullen ingrijpend gewijzigd zijn en ook de klimatologische omstandigheden zullen anders worden. De gehele beschaving zoals wij die kennen gaat en onder. Al zou deze toren van Babel ‘ten hemel opgeklommen zijn’, niets kan haar redden. De ‘torenhuizen’ zijn verwoest en machtige steden zijn van hun fundamenten gewenteld (Jer. 51, 53, 58; Jes. 2, 15; 30, 25). De machines zullen versmolten en uiteengesprongen zijn of zij staan onbruikbaar en werkloos. Alle handel is lamgelegd en goud en zilver ligt als waardeloos slijk op de verlaten straten (Jes. 2, 20; Ez. 7,19). Kunstschatten, de ‘gewenste schilderijen’ zullen niet meer bestaan en ‘geen kunstenaar zal nog worden gehoord’ (Jes. 2, 16; Ap. 18, 22; Jes. 24, 8). Ook buiten de steden is de aarde niet gespaard. Het grootste deel van de velden is verzengd door vuur, veel geboomte is verschroeid en het gewas is over de gehele aarde vernield of beschadigd door ongekend hevige hagelstormen (Ap. 8, 7; 16, 21). De uit zijn balans geraakte planeet heeft overal ontzaglijke aard- en zeebevingen teweeggebracht, verwoestende cyclonen en overstromingen. De wereld zal grotendeels een woestenij geworden zijn, maar, ondanks deze geweldige catastrofen en de positieverandering van de planeet, zal zij niet vergaan. De gerichten hebben primair een positieve betekenis: de definitieve zuivering van de luciferische machten en het opruimen van alle barrières die het Koninkrijk Gods op aarde in de weg staan. Het richten van God is recht maken, d.w.z. de wereld overeenkomstig zijn liefde en gerechtigheid nieuw maken. Daarom behoren de eindgerichten reeds tot de aioon van de ‘wederoprichting aller dingen’. Om alles weer op te richten moet eerst alle vuil en verderf vernietigd worden en alles wat neertrekt en ondermijnt verwijderd zijn.

De verwoestingen en veranderingen op het aardoppervlak zullen dienstbaar gemaakt worden aan het messiaanse rijk. Wijzigingen in de stand van de aarde t.o.v. de zon en veranderingen in de aardse atmosfeer zullen de vruchtbaarheid in het messiaanse rijk tot ongekende hoogte opvoeren. De in uitzicht gestelde vruchtbaarheid van woestijnen en andere dorre gebieden zal waarschijnlijk niet alleen het gevolg zijn van grote irrigatiewerken, maar veeleer samenhangen met de tijdens de grote catastrofen gewijzigde zeebeddingen en rivierlopen. In het algemeen kan gezegd worden dat de eindgerichten de weg banen voor het messiaanse rijk. Met de vernietiging der luciferische machten en de komst van Christus/Messias wordt alle valse religie van de wereld verbannen. Alle politieke en economische macht wordt gebroken en alles wat de mens weerhoudt om tot het volkomen mens-zijn te komen wordt uitgezuiverd. Het streven naar een aards paradijs naar menselijke maat, met uitsluiting van de Volkomen Mens, eindigt in een volkomen debacle. Alle pogingen tot zelfverlossing in religieuze, politieke, maatschappelijke en culturele concepties, worden ontmaskerd als luciferische begoocheling en zij zullen stuklopen op fundamentele menselijke onmacht. De hoogmoedige mens, die het werk van eigen handen verafgoodt, eindigt, sidderend voor de verschrikking van JHVH, in de holten en spelonken van de aarde. Na de gerichten is de wereld als een ongeploegd land, gereed om het zaad van een nieuwe bloei te ontvangen, waartussen geen onkruid meer kan opschieten.


De doorbraak van universeel heil

Aan het einde van deze visie gekomen kunnen wij niet alleen kort zijn, maar wij zijn ook wel gedwongen hier zeer schetsmatig te werk te gaan. De bijbel biedt ons geen concrete voorstelling van de voleinding van Gods heilsplan. De hierop betrekking hebbende voorstellingen kunnen niet in een ordelijk schema geperst worden, zonder een subjectieve visie al te zeer als geldende waarheid te poneren.

Daarom beperken we ons tot bepaalde noties, suggesties en beelden, die overigens geen anti-climax behoeven te vormen, mits men beseft dat juist de voleinding het onuitsprekelijke en onvergelijkbare inhoudt.

Zo kunnen wij aan de hand van de bijbel onmogelijk de overgang van het historische naar het eeuwige schetsen. Het ‘hoe’ van deze ontstijging aan de ons bekende dimensies en realiteiten is verborgen.

Het eeuwig Koninkrijk Gods in zijn volkomenheid laat geen enkele adequate en concrete beschrijving toe. Hier en daar is in onze voorgaande beschouwingen over multi-dimensionale lichamelijkheid en kennis misschien iets aangeduid over de hemelse heerlijkheid. Wellicht kunnen de geboden voorstellingen over energetisch bewuste structuren en de gelijkvormigheid aan Christus iets doen ‘proeven’ van de onpeilbare hoogten en diepten van het eeuwig leven in ‘de hemelse gewesten’, maar het blijft hier toch bij beelden.

In zoverre het om het a a r d s e Koninkrijk Gods gaat kunnen verschillende profetieën ons enige indrukken verschaffen over het eeuwige leven op de nieuwe aarde, maar ook hier is geen concretisering mogelijk, temeer daar de voorstellingen over het messiaanse interim-rijk (a.h.w. een ‘voorschot’ op het eeuwige rijk op aarde) ten dele heenreiken over deze nog betrekkelijk bescheiden aanloop tot de volkomenheid.

In hoofdstuk III van dit laatste deel (pag. 386-392) is reeds een en ander over het messiaanse interimrijk gezegd, o.a. dat deze theocratie nog als historisch beschouwd moet worden. De grenzen tussen de profetie die over deze komende theocratie spreekt en die over het eeuwige rijk handelt, zijn vaag en moeilijk te onderscheiden.

Laten wij volstaan met enige bijbelse noties over de betekenis en de eigenaardigheden van deze theocratie, waarbij wij vooral dienen te beseffen dat het in déze theocratie nog slechts om het b e g i n van het aardse Koninkrijk Gods op aarde gaat en n i e t om de eeuwige volkomenheid. De inleiding tot het eeuwig Godsrijk op aarde moet — zoals reeds eerder opgemerkt — als een theocratie beschouwd moet worden. Het is de nog betrekkelijke vervulling van de grote heilsbeloften voor Israël en de volken, betrekkelijk vooral omdat in dit interim-rijk het selectieprincipe nog wordt toegepast,

Met Christus’ wederkomst op aarde laat het zich naar onze overtuiging aanzien dat Israël een dominerende heilsfunctie zal krijgen in dit ‘overgangsrijk’ naar de volkomenheid. Men kan zich dit zo veel omstreden rijk, dat in de Godsheerschappij manifest wordt, voorstellen als een wereldomvattende theocratie, waarin de heerschappij van Christus en de in hem geïncorporeerde gemeente bemiddeld zal worden aan het na de eindgerichten tot dienst aan zijn messias gezuiverde en afgezonderde overblijfsel van Israël.

Het overblijfsel uit de eindgerichten bestaat — naar ons gevoelen — uit de levenden in Israël, de overlevenden uit de christenheid die niet tot de gemeente behoorden, de overlevenden uit de Islam en de overlevenden uit de heidenen. Het zijn deze categorieën voor zover wij thans kunnen zien die de bevolking van het interim-rijk uitmaken. Het unieke van hun positie is, dat zij, in tegenstelling tot alle andere mensengeslachten onder de directe heerschappij van de Volkomen Mens die God is, gesteld worden!

Zij kunnen onder de meest gunstige condities tot het beeldschap van de Volkomen Mens komen, omdat zij niet meer onder luciferische invloeden behoeven te leven, bevrijd zijn van alle religieuze begoocheling en letterlijk door God zelf zullen worden onderricht. Zij hebben de volkomen debacle van het eigengerechtige menszijn gezien, zij hebben de ontmaskering van het luciferische karakter van onze wereld aanschouwd en zij zullen overdekt worden met ‘plasregens van zegen’, zodat er geen enkele verontschuldiging voor opnieuw ‘het doel missen’ (zondigen) overblijft. Deze mensheid staat in de voorhof van het eeuwige Godsrijk op aarde en men zal dit ook ervaren en weten. Wie dan nog weerstreeft doet dit niet meer uit onkunde, maar uit bewuste afkeer en rebellie tegen God en zijn wereldorde.

De zin van het messiaanse interim-rijk kan verschillend verklaard worden. Heilshistorisch betekent het de aan het eeuwige Godsrijk voorafgaande wederoprichting van alle dingen die door het luciferische kwaad verwrongen, ondermijnd, bedorven en vernield zijn. Het toont ook aan dat, ondanks alle schijn van het tegendeel in de voorgaande eeuwen, Christus alle heerschappij heeft; de ‘knecht’ is tot stomme verbazing van allen de Rechter en de Koning. In de derde plaatst wil God nu aanschouwelijk en empirisch aantonen dat de mens geheel en al van hem afhankelijk en op hem aangelegd is. Hij kan wel in vrijheid het kwaad verkiezen en doen, maar dan is hij ook geen mens meer, dan is hij vervallen van het enige wat hem tot mens maakt: het beeldschap. In het messiaans interim-rijk is de hoedanigheid van het beeldschap duidelijk. Alle valse beelden zijn weggenomen en het ware Beeld is temidden der volken opgericht. Het nastreven van het beeldschap was in de voorgaande tijden waardevoller omdat het een waagstuk door het geloof was. In dit gelovig streven naar het beeldschap lag de rechtvaardiging van het mens-zijn, ondanks alle zonden en fouten, ondanks alles wat tegen de werkelijkheid van het Beeld scheen in te druisen. Daarom worden de gelovigen die het manifeste Godsrijk niet hebben beleefd, maar het hebben verwacht en uit deze hoop hebben geleefd, in een hogere staat van de hiërarchie in het Godsrijk geplaatst, dan die van de theocratie. Het voorrecht in dit rijk te mogen leven, waarin men Gods heil twijfelloos ervaart, wordt voor allen die dit heil niet hebben gezien maar er wel in hebben geloofd, nog groter door het uitzicht op de heerlijkheid in het eeuwige Rijk.

Het ‘richten van de volken in alle rechtmatigheid’ en het ‘leren van Gods wegen’ in dit rijk zien wij overigens als geen gemakkelijk en moeiteloos verkregen heil! Het messiaans regiem is wel liefdevol en van een onvergelijkelijke heilzaamheid, het gaat in ervaring en geluk ver uit boven alles wat wij kennen, maar het is ook uiterst gestreng. De volken zullen worden gehoed met een ijzeren scepter (Ps. 2, 9; Ap. 2, 26-27; 12, 5; 19, 15) en de weerspannigen zullen uitgezuiverd worden.

Er is hier sprake van een theocratie, onvergelijkbaar met alle tegenwoordige staatkundige en politieke systemen. De Christusheerschappij is absoluut en vordert absolute onderwerping, aldus de voorstellingen.

Christus is dan niet meer de transcendente Godheid die men vrijblijvend kan ‘aanvaarden’ of verwerpen en niet meer de ‘godsdienststichter’ die men onder andere godsdienststichters kan rangschikken. Letterlijk zal Christus Koning over de gehele mensheid heersen, ook al is zijn tegenwoordigheid niet constant manifest en wordt zijn gezag bemiddeld aan de troon van David.

Wereldomvattende theocratie

In de hier en daar nogal vlegelachtige, maar niettemin geestige reactie op een door ons in ‘In de Waagschaal’ gepubliceerd artikel ‘De nadagen van het christendom en de Dag van Christus’, stelde een redacteur van het Amsterdamse studentenweekblad ‘Propria Cures’ zich de theocratie voor als ‘dominee Zandt op een pauwentroon, vanuit de Alblasserwaard de wereld regerend en tegen de tijd misschien wel de ruimte’. Met alle respect voor de inmiddels overleden ds. Zandt schreven we in ons weerwoord, dat een dergelijke ‘theocratie’ ons zou nopen in de Biesbosch onder te duiken.

Hiermee is hopelijk het eventuele misverstand uit de weg geruimd, dat de theocratie, zoals in dit hoofdstuk bedoeld, een politieke conceptie zou zijn. Deze menselijke conceptie van een kerkstaat, met een pretentie van een aan kerkelijke politici bemiddeld ‘Goddelijk gezag’, mag volgens het woordenboek ‘theocratie’ heten, zij is in volkomen tegenspraak met en zelfs een flauwe schaduw van wat wij op grond van de bijbelse profetie onder theocratie moeten verstaan. In het vervolg van deze verhandeling moeten wij daarom in het geheel niet denken aan bekende of theoretisch mogelijke bestuursvormen, want dé theocratie sluit alle politieke concepties en activiteiten juist geheel uit!

Intussen had de redacteur van ‘Propria Cures’ er wel iets van begrepen, in zoverre het gaat om een centraal en absoluut, wereldomvattend gezag.

Theocratie houdt in: de zintuigelijk waarneembare, objectieve kenbare en aan geen twijfel onderhevige Godsheerschappij over de menselijke samenleving. Een onvoorwaardelijk Godsgezag, waarin religieuze projectie en subjectieve religieuze beelding zijn doorbroken door de objectieve ervaring van Gods aanwezigheid en regiem.

In de theocratie zijn alle religieuze, culturele, maatschappelijke en politieke strevingen en activiteiten opgeheven en doorbroken door een geheel op God en zijn leiding gerichte mondiale samenleving. Het theocratisch rijk betekent het einde van alle ‘ismen’, van politieke machtsgroeperingen en partijen, van commerciële belangengroepen en anonieme machten, opportunistische beïnvloeding, corruptie, intriges, uitbuiting en oorlog. Geen Utopia, maar niettemin een in regering en wetten concreet wereldbestuur, waaraan de gehele mensheid zich moet onderwerpen.

Een andere begripsverwarring schuilt in de opvatting van theocratie als priesterheerschappij. Men kan immers iedere priesterheerschappij tot en met de rooms-katholieke kerkstaat in de middeleeuwen en het wereldvreemde regiem van de Dalai Lama theocratisch noemen. Dit is evenwel een bloot godsdienst-historische karakterisering, die niets te maken heeft met de manifeste Godsregering van het messiaanse rijk. De profetie biedt ons het perspectief van een aan demonische krachten en menselijke onmacht bezweken wereld (waartoe ook de religies worden gerekend), waarin God met geweld ingrijpt en redt. De christelijke kerkstaat greep eigenmachtig vooruit op dit perspectief, door het aanwenden van religieuze en politieke middelen, die zich in niets onderscheidden van andere machtsmiddelen waaraan menselijke onmacht inherent is en die dus wel moesten falen. Het aanvankelijk zuivere type van theocratie vinden wij slechts in het unieke bestel van oudtestamentisch Israël. Daar was de Godsheerschappij wel bemiddeld aan priesters, profeten en koningen, maar de presentie van God werd toch door het volk ervaren in tekenen, verbondsluiting, sjechina en de telkens weerkerende ‘Godssprake’ in de profetie. Toch is ook deze theocratie nog slechts een type van de wereldomvattende theocratie in het messiaanse rijk. De messiaanse profetieën over de ‘Gouden Eeuw’ schilderen een wereld, waarin ‘de kennis van God de aarde zal bedekken als de wateren de bodem der zee’ (Jes. 11, 9).

Tenslotte moet in deze begripsbepaling nogmaals worden gewezen op een mogelijke, maar onjuiste identificatie van de theocratie met het ‘totale’ Koninkrijk Gods. In hoofdstuk III werd aandacht geschonken aan de verschillende gestalten en fasen van het Koninkrijk Gods. Zoals de wezenlijke ecclesia een alleen voor de gelovigen in Christus kenbare gestalte is van het Koninkrijk Gods, moet ook de theocratie in het messiaanse rijk als een gestalte en fase beschouwd worden, maar nu manifest voor allen die er in leven. De theocratie in het messiaanse interim-rijk is nog een eindige, historische fase in het zich vanuit het ongeziene en beperkte, tot het manifeste en universele ontvouwende koninkrijk Gods. In de theocratie zijn wel de luciferische machten geëlimineerd en leeft de mensheid onder de gunstigste voorwaarden, die geen beroep op onmacht en onkunde meer toelaten, maar dit Rijk kenmerkt zich nog door een ontwikkeling naar een definitieve keuze voor of tegen God en door voorgewende onderwerping van sommigen. In het voltooide Koninkrijk echter is alle ontwikkeling en geschiedenis op het feilbare menselijke vlak opgeheven en is al het eindige ‘verslonden’ in de eeuwigheid.

In deze ruwe schets van het begrip ‘theocratie’ is het niet overbodig vooral de eigenaardigheden op religieus gebied onder het oog te zien. De eigen aard en andersoortigheid is duidelijk, als wij ons realiseren, dat het hier gaat om een manifeste, objectief kenbare Godsopenbaring voor de gehele dan levende mensheid, volkomen ontheven aan de subjectiviteit van geloof of religieuze voorstelling! De manifeste theocratie impliceert het plaatsmaken van alle speculatieve religie voor de objectief kenbare presentie van God. De theocratie houdt dus ook in de doorbraak van alle religieuze projectie en alle vormen van atheïsme, door de manifestatie van de levende God. In de theocratie worden alle religieuze visies opgelost in de aanschouwelijkheid en de ervaring van een door God geleide samenleving. Deze samenleving is zodanig, dat niemand een tegen het theocratisch bestel gerichte activiteit kan rechtvaardigen door een beroep op onkunde of wantoestanden. Alle opportunistische activiteit onder de dekmantel van idealisme is in de theocratie onmogelijk en wordt ontmaskerd. Deze en vele andere eigenaardigheden zijn bepalend voor de ‘vreemdheid’ van onze beschouwingen over dit onderwerp. Zij vereisen, naast een onbevooroordeelde openheid voor het thema, een zo groot mogelijke distantie van traditionele gevormde, emotioneel bepaalde en erfelijk belaste bewustzijns-inhouden, denkvormen en voorstellingen. Dit impliceert ook distantie van het christendom in zijn algemeenheid, omdat het gevaar groot is dat de theocratie als speculatieve metafysica van het christendom wordt beschouwd, terwijl de theocratie in feite een voor-christelijk, boven-christelijk en post-christelijk gegeven is!

In het licht van de profetie moet immers ook het christendom gerekend worden tot de voorbijgaande cultuurgestalten en religies die in de theocratie gezuiverd zullen opgaan of verdwijnen. Het messiaans interim-rijk is géén ‘christelijk’ rijk; het is een ‘Christus/Messiaans-Rijk’, waarin Christus in een totaal andere relatie tot de mensheid staat dan hij in de ‘christelijke eeuwen’ tot zijn gelovigen stond. De eigen aard van de theocratie bepaalt daarom ook het eigen-aardige van het thema in verhouding tot vertrouwde verschijnselen en beelden als het christendom.

Geheel ten onrechte, maar historisch wel verklaarbaar, zoals wij hiervoor reeds betoogd hebben, wordt de profetie over het messiaanse rijk in de traditioneel kerkelijke theologie meestal geheel betrokken en ‘hineininterpretiert’ op kerk en christendom. De relatie tussen profetie, Koninkrijk Gods, kerk en christendom is in de theologie nauwelijks uitgewerkt. Wij volstaan hier met op te merken, dat niets het inzicht in de profetie over het komende Godsrijk meer blokkeert en in het algemeen de eschatologie zozeer schaadt dan de vereenzelviging — of het niet onderscheiden — van deze begrippen.

Zonder de eigen waarde en betekenis van het christendom als zodanig te willen aantasten moet hier de volle nadruk worden gelegd op de theocratie als de alle religie en cultuur afbrekende en doorbrekende macht van buiten de menselijke verworvenheden! Hierbij dient de theocratie als dwingende en manifeste Godsheerschappij over de gehele mensheid nadrukkelijk te worden onderscheiden van de kerk, die immers de vrijwillige en voor de wereld onkenbare geloofsgemeenschap met Christus is. Tevens moet de theocratie worden onderscheiden van het christendom als complex van subjectieve gevoelens en gedachten over God en zijn Rijk en de daarmee gepaard gaande strevingen en activiteiten. Men kan het christendom immers wel beschouwen als de grootheid, die aan de bijbel en aan de historische ontwikkeling ontleende denkbeelden draagt, ontwikkelt en toepast, maar dit wil natuurlijk niet zeggen, dat het christendom ook identiek is aan de objectieve werkelijkheid achter deze voorstellingen en praktijken. Wat begripsmatig onder de noemer van het ‘christendom’ wordt gerekend, kan in werkelijkheid daaraan ontheven of zelfs daarmee in strijd zijn.

Een op de profetie gebaseerde verhandeling over de theocratie en in het algemeen over de ‘laatste dingen’, kan geen ‘christelijke’ conceptie zijn in de zin die men gewoonlijk aan het begrip ‘christelijk’ verbindt. Zoals het in de profetie geschetste Godsrijk op aarde ook het christendom in al zijn gestalten en ambivalente eigenschappen corrigeert en reduceert, zal een consequente bestudering van de theocratie eveneens deze distantie in acht moeten nemen. Talrijk theologische en wijsgerige beschouwingen, zowel bestrijdend als belijdend, blijven in de heilloze identificatie van onderling onvergelijkbare grootheden als kerk, christendom en theocratie steken. Dan wordt het christendom als immanente verschijningsvorm van christelijk denken en doen, ten onrechte uitgangspunt en criterium bij de beoordeling van transcendente potenties en kwaliteiten.

Wij mogen uit het manifeste karakter van de Godsopenbaring in de komende theocratie opmaken, dat het karakter van het geloof anders zal zijn dan thans. De ervaring van de theocratie moet in bepaalde dimensies van het menselijk bewustzijn een andere geloofsrelatie opleveren dan wij nu onder geloof verstaan. Van geloof in de zin van ‘voor waar houden’ en ongeloof in de zin van ‘voor niet waar houden’ kan in een manifeste Godsheerschappij zoals wij ons die voorstellen geen sprake meer zijn. De door de dan levende mensheid waargenomen en ervaren wederkomst van Christus, de profetie over een zintuigelijk waarneembare sjechina, die wij moeilijk anders dan in een messiaans rijk kunnen plaatsen, de geprofeteerde straffen bij ongehoorzaamheid wijzen heen naar een zekerheid van Christus’ tegenwoordigheid die de wereld geheel en al beheerst, ook al is zij dan nog niet volkomen.

Het ongeloof kan zich in een dergelijke situatie niet meer beroepen op de onkenbaarheid van God zodat existentieel ongeloof dan uitgesloten zal zijn. De nog onvolkomen, zondige trekken in het interimrijk (laten wij hierbij niet vergeten dat ook de ‘wederoprichting aller dingen’ een proces in de tijd is) zijn reeds uiteengezet in hoofdstuk III van dit deel, waarom wij er niet meer op terugkomen. Allen zullen dan wel de aanwezigheid van Christus, al dan niet bemiddeld, moeten aanvaarden en ‘alle knie zal zich voor hem buigen’, maar daarbij mag in déze fase nog niet verwacht worden dan allen zich met hart en ziel aan hem zullen overgeven. Het openlijke, twijfelloze karakter van de Christus-heerschappij op aarde nazijn wederkomst, leent zich bij uitstek tot een dwingende keuze van de na de eindgerichten overgebleven mensheid voor of tegen Christus, aan wiens ‘bestaan’ dan overigens door niemand meer getwijfeld kan worden.

In de theocratie kan het ongeloof uitsluitend authentiek zijn, daar het geloofs-‘object’ aanwezig is en voor geen religieuze twijfel vatbaar kan zijn. Ongeloof in de theocratie is de oerzonde van het niet willen buigen voor God en zijn orde, ondanks het evidente heil. Ongeloof in de theocratie betekent dan ook gehuichelde onderwerping, die tenslotte zal worden ontmaskerd als bewuste gewilde verwerping van Beeld en beeldschap.

Wat de hoedanigheid van het geloof tijdens de theocratie aangaat, zal zich dit naar ons gevoelen onderscheiden van het tegenwoordige geloof door aanschouwelijkheid en a-religiositeit. Het geloof is dan ervaring en kennis geworden, óók in verstandelijke zin! De religieuze voorstelling moet dan opgaan in de ervaring van de realiteit.

De eigenaardigheid van geloof en ongeloof in het interim-rijk schuilt vooral in de omstandigheid, dat beide overeenstemmen in de zekerheid van Gods aanwezigheid op aarde, maar verschillen in de verhouding tot God.

Hoe moeten wij ons voorstellen dat de bestaande religies zich in dit radicale christocratisch/messiaans bestel (waarin de volkomenheid nog niet bereikt is) zullen voegen?

Reeds werd gesteld dat wij mogen veronderstellen dat de manifeste Christusheerschappij over alle volken in de theocratie alle subjectieve religieuze voorstellingen en projecties moet doorbreken. Wij kunnen hieruit niet anders besluiten dan dat alle religies tenslotte zullen opgaan in de dienst aan de Christus/Messias en de wereldorde die hij zal stichten en ontwikkelen tot volkomenheid.

Wat het christendom betreft moeten wij aannemen dat vele christendom aanhangers uit de periode der eindgerichten en de antichrist, die geen leden van het Christuslichaam waren, tijdens deze ‘grote verdrukking’ reeds wezenlijk tot Christus gekomen zijn. De overigen, voor zover zij de eindgerichten kunnen hebben overleefd, zullen zich op gelijke voet met de andere religies aan het koningschap van Christus moeten onderwerpen.

Begrippen als ‘christelijke’, ‘post-christelijke’ en ‘pre-christelijk’ kunnen in de theocratie niet meer terzake doen. Naar onze overtuiging schept de theocratie uitsluitend een relatie tussen de Koning-messias en de mens, afgezien of deze ‘pre-christelijk’ of ‘post-christelijk’ is. Strikt genomen zou men de post-christelijke mens in de theocratie beter pre-christelijk kunnen noemen, daar hij in het christendom nooit aan Christus is toegekomen. De in de theocratie aan Christus onderworpen volken zijn dan ook geen ‘christelijke’ volken, het zijn post-christelijke volken en niet-christelijke volken, die in een totaal andere relatie tot Christus moeten staan dan de werkelijke christenen vóór de wederkomst. In tegenstelling tot de met Christus verenigde gemeente (gelijkvormigheid, eenheid van bewustzijn en lichamelijkheid in het universum) die mét Christus heersen zal, is de mensheid in de theocratie onderworpen aan deze universele heerschappij.

Over Israël behoeft in dit verband nauwelijks nog iets te worden gezegd. De belangrijkste elementen van Israëls voorzeggende profetie zijn op Israëls centrale heilsfunctie in de post-christelijke theocratie gericht. De religie van Israël is theocratisch gericht en messiaans. In de theocratie zullen vele beloften uit het Oude Testament/Tenach aan Israël vervuld worden in het volkomen Godsrijk op aarde zal alles wat ooit door JHVH over Israëls heil gezegd is vervuld worden. Het is in de eerste plaats Israëls messias, die de wereld regeren zal en de volken zal hoeden. Israël zal volgens de profetie het instrument zijn waardoor het post-christelijke messiaanse heil tot de volken komt, zoals het in het verleden het messiaanse heil voor voor de gemeente van Christus heeft voortgebracht. In de theocratie zal de profetie aan Abraham, Izaäk en Jakob ‘in U zullen alle volken der aarde gezegend worden’ tot wereldwijde werkelijkheid worden.

De toekomstige theocratische wereld moet onvergelijkbaar anders zijn dan de onze. Alle openlijke en anonieme tyrannie zal van de aarde verbannen worden en alle negatieve beïnvloeding en prikkeling verdwijnen. Corruptie en intriges zijn daar ondenkbaar en politieke macht wordt vervangen door in Godskennis gefundeerd gezag. De volken zullen de oorlog niet meer leren, overal zal vrede heersen, de mensen zullen gerust en zeker kunnen wonen. De ‘leraren’ die Christus/Messias zullen vertegenwoordigen zullen overal aanwezig zijn en de mensen zullen directe leiding ontvangen. Zo zullen ook door de ‘vruchten van de Boom des Levens’ en ‘genezende wateren’ de volken genezen worden van alles wat hun in de weg stond om tot een door God gewild gemeenschapsleven te komen. Geleidelijk zal de werking van de door Christus uitgezonden krachten de dan levende mensheid tot volkomenheid brengen. Het ‘hoe’ van de overgang van ‘interim-rijk’ naar eeuwig Godsrijk op aarde is — zoals in het begin van dit hoofdstuk is opgemerkt — verborgen. Zeker is dat de profetie van een nieuwe, gereinigde en volkomen gelukkige mensheid spreekt en dat tenslotte God alles in allen zal zijn. Dat moeten wij niet als een statische toestand verstaan, maar als een dynamisch voortgaan ‘van heerlijkheid tot heerlijkheid’. Het eeuwige leven, direct geput uit de onmetelijke diepten en hoogten van Gods tegenwoordigheid onder de mensen.

Geloofd zij God, tot in de eeuwen der eeuwen!

Uit: IK BEN DIE IK BEN — dhr. H. Verweij


WEBSITE: El Shaddai Ministries / Pastor Mark Biltz . . . VERNIEUWD!


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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 13:41
Mar 142020

The Background to the New Testament / No. 3.

The Herodians

The Gospel writers have very little to say about this party. In fact, there are only three references in the New Testament to the word “Herodian” (Matt. 22:16; Mark 3:6; 12:13). It is quite evident from their name that they were either attached to, or the champions of, the familie of Herod. In either case, they would be concerned with promoting the interests of Herod, and be disturbed by the suggestion that this “Jesus of Nazareth” was none other than the King of the Jews. Hence , their opposition to the Lord was largely on political grounds.

In the first reference to them in Matthew twenty-two, they are seen acting together with the Pharisees, in order that they might entangle the Lord in His talk (verse 15). After a flattering overture, calculated to ensnare the Lord by putting Him off His guard, the question is asked, “What thinkest thou? Is it awful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (verse 17).

Had the Lord been but an ordinary man, He would now have found Himself on the horns of a dilemma. Before Him stood the representatives of two parties; the Pharisees, who, being champions of the religion of Israel, did not take kindly to paying tribute to Caesar, and the Herodians, who would take the contrary view. If the Lord had said that tribute was not to be given to Caesar, then He would be in trouble with the authorities, and the Herodians stood before Him as witnesses. If on the other hand, He had maintained that tribute was to be given to Caesar, then the Pharisees could claim that this One was not the people’s Messiah, for He bad them submit to the ruling power. The answer of the Lord was a masterpiece:

  • “And He saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar’s. Then saith He unto them, Render therefore Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s” (verse 20,21).

In the second reference (Mark 3:6), the Pharisees again take counsel with the Herodians, this time to consider “how they might destroy Him”. This action is particularly significant in the light of John 18:31:

  • “Then said Pilate unto them, Take ye Him, and judge Him according to your law. The Jews therefore said unto him, It is not lawful for us to put any man to death.

It would appear that at the time of the earthly ministry of Christ, the Jews were unable to exact the death penalty, except through the medium of the Roman power. Hence the Pharisees in Mark three seek the favour of the Herodian party who, having strong connections with the throne, would be in a position to bring about the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.

These references serve to show that the Herodians, although perhaps a small party, were powerful indeed, and their attachment to the throne of Herod made them useful allies to the Pharisees, although they were normally separated the one from the other by the beliefs which they held. It is important to note how the Devil can draw opposing factions together when it suits his purpose.

It has already been suggested that the Herodians were a branch of the Sadducees. This seems probable from comparing two passages of Scripture together.

  • “Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Matt. 16:6).
  • “And He charged them saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (Mark 8:15).

The contexts appear to be identical, but in one case speak of the leaven of the Sadducees, in another, that of Herod. Was the leaven of Herod spread through that part of the Sadducean party known as the Herodians?

Another passage which may bear upon the subject is Luke 23:1-7. The scene is the trial of the Lord before Pilate, who proclaims, “I find no fault in this man” (verse 4). But this does not satisfy the chief priests and the people, and they become more insistent, saying, “He stirreth up the people, teaching throughout all Jewry, beginning from Galilee to this place” (verse 5). Galilee! Was the mention of it accidental, or in the heat of the moment, or was there some cunning in drawing attention at this time to the fact that Christ was a Galilean? Note the effect upon Pilate, although he had already pronounced the Lord innocent.

  • “And as soon as he knew that He belonged unto Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent Him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time” (verse 7).

If Herod could be convinced that there was one who represented a challenge to his position as Tetrarch of Galilee, then the chief priests would have won the day. But Herod took this challenge lightly, and having mockingly dressed Him as a king, sent Him back again to Pilate (verse 11). This incident, however, served to draw Pilate and Herod together as friends, for they had previously been enemies, apparently over some dispute about jurisdiction.

The desire of the Herodians to strengthen the family of Herod by keeping it on good terms with Roman imperialism, was a fact made use of on more than one occasion by the Pharisees, who sought the downfall of the Lord. That the Pharisees had any dealings at all with men whom they must have considered despicable, is a measure of the hatred which they had toward the Lord.

The Zealots

This party is not referred to anywhere in the New Testament as such, but one of the Twelve Apostles is called Simon the Zealot (Luk. 6:15; Acts 1:13). This same Apostle is also called Simon the Canaanite in Matthew 10:4, although it is more strictly correct to refer to him as “the Cananaean”. This latter word appears to derive from the Hebrew qana, “to be hot, or zealous”. Whether Simon was so called because of his temperament, or from his association with the party of the Zealots does not appear from Scripture.

The Zealots have been identified with that party described by Josephus the historian as “the fourth sect of Jewish philosophy”, the founder of which was Judas the Galilean. This man led a revolt against Rome in A.D. 6 (Acts 5:37), and his party sought to be free from the Roman yoke, even if this freedom was to be obtained by dubious means. The Zealots seem to have been more than ready to lay down their lives for this cause. Josephus says:

  • “They also do not value dying and kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relations and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man Lord” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 18, chap. 1.).

H.A. Meyer, the German theologian, refers to them as, “a class of men who, like Phinehas (Num. 25:9), were fanatical defenders of the theocracy; and who, while taking vengeance on those who wronged it, were themselves frequently guilty of great excesses”. It says much for them however, that although they suffered a crushing defeat in A.D. 6, yet the spirit of the party alive for many years.

The possible connection of Simon the Apostle with this party is a point of interest in this regard, that the Lord is “no respecter of persons”. Amongst His followers He numbered one Matthew, a tax collector, a friend of the alien, and unpatriotic to Israel. On the other hand, Simon, as a Zealot, would be a tax hater, anti-Rome, and a fanatical patriot, quite the opposite of his fellow disciple, Mattheus, and yet made one in Christ.

Had the Lord not trod His earthly path with extreme care, He might well have been identified with the nationalistic party called the Zealots. If it could have been proved that He had declared Himself on the side of, or even encouraged this party, He would have quickly perished like Judas of Galilee. A wrong answer to the question, “Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?” (Matt. 22:17), might well have identified Him with the Zealots, and hence caused His downfall. Despite His clear answer on this occasion, the subsequent charge brought against Him at His trial, and voiced by the multitude was:

  • “We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Caesar, saying that He Himself is Christ a king” (Luke 23:2).

The Lord might well have commanded a great following from this party had His words not been so carefully chosen. The people were looking for a national deliverer, the Messiah, who would free them from the Roman yoke and restore again the Theocracy in Israel. This desire may be felt from such a passage as John 6:15:

  • “When Jesus therefore perceived that hey would come and take Him by force, to make Him a king, He departed again into a mountain Himself alone.”

The Lord’s awareness of what was in man saved Him on this occasion from being identified as another Judas. He knew that is was His right to sit on the Throne of David, but was also aware that there is “a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccles. 3:1).

It is interesting to compare the Zealots of old with the modern Zionist movement. The aims and objects of the latter are, it is true, stated in more refined terms, but the basic desire remains the same. The Zealots of old sought their ends from inside the Land (by force it is true), whereas the Zionist movement has prosecuted its cause from outside the Land. The manifesto declared by the London Zionist League in the year 1905 has the following words:

  • “The fundamental postulate of Zionism is that it is both inevitable and desirable that Jews should continue to maintain their separate identity. In races as in individuals there is an instinct of self preservation. Zionism seeks to justify this instinct which is ever active in the Jewish people by insisting that, if the Jew must survive, there must be something to be gained by his surviving. He must have a mission . . . The Zionist sees clearly that it is nothing less than a mockery to speak of the Jews as capable of fulfilling any mission whatever in their present state. For a Jewish mission one must have a Jewish people, united by a common Jewish consciousness and common Jewish ideals, not a collection of atoms maintaining a meaningless pretence at separateness when everything in their minds and lives which has any value depends wholly on their non-Jewish surroundings. One wants, in a word, a Jewish nation; and a Jewish nation is only possible in a land with the claims and historic associations of Palestine. The winning of Palestine is therefore essential as a means to the great end of enabling the Jews to play worthy of them in the world’s history.”

Since the above words were penned great things have taken place in the land of Israel. On May 14, 1948, the state of Israel was proclaimed in part of the former British Mandate Territory of Palestine. They are now a Middle Eastern power to be reckoned with. But has not this movement and success been of the flesh? And in this respect, is not modern Zionism like the zealous nationalism of old, seeking to bring about the purposes of God apart from His intervention? It would seem so.

But let none fail to see that these are signs of the times. The child of the flesh must come before the child of the promise; Ishmael precedes Isaac, Esau come before Jacob.

The Lord during His earthly ministry would not ally Himself with, nor encourage the cause of the party of the Zealots. There was a fulness of time coming when He Himself would take over the reigns of government. That time is again drawing near.



The Background to the New Testament / no. 4.


From the very earliest times provision had been made for “thy stranger within thy gates” (Exod. 20:10). The Imperial Dictionary says:

  • “The peculiar vocation of Israel, as the chosen nation set apart to the Lord by the covenant seal of circumcision, established a clear line of demarcation between the Israelites and surrounding nations; but it did not prevent the presence or preclude the toleration of strangers among them. The various occasions with brought them into peaceful or hostile contact with their neighbours belonging to other races necessarily led to the more or less temporary sojourn, wether voluntary or compulsory, of foreigners in Israel; and accordingly we find their existence recognized and their position defined by various precepts, positive and negative, from the time of the exodus and the establisment of a distinctive Jewish polity.”

The word “proselyte” is not to be found in the Authorized Version of the Old Testament, but the Greek proselutos occurs frequently in the Septuagint. The equivalent Hebrew word is ger, generally rendered “stranger” in the Authorized Version. The first occurrence of this Hebrew word is Genesis 15:13:

  • “And he said unto Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.”

This experience of the People of Israel is referred to by the Lord when He commands:

  • “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exod. 22:21).

These strangers within the commonwealth of Israel were, together with the Israelites themselves, forbidden to eat unleavened bread during Passover (Exod. 12:19), to work on the Sabbath (Exod. 20:10), to eat blood (Lev. 17:10), to practice idolatry (Lev. 20:2), to blaspheme the name of the Lord (Lev. 24:16), etc. Their lives were therefore very closely bound up with the People of Israel.

There were however, strangers and strangers, even as there were degrees of proselytes. Accordingly, when the ordinance of the Passover was appointed, it was stated, “This is the ordinance of the Passover; there shall no stranger eat thereof” (Exod. 12:43). Yet in verse forty-eight of the same chapter is written, “When a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it”. It should be observed that the Hebrew words resident in these two verses are different; verse forty-three referring literally to “a son of strangeness”, ben-nekar and verse forty-eight to “a sojourner”, ger. The usage of the latter word in this respect seems to indicate the willingness of the stranger to be identified with the People of Israel, to make their home his home. Such a desire is reminiscent of Ruth the Moabitess, who said to Naomi:

  • “For whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God” (Ruth 1:16).

Not all strangers however, would hold such strong feelings toward Judaism as this, and it must be understood that when the word “proselyte” is used in this article, it is used of all who were attracted in various degrees of intensity towards Judaism. Later, a twofold division of proselytes became apparent; those who by circumcision had obtained access to the privileges of Temple worship, and those who only professed a respect for the Mosaic religion, and attended as hearers in the synagogues (see The Life and Epistles of St. Paul by Conybeare and Howson). The proselytes referred to in Acts (2:10; 6:5; 13:43) were probably the former of these two classes, since other terms seem to be used by Luke to describe the latter (e.g. “devout”).

That Gentiles became proselytes during both Old and New Testament days is probably attributable to their recognition of the superiority of the religion of Israel. When, through the dispersion, Jewish communities sprang up in all parts of the then known world, Gentiles, unsatisfied with the heathenism around them, attached themselves to these communities.

Those described during Acts as “fearing God” (10:2), “worshipping God” (16:14), “devout” (13:50, 17:4), were probably some of these. Many of them appear to have been women. Dean Farrar, writing of New Testament days, says:

  • “Greek proselytes were at this period common in every considerable city of the empire” (The Life and Work of St. Paul).

Although many Gentiles joined themselves to Judaism of their own volition, it must be remembered that the Pharisees had a certain zeal for proselytism:

  • “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves” (Matt. 23:15).

Believing that the end justified the means, the Pharisees had few scruples in the means they employed to make a proselyte. Consequently, although confirming in some degree to Judaism, many proselytes still held heathen ideas, and so were hypocritical and reprobate. Hence the Lord’s words, “twofold more the child of hell”. The name “proselyte” thus came into disrepute, and Rabbinical writers had the strongest contempt for them. They called them “the leprosy of Israel”, and said “that they are not to be trusted to the twenty-fourth generation”. But those who appear in the Acts of the Apostles were evidently not of this character, for many of them embraced the faith and showed that their works were not evil (John 3:20,21). Josephus, writing of the Jews in Syrian Antioch, says:

  • “They also made proselytes of a great many of the Greeks perpetually, and thereby, after a sort, brought them to be a portion of their own body” (The Wars of the Jews, Book VII, chapter 3).

This quotation is particularly interesting when it be remembered what a large place Antioch had in the exercise of the Christian ministry.

Proselytes were present on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:10), and it is reasonable to suppose that they were also present in every synagogue into which the Apostles went. As the Acts period were on, it is probable that they furnished a majority of the new converts.

The references already made to the many women proselytes of the time is interesting in the light of certain passages in the Acts.

  • “But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts” (13:50).

It is known that the Pharisees exercised a great influence over women. By their pious professions they were able to “devour widows’ houses” (Matt. 23:14), and exert pressure on female proselytes to stir up their husbands against the Apostles. 2 Timothy 3:6 may also have some bearing upon this practice:

  • “For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts.”

When seen against such a background, the words of the Apostle Paul concerning women take on a new light.

The zeal of the Pharisees to proselytize was still present in those of the party which believed. When the Gentiles were added to the church, “certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed” (Acts 15:5) misunderstood the position. They viewed the coming in of the Gentiles as a making of proselytes, and this caused trouble, especially in Antioch and the South Galatian churches. Such misunderstanding called forth the council of Acts 15 and the Galatian epistle. The demand of these Pharisaic believers with respect to the Gentile converts, “that it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5) was negated by the Apostles, and no greater burden than four necessary things imposed upon them (Acts 15:28,29). Galatians 2 however, demonstrates how closes the Christian world once came to giving way to this Pharisaic tendency to proselytize, when even Peter and Barnabas were carried away, compelling the Gentiles, by their own actions, to Judaise (verses 11-14). How much is owed to the Apostle Paul from a human standpoint cannot be estimated, for he appears to have been the only one at this time who stood against the intrusion of rights. He opposed the circumcision of Titus, a Greek (verse 3), and withstood Peter to the face (verse 11). This latter action on the part of the Apostle evidently influenced Peter greatly, for when the council of Acts 15 was later held, he is found saying:

  • “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers or we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Acts 15:10,11).

(The evidence demonstrating that the letter to the Galatians was written before Acts 15, is presented in The Apostle of the Reconciliation by C.H. Welch, pag. 84-86.)

Although the position of the Gentile was clearly defined at this time, and despite the later revelation given to the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3) so evidently completely divorced from Judaism, yet has this Pharisaic tendency remained in all ages of the professing church. There have always been those who have sought to add to “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11) the “command . . . to keep the Law of Moses” (Acts 15:5). Both Catholics and Protestants have alike been guilty of this practice, apparently being unaware that it is written of “you Gentiles”:

  • “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens of the holiest of all, and of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19).

The proselytes of old were limited in their approach to the Lord by type and shadow. At best, they basked in the reflected glory of Israel. The present Gentile members of the Body of Christ have, in contrast to these, been made “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the Holiest of All in light” (Col. 1:12). Such blessedness is almost beyond belief, especially in contrast to what the Gentile was “in time past”, and it should bring forth from every member of this blessed company thanksgiving unto the Father.



The Background to the New Testament / No. 5.

The Samaritans

A Samaritan, according to the etymological significance of the word, is an inhabitant of the land of Samaria, but in the sense in which is found in Scripture, it has an ethnological aspect. It is used of that hybrid race which stood halfway between the Jews and the Gentiles. Note how these three peoples are distinguished from each other in Matthew 10:5,6:

  • “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Compare also Acts 1:8.

The origin of the Samaritans is to be traced to that period following the downfall of the Northern Kingdom, the ten tribes, Israel. The King of Assyria, having carried the original inhabitants of Samaria away to distant cities, repeopled the land with strangers. See 2 Kings 17:20-24:

  • “And the Lord rejected all the seed of Israel, and afflicted them, and delivered them into the land of spoilers, until He had cast them out of His sight . . . so was Israel carried away out of their own land to Assyria unto this day. And the King of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sephar-vaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the Children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities there.”

These strangers in time mixed with the original inhabitants of the land (it is doubtful whether they were all carried away), and the resulting hybrid race formed the nucleus of the Samaritans. Later, during Ezra-Nehemia period, a “mixed multitude”, separated from Israel and expelled from Jerusalem, were probably also absorbed among them. Thus, shortly after the return from Babylon, the Samaritans existed as a powerful nation in the centre of Palestine. The hatred which grew up between this people and the Jews dates from the time when Judah returned from the Babylonian captivity. When the children of the captivity began to rebuild their temple and their walls, the Samaritans offered their help:

  • “Now when the adversaries (Samaritans, verse 10) of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the Lord God of Israel; then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye do” (Ezra 4:1,2).

This offer was spurned by Israel, and these adversaries then set about to frustrate their purpose (verse 3-5). Involved in this opposition was one Sanballat who, according to an Aramaic papyrus discovered in 1909, was “governor of Samaria”. The various forms which his opposition took are noted in The Companion Bible at Nehemiah 2:10. They are all to be found in Nehemiah, and are grief (2:10), laughter (2:19), wrath and indignation (4:1-3), fighting (4:7,8), subtlety (6:1,2) and compromise (6:5-7).

A Sanballat is mentioned by Josephus as having built a temple on Mount Gerizim, but this testimony on this point is to be viewed with some suspicion as his chronology is evidently at fault. It is however possible, that Sanballat, after his failure to successfully oppose the building of the Temple at Jerusalem, did in fact build a rival temple for the Samaritans. (The interested reader is referred to The Antiquites of the Jews Book XI, chapter 8). Whatever be the truth of the foregoing, the fact remains that there did at one time exist on Mount Gerizim a temple, and even after its destruction by John Hyrcanus (over one hundred years before Christ) it remained a sacred site to the Samaritans.

After the death of Alexander the Great, when his kingdom had been divided amongst his four generals, a dispute concerning the true site of the Temple was brought before Ptolemy, the general to whom had been allotted Egypt and Palestine. Josephus records the event:

  • “Now it came to pass that the Alexandrian Jews, and those Samaritans who paid their worship to the temple that was built in the days of Alexander at Mount Gerizim, did now make a sedition one against another, and disputed about their temples before Ptolemy himself, the Jews saying that, according to the Law of Moses, the temple was to be built at Jerusalem; and the Samaritans saying that it was to be built at Gerizim. They desired therefore the king to sit with his friends and hear the debates about these matters, and punish those with death who were baffled . . . . By this speech and other arguments, Andronicus persuaded the king to determine that the temple at Jerusalem was built according to the Law of Moses, and to put Sabbeus and Theodosius to death” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XIII, chapter 3).

This dispute continued till the days of the Lord, when the woman of Samaria again brought it up in His presence (John 4).

There can be no doubt that Mount Gerizim was a hallowed site. Abraham built his first altar there (Gen. 12:6,7), as did also Jacob (Gen. 33:18-20), and the Lord commanded that His blessing should be put there:

  • “And it shall come to pass, wen the Lord thy God hath brought thee in unto the land wither thou goest to posses it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon Mount Ebal” (Deut. 11:29).

Note that Sichem and Shechem, mentioned in the first two of the previous three quotations, are one and the same, and originally represented a region in which the Mounts Gerizim and Ebal stood. Compare Sychar (John 4:5) and Sychem (Acts 7:16). Apart from the hallowed connections of Mount Gerizim, the Samaritans justified it as a place of worship from Deuteronomy 27:4,5:

  • “Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount Ebal . . . . And there shall thou build an altar unto the Lord thy God.”

The Samaritan Pentateuch reads, “Gerizim” for “Ebal”, and although this is thought to be a deliberate alteration, yet did the Samaritans rest their case upon it.

The relationship which existed between the Jews and the Samaritans during the Lord’s earthly ministry, is described for us in John 4:9:

  • “Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, how is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

The Greek word translated “dealings” is sunkraomai, and it requires some explanation. It is evident from the narrative that the Jews did have some dealings with the Samaritans, for “His disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat” (4:8). “The city” was Samaritan, and this implies two things: that the Jews did have dealings with them, and that the food sold must have been deemed kosher (or lawful). The lexicographer Parkhurst, recognizing the difficulty in the Authorized Version translation, quotes Dr. John Lightfood on the passage:

  • “Lightfood, however, I think more justly, interprets sunkraomai by ‘being obliged, or laying themselves under any obligation to, by accepting of favours from'” (Greek Lexicon).

Hence, having no dealings with would seem to imply “having no friendly intercourse with”.

The attitude of the Jews toward the Samaritans may be further seen from such a passage as John 8:48, where the Lord is accused, “Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a demon”. Note also the suggestion of the disciples in Luke 9:54, when certain Samaritans would not received the Lord. Yet did the Lord portray this people in a good light in contrast to Israel, when He gave the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37). and consider also, that of the ten lepers who were cleansed by the Lord. the one who turned back in thanksgiving was a Samaritan (Luke 17:11-19).

The Samaritans seem to have reacted favourably to the Gospel. This may be ascertained from the sequel to the Lord’s talk with the Samaritan woman. The woman, upon the return of the disciples from the city, left her waterpot, and, speaking to the men of that city, said, “Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did; is not this the Christ?” (John. 4:29). The reaction of the Samaritans was immediate, for “they went out the city and came unto Him” (verse 30). The Lord, seeing them afar off, said:

  • “Say not ye, there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest” (verse 35).

In verse 39, “Many of the Samaritans of that city believed on Him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that I ever did”, and, “Many more believed because of His own word” (verse 41).

When later, “Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them”, it is recorded that, “The people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake” (Acts 8:5,6). Luke also allies the church with Samaria (Acts 9:31), and refers to the brethren there (Acts 15:3). So the Samaritans, despite their origin, received the Word of God, proving again that God is no respecter of persons, a fact further emphasized by the willingness of the Lord to discuss with the woman of Samaria a subject as high and as holy as worship.



The Background to the New Testament / No. 6.

Temple & Priesthood

To build a temple for the Lord was the desire of David the King, and belonged to the period when, “the Lord had given him rest roundabout from all his enemies” (2 Sam. 7:1). But David was not allowed to fulfill this desire for he had been a man of war, and so the honour was reserved for his son Solomon. The building of this Temple represented the passing of the pilgrim stage and the establishing of the kingdom.

After the revolt of the ten tribes during the reign of Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, this Temple suffered a series of misfortunes. In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak King of Egypt came up against Jerusalem, and took many of the Temple treasures away (1 King 14:25-28). Later, during the reign of Asa King of Judah, more of its treasures were taken in order to establish a covenant with the King of Syria, so that the Norther Kingdom, ruled at this time by Baasha, might defeated (1 Kings 15:16-21). Thus did the Temple continue to suffer, until finally, the King of Babylon removed all te vessels, burnt it down and demolished the wall. God’s reasons for allowing such a thing to happen are given in 2 Chronicles 36:14-21:

  • “Moreover all the chief of the priests, and the people, transgressed very much after all the abominations of the heathen; and polluted the house of the Lord which He had hallowed in Jerusalem. And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by His messengers. Rising up betimes, and sending; because He had compassion on His people, and on His dwelling place: but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised His words, and misused His prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people, till there was no remedy. Therefore He brought upon them the King of the Chaldees . . . . He have them all into his hand. And all the vessels of the house of God, great and small, and the treasures of the house of the Lord . . . . all these he brought to Babylon. And they burnt the house of God, and brake down the wall of Jerusalem . . . . to fulfill the word of the Lord.”  

Under Ezra and Nehemiah the Temple and walls were rebuilt at the decree of Cyrus King of Persia (Ezra 1:1-4). This second Temple, like the first, also had its trials, suffering especially at the hands of Antiochus Epiphanes who set up “an abomination of desolation” upon the altar (1 Macc. 1:54). Later the Maccabees cleansed the Temple from this pollution, and turned the enclosure into a fortress. By the time of Herod the Great (appointed Procurator of Judaea by Julius Caesar in 47 B.C.) it had fallen into decay.

Herod, in accordance with his policy of conciliating the people, and possibly also in expiation of the atrocity he committed by exterminating the Sanhedrin, put the work in order to reconstruct the Temple. But this work was done in such a way that it did not appear to the building of a third edifice. The Imperial Bible Dictionary has the following comment:

  • Although it was an entirely new building which Herod projected and actually accomplished, yet his very object required that he should avoid conveying the idea of its being wholly new, and that he should rather appear aiming at the proper restoration and embellishment of the existing one. On this account he seems to have taken down the latter piecemeal, and put up the other in its place, so as to preserve the continuity of the edifice, and admit of its being still called, as it certainly was, the second temple.”

Herod’s temple was begun (according to The Companion Bible) in 20 B.C., and was still in the process of being built when the Lord walked this earth.

  • “Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple (naos), and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple (naos) in building, and wilt you rear it up in three days?” (John 2:19,20).

The Greek naos refers to the actual Temple building consisting of the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies, and should be distinguished from hieron which refers to the whole of the Temple courts. The other word translated “temple”, oikos (Luke 11:51), is really “house”, and is so translated in most of its occurrences. This distinction between the Greek words for “temple” must be taken as qualifying the statement concerning the unfinished work. In fact, according to Dean Farrar,

  • “The assertion of the Jews was not strictly accurate, for ho naos autos (as distinguished from to hieron), with all its porticoes, had been finished in eight or nine years” (The Life of Christ).

This suggests that the Jews (John 2:20) were referring rather to the length in which the whole project had been in hand. Work on this temple continued until A.D. 64, just six years before its destruction by fire under Titus.

The Temple which stood during the Lord’s earthly days was an attempt by Herod to endear himself to his Jewish subjects, an attempt which failed. And yet in spite of this origin and motive, the Lord identified Himself with it, calling it “My Father’s house (oikos)” (John 2-16). Note also Matthew 21:12,13:

  • “And Jesus went into the temple (hieron) of God . . . and said unto them, It is written, My house (oikos) shall be called The House (oikos) of Prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Later “My house” became “your house” (Matt. 23:38). Yet even after this reversal with its associated prophecy concerning the desolation of the Temple, and even after the crucifixion of the Lord, Peter and John (perhaps the two apostles most near to the Lord) go up to this same Temple (hieron) at the hour of prayer. From the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles it appears that the Temple was the centre of activity of the early church. Just as the Jewish believers of this day did not disassociate themselves from the synagogues, neither did the Apostles separate themselves from the Temple. The object of the Apostles with their call to repentance was not to begin a new calling, but to make ready the people of God for the coming back of their Messiah. The hope of Israel was centred in this Messiah, and the fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, “The Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple“.

For nineteen hundred years the People of Israel have been without a temple, and although an effort was made under the Emperor Julian to rebuild, this and all other aspirations in this direction have been frustrated. At this present time, the once sacred height is occupied by the Mosque of Omar. In order that Matthew 24 may be fulfilled, it would seem to be necessary that the Temple be rebuilt. Then will the prophecy of Daniel (Matt. 24:15) be fulfilled, and the great tribulation commence, leading, as that chapter indicates, to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The events in the Middle East are surely seen by the most casual observer to be leading up to this rebuilding.


Everything connected with the priesthood was intended to be symbolical and typical, and pointed forward to the Great High Priest and his work for man. The essential idea of the priesthood as, “mediation”, Dr. Edersheim writes:

  • “The Hebrew term for priest (kohen) denotes in its root meaning ‘one who stand up for another, and mediates in his cause'” (The Temple, its Ministry and Service at the time of Jesus Christ). This meaning can be felt from such a passage as Hebrews 5:1:
  • “For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices fro sins.”

Priesthood, in its widest sense, existed from the very earliest times. Before the Mosaic priesthood was instituted, the father was the priest to his own household. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Job performed this function (Gen. 12:7,8; 26:25; 33:19,20; Job 1:5). The priesthood of Melchizedek would seem to be the Scriptural exception to this rule, for even the patriarch Abraham recognized his greatness (Heb. 7:4). It was “after the order of” this man that Christ was priest (Heb. 7:15-17).

The people of Israel was a whole were intended to be “a kingdom of priests”, but this was dependent upon the keeping of certain conditions.

  • “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my convenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” (Exod. 19:5,6).

But within this conception, the firstborn in particular were looked upon as specially beloning to God. This was because of the deliverance effected for the firstborn when in the land of Egypt.

  • “All the firstborn are mine; for on the day when I smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt I hallowed unto me all the firstborn in Israel, both man and beast: mine shall they be; I am the Lord” (Num. 3:13).

Instead, however, of taking the firstborn, the Lord chose the tribe of Levi

  • “Bring the tribe of Levi near, and present them before Aaron the priest, that they may minister unto him . . . I have taken the Levites from among the Children of Israel instead of all the firstborn that openeth the matrix among the Children of Israel: therefore the Levites shall be mine” (Num. 3:,6,12).

Aaron and his sons in particular were chosen to “wait on their priests’ office” (verse 10), provided they satisfied the conditions of Leviticus 21:16-23.

The fixed duties of the priests included watching over the fire on the altar of burnt offerings that it should never go out (Lev. 6:12,13), offering a lamb every morning and evening and two lambs on the sabbath (Num. 28:3,4,9), attending to the golden lamp outside the veil (Exod. 27:20,21) and teaching and guarding the law of God (Lev. 10:11, see Mal. 2:7). In addition they were to be always at their post, ready to do the office of a priest for any Israelite who might require them. The high priest had the additional privileged duty of appearing before God once a year on the day of atonement.

There were thus three orders of ministers, corresponding with the three sections of the Tabernacle and later, the Temple.

  • The Levites were the appointed servants of the court, but from the holy place they were excluded on pain of death. The priests executed the ministry of the holy place, but were as solemnly prohibited from venturing beyond the veil which concealed the Most Holy. The priesthood culminated in the high priest, as mediator between God and the people” (Imperial Bible Dictionary)

From the time of David (although Jewish tradition places it earlier) the priesthood was arranged in 24 courses (1 Chron. 24). Each “course” did duty for a week, the days of which were further subdivided among the families which constituted the course. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was “of the course of Abia” (Luke 1:5).

It is beyond the scope of these articles to consider the history of the priesthood through the Old Testament. Attention must therefore be turned to the state at which that priesthood had arrived in New Testament days.



The Background to the New Testament / No. 7.

The priesthood (cont.)

When the voices of the prophets ceased the way was open for the rise of Rabbinism, and as its power and influence increased, so that of the priesthood declined. At the time of Christ, the Rabbinic party, the Pharisees, were in complete control in all religious and ritual matters. Dean Farrar writes:

  • “The wealth, rank, connections, and offices of the Sadducees gave them much worldly influence and authority, but in all religious and ritual matters the people sided so absolutely with the doctors of Pharisees that the Sadducees, even against their real views, were often compelled to conform” (The Life of Christ).

Were it not that the Sadducean priestly party were hand in glove with the ruling power, they would have had no place at all in Israel. The situation at the time of the Lord is apply put by Dr. Edersheim.

  • “Nor must we forget the powerful controlling influence with Rabbinism exercised. Its tendency . . . was steadily against all privileges other than those gained by traditionary learning and theological ingenuity. The Pharisee, or, rather, the man learned in the traditional law, was everything both before God and before man; ‘but this people, who knoweth not the law’, were ‘cursed’, plebeians, country people, unworthy of any regard of attention. Rabbinism applied these principles even in reference to the priesthood” (The Temple and its Services).

To be a priest, a man must satisfy the Sanhedrin on at least two counts: (a) genealogy, (b) physical perfection. Official records of descent were meticulously kept until the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in A.D. 70, when they were apparently lost. Priests also had to undergo a course of instruction, and before being allowed to officiate, were examined.

The distinction between the priest and Levite at the time of Christ indicated in the parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-35), is observed thus by Dr. Edersheim:

  • “Generally . . . on the Levites devolved the Temple police, the guard of the gates, and the duty of keeping everything about the sanctuary clean and bright. But as at night the priests kept watch about the innermost places of the Temple, so they also opened and closed all the inner gates, while the Levites discharged this duty in reference to the outer gates, which led unto the Temple mount (the court of the Gentiles), and to the ‘Beautiful gate’, which formed the principle entrance into the ‘court of the women'” (The Temple and its Ministry).

There can be no doubt that at this time the office of high priest carried with it very considerable influence. This can be seen in Acts 9:1,2 where the jurisdiction of the high priest is recognized in the synagogues of Damascus, 140 air-miles to the north of Jerusalem:

  • “And Saul . . . went unto the high priest, and desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way . . . he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.”

The possessor of the office had a house in the Temple, in addition to his own home in Jerusalem, and was entitled to certain marks of outward respect. According to the Rabbis, he was appointed by the Sanhedrin, and the office was to be held for life and was hereditary. But the high priesthood was interfered with, especially by Herod the Great, and became associated with crime and bribery. Dean Farrar writes of Herod that, “He trust into the high priesthood creatures of his own, of Egyptian and Babylonian origin.” Herod also interfered with the Sanhedrin, to whom even the high priest was answerable, and there can be no doubt that the assembly which condemned the Lord, was of a hybrid nature.

The association of the priests with the Sadducean party, and the fact that they had the chief share in the crucifixion of Christ, has been already noted. They appear on the scene largely at the end of the Lord’s ministry, after the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and they were very active during the early Acts period. A glance at the occurrences of “the chief priests” (hoi archiereis) found in Mark 15, is very revealing of the part they had in the crucifixion:

  • “The chief priests held a consultation . . . accused Him . . . delivered Him . . . moved people . . . mocking said among themselves with the scribes, He saved others; Himself He cannot save” (verses 1,3,10,11,13).

After the death of Christ, they, together with the Pharisees, persuaded Pilate (calling to mind the Lord’s prediction that after three days He would rise from the dead) of the necessity to secure the sepulchre and to set a guard. It was to these chief priests that the same guard reported after the resurrection of Christ, when they bribed them with much money to spread abroad the tale that, “His disciples came by night, and stole Him away while we slept” (Matt. 27:62-66; 28:2-4, 11-15). What the real feelings of these chief priests (who were of the Sadducean persuasion, denying the resurrection of the dead) were, after the report of the guard, can only be a matter of conjecture. They were greatly distressed, however, at the later teaching of the Apostles:

  • “And as they spake unto the people, the priest, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1,2).

Having arrested them, and charged them not to speak henceforth to any man in then name of “Jesus”, the Sanhedrin released the Apostles. But their continued activity in the Temple filled the high priest and his associates with anger:

  • “Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with indignation, and laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison” (Acts 5:17,18).

The miraculous escape of the Apostles during the night, when the angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, caused great perplexity to these Sadducees, and it seems that it was largely due to the wisdom of Gamaliel, a Pharisee, that the Apostles, having again been brought before the Sanhedrin, were delivered on this occasion (Acts 5:19-40). It is refreshing to read, just a few verses later, and in contrast to this, that “A great company of the priests were obedient to the faith (Acts 6:7).

Two words in particular are used in the New Testament in connection with the priesthood. They are hiereus, translated “high priest”, and “priest”, and archiereus, translated “chief priest”, “high priest”, and “chief of the priests”. The one reference where the word hiereus is translated “high priest” (Acts 5:24) is omitted by the best texts.

According to the Grimm-Thayer Lexicon, hiereus refers to “a priest; one who offers sacrifices and in general is busied with sacred rites”. Apart from its usage in the Gospels and Acts, of the priests living at that time, it is used in Hebrews in reference to Christ, Melchizedec and the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. It is used in the Book of Revelation, of believers.

Achiereus, a word used many times in the Gospels, Acts and the Book of Hebrews, but never outside of those books, is explained in the Grimm-Thayer Lexicon thus:

  • “(1). He who above all others was honoured with the title priest, the chief of the priests . . . (2). The plural archiereis . . .comprises, in addition to the one actually holding the high priestly office, both those who had previously discharged it and although deposed continued to have great power in the state . . . as well as the members of the families from which high priests were created, provided they had much influence in public affairs.”

The word is used in Hebrews particularly in reference to Christ. The situation with respect to the high priesthood at the time of Christ, has caused some consternation among Bible students. There can be no doubt that, at the time of the Lord’s trial, Caiaphas was high priest (Matt. 26:57; John 18:13,24), and yet, in Acts 4:6, Annas is called the high priest, whilst Caiaphas is given no title. In addition to this (in Luke 3:2, R.V.) there is mention of “the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas”, with reference to the time when “the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias”. The Companion Bible note on this last passage is:

  • “Caiaphas was the high priest as successor of Aaron; while Annas was the Nasi, or head of the Sanhedrin (as successor of Moses), and thus associated with Caiaphas in government.”

The note of H.A. Meyer is as follows:

“The reigning high priest at that time was Joseph, named Caiaphas . . . who had been appointed by Valerius Gratus, the predecessor of Pontius Pilate (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, chapter 2). His father-in-law Annas held the office of high priest some years before, until Valerius Gratus became procurator, when the office was taken away from him by the new governor, and conferred first on Ismael, then on Eleazar (a son of Annas), then on Simon, and after that on Caiaphas . . . But Annas retained withal very weighty influence (John 18:12,13), so that not only did he, as did everyone who had been archiereus, continue to be called by the name, but, moreover, he also partially discharged the functions of the high priest.”

Either or both of the above suggestions may be true, but it seems fairly obvious from the New Testament record, that Annas, the ex-high priest, exercised considerable power and influence. Dean Alford says of him:

  • “He had influence enough to procure the actual high priesthood for five of his sons, after his own deposition, Josephus Antiquities of the Jews Book XX, chapter 9).”

The character of Caiaphas, son-in-law to Annas, is seen clearly in his unconscious prophecy concerning the death of Christ for the people:

  • “And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all; nor consider it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not” (John 11:49,50).

The Sanhedrin had expressed their fear that, “The Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation” (verse 48) as a result of the following which the Lord would command, if allowed to continue with his miracles. Such was the attitude of these self-centred men. But Caiaphas was ahead of them, and saw in “this man” a victim, albeit innocent, by whom they could appease the suspicion of their conquerors. This attitude of Caiaphas lays open the character of the man.

To conclude this article on the priesthood, a few words from Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible may serve to emphasize the utter degradation into which the priesthood had come, shortly before the destruction of the Temple by Titus in A.D. 70.

  • “In the scenes of the last tragedy of the Jewish history the order passes away without honour, ‘dying as a fool dieth’. The high priesthood is given to the lowest and vilest . . . other priests appear as deserting to the enemy; it is from the priest that Titus receives the lamps, and gems, and costly raiment of the sanctuary. Priests report to their conquerors the terrible utterance, ‘Let us depart’, on the last Pentecost ever celebrated in the Temple. It is a priest who fills up the degradation of his order by dwelling on the fall of his country with a cold-blooded satisfaction, and finding in Titus the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. The destruction of Jerusalem deprived the order at one blow of all but an honorary distinction.”



The Background to the New Testament / No. 8.

The Sanhedrin

The word “sanhedrin” (or “sanhedrim”) does not occur in the A.V., the Greek sunhedrion being consistently translated “council”. In the LXX, the word is used in a general way of any session or assembly of persons deliberating or adjudicating. An example of this latter usage is found in Proverbs 22:10:

  • “Cast out a pestilent person from the council, and strife shall go out with him; for when he sits in the council be dishonours all” (LXX).

In the New Testament the word is used more specifically, referring to (a) the smaller tribunal or “council” which existed in every Jewish town in which a synagogue was to be found, its function being to judge less important cases, and (b) the Sanhedrin, the great “council” which met in the Temple at Jerusalem, and had supreme authority in Israel (but of course subject, at the time of Christ, to the Roman procurator).

The former usage is found in Matthew 10:17 and Mark 13:9, where the word is in the plural form:

  • “But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils.
  • “But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten.”

Most occurrences however, refer to the Sanhedrin at Jerusalem, sometimes designated “The Grand Sanhedrin” by authorities. The word sunhedrion, from sun together and hedra a seat, means literally, “a sitting together”.

Origin of the Sanhedrin

Jewish tradition traces the origin of the Sanhedrin to Numbers 11:16,17:

  • “The Lord said unto Moses, Gather unto Me seventy men of the elders of Israel . . . and bring them unto the tabernacle of the congregation, that they may stand there with thee . . . and I will take of the spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them; and they shall bear the burden of the people with thee.”

The Sanhedrin at the time of the Lord’s sojourn on earth was similarly constituted, being made up of seventy members (priests, Levites, scribes and notable members of high priestly families) plus the president (the High Priest). This body sat in the Temple precincts.

It is outside the scope of this article to trace the possible history of this body from Moses to Christ, but it may be observed that Ezekiel was given a vision of such a company (in connection with Israel’s idolotry), and an assembly which bestowed upon Simon (father of John Hyrcanus) the supreme power, referred to in the Apocrypha, may well have been such a body.

  • “So I went in and saw . . . the idols of the house of Israel . . . and there stood before them seventy men of the ancients of the house of Israel, and in the midst of them stood Jaazaniah . . . with every man a censer in his hand” (Ezek. 8:10,11).
  • “At Saramel in the great congregation of the priest, and people, and rulers of the nation, and elders of the country, were these things notified unto us . . . The people therefore, seeing the acts of Simon . . . made him their governor and chief priest” (1 Macc.14:28,35).

The Sanhedrin at the time of Christ

Mention has already been made in these articles of the interference of Herod the Great with the Sanhedrin. At one time he is said to have exterminated every member of this body except one, whose eyes he put out. Soon after this, he put into the High Priesthood men of Egyptian and Babylonian origin, who would of course preside over the Sanhedrin.

It would seem, in the light of this, that the body which condemned the Lord, was of a hybrid nature, if indeed He actually appeared before the Sanhedrin as such. Dr. Edersheim asserts in his Jesus the Messiah, that it was “no formal, regular meeting of the Sanhedrin”, pointing out that if it had have been, “all Jewish order and law would have been grossly infringed in almost every particular”. He quotes the Jewish historian Dr. Jost:

  • “A private murder, committed by burning enemies, not the sentence of a regular constituted Sanhedrin. The most prominent men who represented the Law, such as Gamaliel, Jochanan ben Zakkai, and others, were not present.”

It is alas only too sad to relate, and in opposition to this view, that even normally calm assemblies of intelligent men, when their judgments is clouded by hatred of fear, will act in the most irrational and unlawful manner. The men who opposed the Lord, even if they could be so described, were certainly burning with a hatred for Him and all He stood for, and there seems no reason to doubt, under such circumstances, that the so-called “Grand Sanhedrin” could act in a way which infringed “all Jewish order and law”. As to be absence or otherwise of the most prominent members of this body, since Scripture is silent on this, it cannot be established with any certainty one way or the other.

Authority of the Sanhedrin

The authority of the Sanhedrin at this time, was to judge in the more important causes, to the extent of pronouncing the death sentence, but with the limitation that such sentences should be confirmed by the Roman procurator, and be put into effect by the Roman power. Hence the words of John 18:31; 19:7:

  • “The Jews therefore said unto him (Pilate), It is not lawful for us to put any man to death . . . We have a law, and by our law He ought to die.”

The death sentence had in effect been already passed upon the Lord by the Jews, and they now sought the conformation of Pilate, and consequent carrying out of that sentence by the Roman power.

The death of Stephen has sometimes been quoted as demonstrating that the Sanhedrin did have the power to carry out the sentence of death at this time, but what happened with respect to the first Christian martyr was done in the heat of the moment, and is not to be quoted against the plain words of John 18:31 already referred to. The N.E.B. translation portrays graphically what happened to Stephen in Acts 7:57,58:

  • “At this they gave a great shout and stopped their ears. Then they made one rush at him and, flinging him out of the city, set about stoning him.”

It may be remembered that there were times during the Lord’s earthly ministry when a similar thing could have happened, although confessedly not in connexion with the Sanhedrin. See for example John 8:59 and 10:31.

The Judgement

  • “Ye have heard . . . but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgement: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council (Sanhedrin): but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire (lit. Gehenna of fire)” (Matt. 5:21,22).

In the above passage three degrees of punishment are allude to, pronounced by two courts. “The Judgement” would represent the local synagogue “councils” (Matt. 10:17 and Mark 13:9), which decided lesser cases, but could pronounce the death sentence by the honourable method of the sword, and ordain scourging (Matt. 23:34) and excommunication (John 9:34). The Sanhedrin dealt with more serious offences, and had the power to ordain death by the more ignominious stoning, and the further disgrace of the Gehenna of fire, the end of a malefactor, whose corpse was denied a proper burial and was thrown out into the valley of Hinnom (outside Jerusalem), where it would be devoured by worms, or the fires which were kept burning there constantly to keep down pestilence. See Isaiaih 66:24; Mark 9:43-48.

The meaning of Matthew 5:21,22 will be considered in a consequent article; it is enough for the moment to observe the constitution and authority of the judicial system in Israel at this time. All matters, civil, political and religious, came under the jurisdiction of these tribunals, which were intimately connected with the religion of Israel. Such a system is, on paper at least, a Theocracy, and this Israel was intended to be. How far they fell short of this in practice, to say nothing of the impossibility of running such a system whilst under the Roman yoke, is evident to any reader of the Gospel narrative.

The coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to His own people could have re-established that Theocracy, but the prevailing attitude of the leaders of the people was, “we will not have this man to rule over us”. They rejected their King-Priest, both during the Gospel and Acts period, and “the hope of Israel” was postponed to a future date, whilst the Lord turned His attention to another aspect of His purposes — the building up of the Body of Christ, a heavenly plan.



The Background to the New Testament / No. 9.

The Synagogue

The Greek sunagoge, “synagogue”, derives from the verb sunago, “to gather together”, and there are many occurrences of the word both in the LXX and New Testament. In the LXX the word is mostly translated by the words “congregation”, “assembly” and “company”, but apart from Acts 13:43 (“congregation”) and James 2:2 (“assembly”), the N.T. renders consistently “synagogue”. The A.V. translation of the word in James is most unfortunate, as it obscure the close connexion of the early believers with the synagogue, which is an important consideration for a correct understanding of the things at this time.

It is possible to use the word “synagogue” in much the same way as “church” is used today, i.e. of the company met together, or the building in which they meet. Revelation 2:9 is an example of the former usage, when it refers to “a synagogue of Satan”. Here it is not a building which is in view, but a company of people who promote the cause of Satan.

Origin of the Synagogue

Although the synagogue as a building did not appear until late on in the history of Israel, the custom of resorting to the “men of God” on the sabbath for the reading and exposition of the Law, was of great antiquity. This is suggested in Acts 15:21:

  • “For Moses from generations of old, in every city, has those proclaiming him in the synagogues, being read every sabbath” (lit.)

Dr. John Lightfoot identified the “high places”, mentioned in the O.T. in a good sense, with the synagogue.

  • “And Samuel answered Saul, and said, I am the seer: go up before me unto the high place . . .” (1 Sam. 9:19).
  • “Thou shalt come to the hill of God . . . thou shalt meet a company of prophets coming down from the high place . . . and they shall prophesy: And the Spirit of the Lord will come upon thee . . .” (1 Sam. 10:5,6).

These “high places” must not be confused with others used for idolotrous purposes (e.g. 1 Kings 11:7).

The gathering together in companies of the people of Israel came about gradually over in a period of time. With the division of the land amongst the twelve tribes, and the choice of Jerusalem as the accepted centre of worship, the people found themselves at varying distances from the place where the Lord had put His name. It was only natural that those at a distance from this centre, and required to present themselves there three times a year, should desire to meet together for prayer, reading and edification at other times. So was born the synagogue; first simply a company of people meeting in the open, but later (after the return from Babylon), in a building erected for this purpose.

The object of the synagogue was not to supplant the Temple, which was the House of Prayer, but to provide houses of prayer for those at a distance from the Temple, who were not able to attend as often as they would like to have done. Eventually, as the synagogue came to play a bigger and bigger part in the life of Israel, and with the rise of Rabbinism, synagogues were built in Jerusalem itself, until at the time of Christ, a great number existed there. Prayer was still offered with due recognition of the Temple as the dwelling place of God, the worshipper turning towards Jerusalem to pray.

  • “Daniel . . . his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God” (Dan. 6:11).

It is probable that the Lord’s prayer (Matt. 6:9-13) when first given, was prayed with the same attitude.

Synagogues were very often built beside running water, no doubt to provide for the “divers washings”, and in towns where no synagogue existed, it was customary to gather by the side of a river if possible. The N.T. Philippi seems not to have possessed a synagogue, although many of the towns of the dispersion did, so Luke testifies:

  • “On the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made” (Acts 16:13).

The interested reader may also like to compare Ezra 8:15,21 and Ps. 137:1.

When the New Testament period opened, a great number of synagogues existed both in Israel, and many towns of the dispersion. It is claimed by one authority that there were 480 in Jerusalem alone, and although this is no doubt an exaggeration (or may even be a symbolic number), a great number almost certainly did exist in Jerusalem. This factor led, as would be expected, to many differences of doctrine, and this is suggested by Acts 6:9:

  • “Then there arose certain of the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.”

When the Acts church arose, it was looked upon as simply another set or synagogue of the Jews:

  • “As concerning this sect, we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28:22).

Constitution of the Synagogue

The basic division of the N.T. synagogue was into three parts, dealing with worship, education and government. There were the ordinary services of worship, which included prayer, the reading of the Law and Prophets, and the word of exhortation. Then followed the Rabbinic school concerned with the exposition of the word, although some Rabbis had their own schools of divinity, unattached to the synagogue. The teaching of children was also undertaken in the synagogues. Thirdly, the “council” of elders sat in judgement over the affairs of the community.

The synagogue service provided for the “word of exhortation” from one of the congregation or a stranger, and an invitation to some to take part in the service by reading the Scriptures, possibly with comments. This accounts for the invitations given to the Lord at Nazareth, and Paul in Pisidian Antioch:

  • “And He came to Nazareth . . . and, as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Esaias”.
  • “They came to Antioch . . . and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down. And after the reading of the law and the prophets, the rulers of the synagogue sent unto them, saying, Ye men and brethren, if ye have any word of exhortation for the people, say on” (Luke 4:16,17; Acts 13:14,15).

Officials of the Synagogue

The officials of the synagogue were the elders or “rulers” (archontes), whose chief was the archisunagogos (“chief ruler”), the “minister” (huperetes), whose duty it was to keep the sacred books, and possibly a number of clerks (akin to the N.T. “deacons”), who took charge of alms etc.

Besides these regular officials were those who participated in the service itself. The Sheliach Tsibbor, or angel of the congregation was chosen by the chief ruler to conduct the devotions, as were also those who read in the Law and Prophets or gave a word of exhortation. There was also the Interpreter, who translated or paraphrased the reading of the Law and Prophets into Aramaic, for the Hebrew was little understood.

The rulers were elected by the congregation, but they must satisfy certain requirements of knowledge, and posses special qualifications, of which humility and gentleness were two. These rulers, elders or shepherds, formed the local “council” or tribunal, already referred to in the previous article, and acted in a judicial capacity.

Upon the chief ruler divulged the whole responsibility of the synagogue, and he would see that all was done “decently and in order”, as well as making sure that nothing improper took place. The attitude of the archisunagogos (“ruler of the synagogue”) in Luke 13:14 is in line with his duty:

  • “And the ruler of the synagogue answered with indignation, because that Jesus had healed on the sabbath day.”

In the eyes of this “ruler”, the Lord may teach, but not heal in the synagogue on the sabbath. This was an “improper” act.

Arrangement in the Synagogue

Synagogues were built so that the worshippers would face the right direction during prayers. This was, as has been seen, toward Jerusalem. The Temple, however, was so built that the worshippers faced west, with the rising sun at their backs (see Ezek. 8:16), and it seems that some synagogues were patterned on this.

Inside the synagogue, and generally in the middle, was the bema (probably “Moses seat” in Matt. 23:2), an elevated platform from which was read the Law in a standing position, whilst the address was delivered seated (Luke 4:16,20).

Also in the synagogue was the “Ark”, a moveable box containing the Scriptures, and in front of this the “chief seats” on which sat the elders and notables facing the congregation. These seats were coveted by the “hypocrites” of Matt. 23:6.

The veiled women were separated from the men, being accommodated in a gallery, although some authorities claim that the men and women sat in opposite aisles, separated by a low wall or lattice.

The alms chests, in which were made collections for the relief of the poor of the district, were probably near the entrance, and it was into these that the “hypocrites” cast their gifts with great ostentation (Matt. 6:2).

Ten persons were required to from “a congregation” and so constitute an assembly recognized by God, and at a later date in some larger cities, ten persons were paid so as to be free from secular employment and always ready to form a congregation. Thus was the “presence of God” assured. In contrast to this the reader might note the word of the Lord to His disciples that “where two of three are gathered together (sunago) in My name, there am I in the midst of them”.

Discipline in the Synagogue

It seems strange to modern church-goers that a place of worship was used to deal with certain offences, and that the council of elders could discipline their flock in the synagogue, and yet it was so. The Lord warned His disciples that scourgings in the synagogues awaited them (Matt. 10:17), and the Apostle Paul, before his conversion, beat believers in the synagogues were he found them (Acts 22:19), as well as later suffering the same himself at the hands of his own people (2 Cor. 11:24). Forty stripes were allowed (Deut. 25:3), but the Jews, always careful not to exceed this, reduced it to thirty nine.

There were also degrees of excommunication which might be inflicted according to the nature of the offence. These ranged from the lightest, which forbad intercourse with others during a period of thirty days, after which, upon the repentance of the guilty person, restoration was made, to the most serious, which cut the person off from all the privileges of being an Israelite, and the effect handed them over to the judgment of God. These two extremes have a parallel in the affairs of the Christian communities during the Acts period:

  • “Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorcerly, and not after the tradition which he received of us (2 Thess. 3:6).
  • “I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or an extortioner; which such an one no not to eat” (1 Cor. 5:11).

The object of this break of fellowship with disorderly believers, was that they might be “ashamed” and come to repentance, but they were not to be counted as “enemies” (2 Thess. 3:14,15).

The more serious offences, dealt with only by the Apostles themselves, led to “the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:5), and were probably the “sin unto death” of 1John 5:16, seen in the experience of Ananas and Sapphira (Acts 5), and suggested in 1 Corinthians 11:29-31).

Excommunication from the synagogue was the experience of the blind man (John 9:34). It was a constant deterrent to confessing faith in Christ (John 12:42), and was to be the lot of the disciples of the Lord before His return to the earth (John 16:2).



HET NU KOMENDE VREDERIJK – Een Compendium van Artikelen – gepubliceerd in de periode van 2005 t/m 2019 – Waarvan een aantal ook in het boek: “Het Jodendom, de Landbelofte het Vrederijk”.



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De Antichrist

Bij een voorstelling als die van de komende Antichrist kan men slechts trachten door tekstvergelijking, het naspeuren van de context en extrapolerend uit eigentijdse gegevens, een schets te maken die deze voorstelling verstaanbaar maakt. Aan onze visie mag dus geen andere waarde worden toegekend dan die men zou toekennen aan een zo verantwoord mogelijke speculatie en extrapolatie. Dit neemt overigens niet weg dat de hoofdlijnen van de nu volgende schets verantwoord kunnen worden door een zo getrouw mogelijk volgen van de betreffende voorstellingen.

De gestalte van de Antichrist is op zichzelf een vreemde, fantastische figuur, maar plaatst men hem in de bijbelse context, met name in die van de voorstellingen over de eindtijd en in de toekomstbeelden van moderne visionaire auteurs en moralisten, dan is hij toch heel goed denkbaar!

Om de mogelijkheid van een komende pseudo-messias die zich later ontpopt als de exponent van het absolute kwaad, onder het oog te kunnen zien, moeten wij de situatie in ons opnemen waarin hij volgens de voorstellingen geplaatst wordt.

Hij verschijnt op het wereldtoneel als het Christus-organisme — de gemeente der ‘eerstelingen’ — van de aarde is weggevoerd en zich verenigd heeft met de Volkomen Mens. Nu de gemeente van Christus voltooid is en opgenomen, zijn de eindgerichten begonnen, maar de achtergebleven mensheid heeft daar — uitgezonderd zij die zich bewust zijn wat er wezenlijk gebeurd is — geen notie van. De ‘eerstelingenoogst’ moest geborgen worden vóór de luciferische activiteit zich ten volle op aarde kon ontplooien (1 Kor. 15,23; Ap. 3,10; 4,4; 5,8-10). De andere ‘oogsten’ zullen geschieden onder de gerichten. ‘Wee de aarde . . . want de duivel is tot u neergedaald, in grote grimmigheid, wetend dat hij weinig tijd heeft’ (Ap. 12,12).

Van de achtergebleven mensheid uit gezien is het toneel volkomen anders. Het is wellicht niet geheel onmogelijk ons enige voorstellingen te maken van de situatie die dan op de wereld heerst. De Antichrist is immers een toekomstige figuur, niet slechts ten opzichte van de profetie en de apocalyps maar ook voor ons, twintigste-eeuwse mensen. Als wij aan de Antichrist denken, moeten wij dus een toekomstige wereld schetsen. Dan mogen wij, extrapolerend uit de gegevens van onze tijd, wel veronderstellen dat ondanks alle moeilijkheden die ons thans nog behagen, een toekomstige mensheid vrijwel ongelimiteerde mogelijkheden tot een ongekende evolutie heeft, die zelfs het karakter van een transmutatie kan aannemen. Als er geen allesvernietigende kernoorlog uitbreekt (en gezien de gevolgen moet een dergelijke oorlog reeds tot de eindgerichten worden gerekend en is het uitbreken daarvan naar onze mening vóór de eindgerichten niet waarschijnlijk) zullen de tendensen naar een vrijwel alles omvattende beheersing en ordening zich doorzetten. Dan zullen materiële welvaart (afgezien van de slachtoffers van sanerende werkingen en bijverschijnselen) weelde, genot en levensduur waarschijnlijk tot ongekende hoogte stijgen. De mens staat op het punt door de verworvenheden en perspectieven van wetenschap en techniek zijn tevoren illusoir ‘paradijs’ te realiseren. De bouwstenen voor een wereldomspannende heilstaat liggen gereed. Vrijwel onbeperkte productiemogelijkheden en ver doorgevoerd automatisme, de ontwikkeling van de computer en de geperfectioneerde, bijna-menselijke robot, scheppen de voorwaarden voor een economie, die in principe de huidige welvaart voor een deel der wereldbevolking kan doen evolueren in weelde voor alle mensen. Het wachten is slechts op de geniale architect, die de politiek en sociaal-economische formule vindt om deze mogelijkheden waar te maken. Hetzelfde geldt de idealen van wereldeenheid en wereldvrede, waarvan de bedreiging en de verstoring, zoals vroeger, inherent is aan potentieel gebrek en aan onkunde, maar uit het ontbreken van een formule en een macht die deze idealen kan realiseren, verklaard moet worden. Politieke en economische wereldordening is geen onmogelijkheid meer en als zij eenmaal tot stand gebracht kunnen worden zal deze basisordening nog oneindig veel meer mogelijkheden aan de expansie van wetenschap en techniek verlenen dan in een verscheurde en aan allerlei groepsbelangen gebonden wereld mogelijk is. Het ligt in de lijn van de ontwikkeling, dat langs wetenschappelijke weg zelfs een ‘geluksstaat’ voor de mens bereikt kan worden, die betrekkelijk onafhankelijk is van materiële omstandigheden! Met gebruikmaking van electroden en chemische preparaten experimenteert men reeds met succes op menselijke hersenen, teneinde bewustzijnstoestanden op te wekken die zonder enige twijfel met een authentiek beleefd geluk gelijkgesteld mogen worden. In aanmerking genomen dat technieken nog maar nauwelijks beproefd zijn en bij voortgaande experimenten tot een veel grotere perfectie zullen worden opgevoerd, gezien de verbluffende vorderingen in de neuro- en hersenchirurgie en de genetische conditionering, mag zonder aarzeling een nu nog onvoorstelbaar conditionering van het menselijk bewustzijn tegemoet worden gezien.

Deze ontwikkelingen zijn veel nabijer dan men zich over het algemeen kan voorstellen en eerst als men dit beseft, kan iets begrepen worden van het vooral hatelijk karakter van de eindgerichten in zo’n wereld! Er zijn theoretisch immers twee mogelijkheden: de mensheid zal reeds een deel van de bovengenoemde mogelijkheden hebben kunnen realiseren of — als de eindgerichten nabij zijn — zij op het punt staan dit ‘paradijs’ binnen te gaan. In beide gevallen zullen de eindgerichten de indruk maken van een bijzonder ongelukkige coïncidentie en, voor zover men allengs een patroon in de gerichten gaat onderkennen, het besef doen ontwaken dat men te doen heeft met een onduldbare, maar bovenmenselijke machtige vijand, die een zo lang begeerd ‘geluk’ juist verwoesten wil als het vlak voor de deur staat.

Of men deze ‘vijand’ werkelijk als de God van de openbaring zal erkennen of dat men hem als een ongelegen komende macht uit de wereldruimte zal beschouwen, zijn ‘ingrepen’ zullen door de mensheid als bijzonder als bijzonder hatelijk en onduldbaar worden ervaren en alleen dít kan ons verklaren waarom de Antichrist vrijwel de gehele mensheid in de eindfase der gerichten achter zich krijgt om openlijk strijd te voeren tegen God!

De Antichrist verschijnt in de wereldgeschiedenis als alles rijp is voor een geniale unificator. Hij is de supermens, de ‘top’ van de eigengerechtige menselijke evolutie, het eindpunt van de van God afvoerende weg. In hem zal alles verenigd zijn wat de mens kan begoochelen en bewonderen. Alles wat potentieel mogelijk is in een reeds zo hoog ontwikkelde wereld als de onze kan en zal hij verwerkelijken. Wanneer wij ook maar oppervlakkig kunnen zien hoe de grote lijnen van de tegenwoordige wereldontwikkeling naar een culminatiepunt moeten voeren, wordt tevens duidelijk dat de komst van een wereldheerser noodzakelijk en onvermijdelijk is. De machtsblokken in onze wereld worden steeds groter in omvang, maar ook steeds kleiner in aantal. Locale problemen worden meer en meer verbonden aan mondiale vraagstukken en de dreiging van het kernzwaard noodzaakt tot een wereldeenheid die voordien zelfs niet discutabel was. Vergeten wij daarbij niet, dat de onder de Antichrist tot stand komende wereldstaat ook een alliantie is tegen een door alle volken ervaren gemeenschappelijk gevaar: de mysterieuze massale verdwijning van mensen uit alle delen van de wereld en de grote catastrofen die over de wereld komen. Moeten wij nu uit het voorgaande besluiten dat een eventueel komende wereldregering per sé die van de geprofeteerde Antichrist is? Wij moeten ons onthouden van speculaties over het tijdstip van de eindgerichten in het algemeen en dat van de komst van de Antichrist in het bijzonder. Ongetwijfeld draagt onze tijd reeds verschillende trekken van een antichristelijke wereld, niet het minst door de afval in het christendom zelf, maar het is natuurlijk heel goed mogelijk dat de aanwezige tendensen zich nog niet doorzetten in de absolute zin van een antichristelijk wereldregiem. Er kunnen nog allerlei tussenfasen komen en partiële oplossingen worden gevonden voor alles uitmondt in de wereldordening en heerschappij van één mens, die door zijn persoonlijkheid en ongekende eigenschappen, de mensheid tot afgodische verering zal brengen.

Wie is nu deze Antichrist, wat is zijn achtergrond en waardoor wordt zijn optreden gekenmerkt?

Hij is niet identiek met de leider der luciferische engelen, de Tegenstander, die van het begin der mensenschepping af het kwaad in de wereld heeft gebracht en het heilsplan van de Volkomen Mens weerstaat. Hij is dus geen incarnatie, maar een instrument van de Tegenstander, een vleselijk mens die door de uit de hemel verbannen Tegenstander met al diens macht op aarde bekleed wordt. Wat dat betekenen moet, welk een indruk deze mens op de wereld zal maken, kan nauwelijks bevroed worden. In de beschouwing over de engelenwereld en de luciferische machten is wellicht enigszins duidelijk gemaakt, hoe onvoorstelbaar groot de macht en de vermogens van de hoogste der gevallen engelen moet zijn. ‘Lucifer’ behoort tot de engelen die, ondanks hun val, ‘toegang’ tot God hadden en zijn rijk is van kosmische afmetingen. Hij kon de mens Jezus rechtmatig alle rijken van deze wereld aanbieden, omdat hij daar tot aan zijn volkomen ondergang bij de wederkomst van Christus daadwerkelijk de beheerser van ís. Zijn volkomen verdorvenheid neemt niet weg, dat hij tot het laatst toe de grote Tegenstander van God blijft, weliswaar slechts als zodanig toegelaten, maar dan toch geheel en al in staat om de schepper van hemel en aarde te weerstaan! Zijn intelligentie en zijn macht zijn hem door God verleend en als creatuur kan hij zonder God niets doen, maar als zodanig zijn deze intelligentie en deze macht onvergelijkbaar veel groter dan die van de gevallen mens.

En het is déze grote hemelvorst, die in de eindstrijd, waarin hij bovendien wéét ‘een kleine tijd’ te hebben en dus alles op alles moet zetten, zijn schitterend genie en zijn grote macht verleent aan de mens. Wie deze mens is en van welke nationaliteit, is nog verborgen. De voorstelling geeft alle aanleiding tot de gedachte dat hij als een universeel genie uit de massa zal verrijzen en dat hij onbetwist en zelfs een door de grootmachten aangezocht wereldheerser zal worden. De opvatting dat de Antichrist een brute tiran zal zijn, is, althans wat betreft de eerste periode van zijn regiem, vóór hij het masker afwerpt, niet juist. Velen zullen in hem veeleer de messias zien, de bovenmenselijke figuur die alles in de wereld in korte tijd op orde stelt, die zowel cultureel als staatkundig en economisch tot schitterende prestaties komt. Hij ondersteunt en moedigt de opvattingen over zijn messiasschap bovendien aan door zijn bovenmenselijke vermogen aan te wenden en verschillende wonderen te doen. Uit de profetie dat hij een figuur naast zich heeft, die een religieuze cultus om de persoon van de Antichrist weeft, een cultus die tenslotte leidt tot aanbidding van de Antichrist, kan worden afgeleid dat deze bewust de illusie wil verspreiden dat het messiaanse rijk is gekomen is. Het raffinement van de luciferische wereldleider treedt ten volle aan de dag, als wij weten dat hij enerzijds de geopenbaarde Christus als een bedrieger lastert en hij anderzijds met bovenmenselijke tekenen doet voorkomen, dat hij de ware Christus is. Het meest kenmerkende van zijn optreden is het omkeren van waarheid en leugen. Er is geen sprake van dat de Antichrist atheîstisch of anti-religieus zou zijn! Hij verwerpt de ‘traditionele’ God, maar niet omdat God niet zou ‘bestaan’, doch omdat hij zichzelf als de ware God voorstelt. Hier kunnen zich de onbekendheid met de openbaring, het subjectivisme in de religiositeit, het schijn-christendom en de onwetenheid der aanhangers van niet-christelijke religies, op zijn verschrikkelijkst wreken. Want de Antichrist brengt de mensheid wérkelijk en ongekend ‘geluk’, een nooit vermoede en weelde en welvaart, die in de aanvang alle schijn hebben van het messiaanse heil. Hij brengt dit Utopia door bovenmenselijke vermogens tot stand en met een dermate suggestieve invloed, dat hij in de ogen van zeer velen de werkelijke messias zal zijn. Christus zal in die tijd als een bedrieger of minstens als een bedrogene worden verklaard.

Tijdens het regiem van de pseudo-messias wordt de wereld echter geteisterd door ontzettende rampen. In het begin zal men nog trachten deze catastrofen als toevallige calamiteiten van uitzonderlijke omvang te beschouwen. Waarschijnlijk zullen vele overlevenden door hypnotische machinaties en bewustzijnsvormende preparaten een zo groot mogelijke immuniteit tegen de beangstigende verschijnselen en rampen worden verschaft. Ook na de ingrijpendste en miljoenen wegrapende gerichten bekeren de mensen zich immers niet van hun kwaad, dat inmiddels tot ongekende proporties is uitgedijd (Ap. 16, 9-11). Maar uiteindelijk zal men de wereldomspannende catastrofen als stelselmatige en geleide gerichten gaan herkennen. Toch zal juist deze herkenning tot de culminatie van het kwaad leiden. De illusie van de eindelijk aangebroken Gouden Eeuw, de illusie, dat ‘god’ geen onbestemde dreiging buiten onze wereld is, maar een supermens binnen de eigen, vertrouwde wereld, de omstandigheid dat deze ‘gekozen’ mens-god mét de ‘traditionele’ God ook alle taboes en wetten heeft opgeruimd en ongebreideld uitleven van wellust en genotzucht toelaat, wordt nu op onverdragelijke wijze verstoord door een doodgewaande en gehate macht, die het altijd heeft doen voorkomen dat hij God is!  

God heeft in de voorgaande eeuwen van ellende en armoede zo hardnekkig gezwegen, dat men hem dood en een verzinsel waande. Nu de mensheid eindelijk in staat is gesteld haar eigen paradijs te scheppen, wordt het plotselinge, ‘naijverig’ ingrijpen van deze gehate macht als onduldbaar ervaren. Oude ressentimenten worden sterk verhevigd en de zo ontstane gevoelens monden uit in een felle haat tegen de macht, aan wiens bestaan overigens niet meer getwijfeld kan worden. De Antichrist is de gewenste, ideale god naar het beeld en gelijkenis van de gevallen mens.

Hij heeft de ‘oude’, imaginaire God van de Bijbel onttroond en ontmaskerd als een boosaardige tiran. Maar onder de druk van aan de profetie beantwoordende gerichten kan hij als boven-menselijke macht niet langer worden ontkend! Nu blijkt, dat de z.g. ‘god’ van de Bijbel altijd een sinister spel met de mens heeft gespeeld. Om deze onvermijdelijk uit de situatie van de eindtijd voortvloeiende visie en vijandschap te kunnen verklaren, is het nodig ons de religieuze ontwikkeling in te denken en de wijze waarop de Tegenstander deze voor zijn doeleinden benut. Daarbij moeten wij ons herinneren, dat het oogmerk van de luciferische machten te allen tijde is geweest in de plaats van God te treden en aanbeden te worden, mede om op deze wijze de volkomen menswording van de potentiële mens te verhinderen. De ‘mensenmoorder van den beginne’ haat niets zozeer als de mens, die eenmaal bestemd is in gemeenschap met God het heelal te beheren en te vervullen! Juist de religie is altijd het voornaamste operatiegebied van de luciferische machten geweest, juist dáár ‘schoven’ zij zich tussen God en de op aanbidding aangelegde mens. Zij waren het die de ook in zijn gevallen staat naar het beeldschap verlangende mens valse godsbeelden voorhielden. Met de in de moderne tijd opkomende en zich verder ontwikkelende rationalistische en existentiële afwijzing van het ‘godsbestaan’ zijn de luciferische machten geconfronteerd met een unieke situatie, die in de mensengeschiedenis geen precedent heeft! Het liet de Tegenstander immers koud wélke projectie of wélke afgod de mensen vereerden of vreesden, in al de relaties werden immers zij aanbeden.

Het authentieke, oprechte a-theïsme is echter een even grote vijand van de Tegenstander als het authentieke geloof in de geopenbaarde God! In het atheïsme — voor zover dit echt is, want dikwijls is het slechts de afwijzing van valse godsbeelden en caricaturen uit verlangen naar de ware God! — schuilt voor de Tegenstander wél de voldoening dat de Enige en Ene God ontkend wordt, maar tevens betekent het dat iedere god, dus óók de Tegenstander en zijn luciferische rijk, als fictief wordt beschouwd.

In zoverre ontmythosering en eigenwereldlijke secularisatie nog van een transcendentie relatie met God willen weten, hebben de luciferische machten in déze subjectieve ‘geloofsgronden’ nog een vruchtbaar werkterrein, daar hier geen toetsing van het geloof aan de objectieve Godsopenbaring meer mogelijk is. Zij weten echter, dat in dit existentialistische type van christendom reeds veel onbewust of nog niet toegegeven atheïsme schuilt en dat ook veel kerkelijk en formalistisch christendom zal uitmonden in het atheïsme. Deze ontwikkeling moet er toe leiden, dat de Tegenstander een laatste grote kunstgreep zal uithalen. Er blijft hem in de toekomst niets anders over dan zichzelf voor te stellen als God, om op deze wijze het atheïsme radicaal te doorbreken en bovendien de kroon op zijn religieuze begoocheling te zetten. Het ongelofelijk raffinement van de Tegenstander en de diepte van zijn verdorvenheid komen nu duidelijk tot gestalte. Geen situatie leent zich beter voor zijn opzet dan die ontstaat in de periode der gerichten. Dan zal de Tegenstander niet alleen het atheïsme kunnen doorbreken door zichzelf als ‘god’ te tonen, maar dan zal hij ook in staat zijn zowel de resten van theïsme als het atheïsme óm te buigen tot een militant anti-theïsme, in die zin, dat dit antitheïsme gericht is tegen de door hem als een boosaardig wezen voorgestelde God der openbaring! Dit zal hem niet moeilijk vallen, aangezien déze God het is, die het pas verworven ‘paradijs’ van de mensheid verstoort met wereld vernietigende rampen en dit met ondergang bedreigt. De profetie, dat de Antichrist zich zal verzetten tegen alles wat ‘god’ heet, is geen atheïsme, maar antitheïsme. Hij wil alléén ‘god’ zijn en om dit uiteindelijk te kunnen bereiken zal hij de nodige wonderen en tekenen moeten doen, dat de mens van de eindtijd hem als ‘god’ aanvaardt en aanbidt.

Eén zeer gewichtige factor staat hem bij deze opzet in de weg: ook de reeds zo lang zwijgende God der openbaring gaat in de eindtijd ‘spreken’. Atheïsme, religieuze projectie, valse religie, eigenwereldlijke secularisatie en ontmythosering worden in de periode der eindgerichten overtuigend doorbroken door de God, die zijn woorden waarmaakt. Onder de druk der gerichten, vooral die welke andersoortig zijn en vreemd aan alles wat de mens tevoren heeft ervaren, kan de openbaring van de Bijbel niet langer als een verzinsel worden beschouwd. ‘Insiders’ zullen wijzen op het verband tussen de apocalyptische gerichten en de profetie en velen zullen hierdoor overtuigd worden. Nu wordt nóg een reden duidelijk waarom de Tegenstander zich als de ‘ware god’ moet ‘openbaren’. Nu komt de verleugening van de ‘Vader der leugen’ tot zijn meest geraffineerde vorm in wat tevoren reeds werd aangeduid als de omkering van waarheid en leugen. De Antichrist weet dat de samenhang tussen bijbelse profetie en eindgerichten op den duur zo evident is, dat de God der openbaring als een onloochenbare werkelijkheid beschouwd zal worden. Hoe paradoxaal dit ook klinken moge: het atheïsme heeft in de latere fase van de eindtijd afgedaan! De werkelijkheid van de God der openbaring kan niet langer worden ontkend, maar de aangebeden ‘messias’ (aan wiens ‘godheid’ door tallozen niet meer wordt getwijfeld, vooral sinds hij uit de dood is verrezen) heeft autoriteit genoeg om de hoedanigheid van God te ‘ontmaskeren’. De zozeer bedreigde mensheid wil maar al te graag luisteren naar deze bovenmenselijke figuur, als hij oproept tot de strijd tegen een wel bestaande, maar volgens hem niet onoverwinnelijke macht. Het ligt geheel in zijn lijn niet de werkelijkheid van JHVH/Christus te ontkennen, maar deze te erkennen! Daarbij verzekert hij de mensen tevens dat deze zo boosaardig manipulerende en onder de ongelukkige mensheid operende macht níet God is.

Het gehele heilsplan van God wordt nu door de Antichrist ‘ontmaskerd’ als het boosaardig project van een machtige ‘buitenaardse intelligentie’, die, wetend, dat er op déze planeet een wezen zou evolueren dat eens het heelal (en dus ook zijn rijk) zou veroveren, van den beginne jaloers is geweest en bevreesd voor de kosmische expansie van de mens. Deze kosmische supermacht had de evolutie van de mens kunnen afbreken en hem kunnen vernietigen nog voor hij tot enige noemenswaardige ontwikkeling zou zijn gekomen, maar liever maakte hij gebruik van de mens door hem aan zich te onderwerpen. De religieuze aanleg van de mens werd misbruikt door verschillende openbaringen, die onder het mom van liefde en heil de mensheid onder een complex van ondragelijke eisen en wetten brachten. De gehate mens werd met sadistische voldoening ‘klein’ gehouden en verhinderd mondig te worden; hij werd voortdurend in ellende gedompeld om des te meer verslaafd te kunnen geraken aan het narcoticum van een ‘eeuwig heil’. Maar nu de mensheid eindelijk de fictie van haar religieuze voorstelling doorzien heeft, nu zij de banden met de gehate godheid heeft verbroken, nu zij zelf het paradijs gaat verwezenlijken en op het punt staat haar rijk tot de sterren uit te breiden, nu de mensheid ontdekt heeft dat de ‘ware’ God uit het eigen ras is voortgekomen, nú heeft die zogenaamde ‘god’ het gevaar gezien en heeft hij besloten zijn sadistische genoegens op te geven voor de zekerheid en de veiligheid van een vernietigd mensenras. De rampen die wij thans moeten beleven — zo spiegelt de Antichrist het de mensen voor — zijn geen Goddelijke gerichten, maar vernietigingspogingen van de oude macht die ons altijd reeds heeft gevreesd, maar met wie hij zich tot voor kort straffeloos heeft kunnen amuseren.

Deze satanische laster mag bijzonder fantastisch aandoen in ónze tijd, hij zal in de wereld van de eindgerichten gretig ingang vinden. Waar bovenwereldlijke realiteiten in die periode ervaren worden en het menselijk bewustzijn in de toekomst zal gewennen aan de mogelijkheid (en misschien zelfs aan de geconstateerde aanwezigheid) van machtige en intelligente wezens in het heelal, zal de ‘verklaring’ van de Antichrist niet meer als een fantastisch verzinsel klinken, maar als een volkomen aanvaardbare zaak! De Antichrist zal daarbij natuurlijk niet nalaten ook zijn eigen rol in de bijbelse profetie om te keren. Hij zal het zo voorstellen, dat JHVH wel wist, dat de mensheid eens zijn eigen ‘god’ zou voortbrengen en dat deze ‘werkelijke’ god een groot gevaar voor hem betekenen zou. Daarom heeft hij hem bij voorbaat reeds verdacht gemaakt als een pseudo-Christus, terwijl in werkelijkheid Jezus een door JHVH gezonden ‘bedrieger’ is geweest, die een groot deel van de mensheid nog eeuwen lang onmondig heeft gehouden.

Als de ‘verklaring’ van de Antichrist ingang heeft gevonden bij de overgrote meerderheid van de radeloze mensheid, kan hij de mensen er ook van overtuigen dat nu de tijd rijp is het juk van de ‘boosaardige’ JHVH en zijn ‘trawant’ Christus definitief af te werpen. De rampen die over de wereld komen bewijzen dat het nu gaat om het zijn of het niet-zijn van een mensheid die in staat is het heelal te veroveren en zélf God te worden. Als de mensheid nu onvoorwaardelijk zijn algehele leiding aanvaardt, zal hij haar aanvoeren in de strijd tegen de macht die het op zijn algehele vernietiging heeft voorzien. De Antichrist verheelt hierbij niet, dat ook de geprofeteerde wederkomst van Christus werkelijkheid zal worden, dat als alle rampen tenslotte gefaald hebben de gehele mensheid uit te roeien, een invasie uit de wereldruimte is te verwachten, waarin JHVH een laatste poging zal doen de mensheid te liquideren. De macht van JHVH is tenslotte geen almacht, anders had hij de gehele planeet reeds verwoest; zijn macht blijkt niet toereikend om dit te realiseren. Dit feit moet de nog overgebleven mensheid sterken in de overtuiging, dat JHVH in een laatste massale krachtsinspanning, in een openlijke strijd verslagen kan worden. Dit laatste appél brengt de radeloze en reeds zo zwaar geteisterde mensheid geheel onder de macht van de Antichrist, die nu zijn schaapsvacht kan afleggen en geheel en al het Beest wordt zoals hij in de tweede fase van zijn regiem getekend is.

Wordt vervolgd: (pag. 418-439)!!


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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 12:23
Dec 302019
who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

LET’S TAKE A look at another often-misunderstood event that many Christians put aside as Jewish tradition rather than a biblical holiday. It is known as Purim. In the story of Purim we read about a man named Haman, who, with the spirit of the antichrist, wants to annihilate the Jewish people. While Antiochus’ goal in the story of Hanukkah was assimilation, Haman’s goal was annihilation. Both are different aspects of the antichrist spirit. In this chapter we’ll look at the connections between Purim, the biblical calendar, and the end times, as those historical events will also repeat. []

While Purim implies there was law and order within the society, it was also a time of complete lawlessness. We see this is true from Scripture itself. In the first chapter of Esther, starting in verse 8, everything was done according to the law – even drinking. In verse 15 they want to know what can be done to Queen Vasti according to the law. Esther 2:12 talks about how every maiden’s turn to see King Ahasuerus was done according to the law. In 4:16 Esther decides to go into the king’s presence, which was not in accordance with the law, yet in Esther 3:13 they decide to make a law that allows ethnic cleansing, making it OK to kill the Jews and take their possessions. Of course making it a law justifies it!

Think of today’s morality as well. Many think that all we have to do is make laws and legalize abortion, legalize drugs, legalize prostitution, and legalize whatever is immoral, and then our conscience will be cleared. The whole concept of illegality is being turned on its head! As a reminder of what I said before, we must follow the pattern of the Bible. That which has happened before will happen again. What has happen to the fathers will happen to the children. History repeats itself, and those who don’t learn from it are doomed to repeat it. So let’s dig in.

Purim took place around 470 BC. The main characters were Mordecai, Esther, and Haman. One of the most incredible backstories is the story of Haman’s ancestry. We read in Esther 3:10 that Haman was “the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy.” Who were the Agagites? Let’s go back six hundred years.

In 1 Samuel 15:20 Saul tells Samuel that he has obeyed the voice of the Lord and brought Agag, the king of Amalek, to Samuel. So Haman is of the royal line of the Agagites, who are from the Amalekites! So who was Amalek? Let’s go back four hundred years more. In Genesis 36 we find Amalek was Esau’s grandson.

  • ‘And Timna was concubine to Eliphaz Ezau’s son; and she bare to Eliphaz Amalek: these were the sons of Adah Esau’s wife’ (GENESIS 36:12).

Did you know that Amalek is mentioned in the Bible one hundred years before he was born? We find him mentioned in Genesis 14 at the battle of the kings when Lot was taken captive and Melchizedek appears to Abram. We read:

  • ‘And they returned, and to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of the Amalekites’ (GENESIS 14:7).

His birth in Genesis 36 is the second time Amalek’s name appears. Here comes something that is absolutely incredible: From the first letter of Amalek’s name in Hebrew, -Ajin- of -Ajin-Mem-Lamed-Kof-, in Genesis 14 to the last letter of Amalek, -Kof-, in Genesis 36:12, the next time it appears at his birth, there are 12,110 letters in the Torah. It just so happens that is is the exact number of Hebrew letters in the Book of Esther!

What do we know about Amalek? In numbers 24:20 we read that Amalek “was the first of the nations; but his latter end shall be that he perish for ever”. What does it mean that Amalek was the first of the nations?

  • It was the first nation to attack Israel after it left Egypt.
  • It was the first nation that wanted te see Israel destroyed.

Amalek was Esau’s grandson. The generational hatred that Esau had toward his brother Jacob was passed down. The bible goes on to say in Exodus 17:16 that “the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.” This means that in every generation there will be an Amalek wanting to destroy Israel. Hitler was the Amalek of his generation, and the leaders of Iran are the Amaleks in our generation.

In Deuteronomy 25:19 God tells Israel, “Blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.” This is why we read about the Israelites crying out to God when the nations are coming to destroy them in Psalm 83:1-7, where the nations say, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance” (v. 4). Amalek is one of the nations mentioned in that verse. Amalek is thinking that if God wants it not to be remembered, then it will make sure Israel is never to be remembered!

Let’s fast-forward five hundred years from the birth of Amalek to when Israel has acquired its first king. It is time on God’s calendar to wipe out Amalek. Saul is king, and Kish was the father of Saul (1 Sam. 14:51).

Then we read in 1 Samuel 15:2-3 that the Lord remembers “that which Amalek did to Israel, how he laid wait for him in the way, when he came up from Egypt.” So God tells the Israelites that now is the time and they are to “go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not.”

In verse 9 we see that Saul disobeys both the Lord and Samuel by not utterly destroying Amalek and instead sparing the best of everything, even King Agag. Afterward Saul goes to Samuel and tells him, “I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek” (1 Sam. 15:20). Here is a very important connection! Agag is the king of the Amalekites. So the Agagites are the royal lineage of the Amalekites.

OK, let’s fast-forward another five hundred years to the story of Purim and the Book of Esther.

The plot thickens as we see in Esther 2:5 that there was “a certain Jew, whose name was Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite“.

Mordechai is a direct descendant of King Saul! Not only that, but Haman is a direct descendant of Agag! We read in Esther 3:10 that “the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy.” If Saul had done what God said to begin with, this never would have happened! Now it is déjà vu as history repeats itself from another vantage point. Wow! If Saul had killed all the Amalekites as God had said, then five hundred years later there would not have been a Haman to attempt an ethnic cleansing of the Jewish people. The fact that Mordecai is a direct descendant of Saul and Haman is a direct descendant of King Agag is incredible. That which happens to the fathers will happen to the sons!


We need to understand the significance of the Hebrew dates and times in this story to appreciate what is unfolding, so let’s look at what happens next:

  • ‘And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws are diverse from all the people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it is not for the king’s profit to suffer them … Then the king’s scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded … And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, even upon the thirteenth day of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and to take the spoil of them for a prey’ (ESTHER 3:8, 12-13).

The king’s scribes were called on the thirteenth day of the first month and told they were to kill all the Jews. This is the day before Passover, which is on the fourteenth day of the first month. What does Esther do? She tells them, “Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day” (Esther 4:16).

I find it very interesting that it is Passover, and the Jews are fasting for three days and nights, just as Yeshua was in the grave for three days and three nights. Yeshua rose on the third day; what happens in the story of Esther?

  • ‘Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on her royal apparel, and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house’ (ESTHER 5:1).

So let’s put some things together. Purim happens around 470 BC, and Hanukkah around 170 BC. What is the difference between Purim and Hanukkah besides three hundred years?

The Festival of Purim celebrates the deliverance of Israel from physical extermination. But the Syrian Greeks did not seek the physical annihilation of the Jewish people; they were concerned with their spiritual annihilation. Three main items King Antiochus demanded were that Israel reject the Torah, stop keeping the biblical calendar, and stop the covenant of circumcision.

So first, Purim is experienced, which ultimately leads to a Hanukkah experience. Or we can say Haman leads to Antiochus just as a Hitler leads to the Antichrist. The Antichrist’s main goal will not be annihilation but assimilation. We see this with the current teaching of “Chrislam,” which is a concerted effort to join Islam with Christianity, as if this will bring world peace.

To many Christians their Messiah, Jesus, has done away with the law and we are now all under grace. The Jews see the Messiah that Christians are expecting as a lawless messiah, or Antichrist, coming against the anointing. Many believe that Jesus changed, modified, or cancelled God’s law, which would be a strange action for a biblical Messiah who claims to be the same yesterday, today, and forever. Even though Jesus was a prophet who did miracles and many wonderful works, He is disqualified, according to the Bible, if He removes one jot or tittle from the law.

I believe the Antichrist and false prophet will actually claim to be the real Moses and Elijah and say the real Moses and Elijah are the Antichrist and the false prophet.

In Revelation 11, who stops the rain, turns water in blood, and strikes the earth with plaques? It’s not the false prophet and Antichrist! It is God’s two witnesses who perform the same acts Moses and Elijah did during their ministry. So when the Antichrist and the false prophet come and kill them, the world will rejoice because God’s two prophets will have been tormenting the earth for three and a half years. So here we have two Jews in Jerusalem telling the world to repent and return to God’s instruction.

In reality they might be telling people to return to the Torah, because Torah means instruction. Let’s compare a few Scripture translations of the same verse:

  • ‘My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother’ (PROVERBS 1:8).

This cannot be referring to Mosaic Law. The Hebrew word for law here is Torah Let’s look at how the English Standard Version translated it:

  • ‘Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching‘ (PROVERBS 1:8).

And the Jewish Publication Society, which definitely knows Hebrew, translates it as follows:

  • ‘Hear, my son, the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the teaching of thy mother’ (PROVERS 1:8, JPS TANAKH).

So back to the two witnesses telling the world to turn to God’s instruction. These witnesses are teling people to return to God, but at the same time they are killing those who oppose them. Who are people going to believe?Again, people will they think the two who were just killed were the Antichrist and the false prophet because they were the ones causing all the problems! The two who kill them will be thought to be the real Moses and Elijah!

When we look at the hundreds of prophecies the Messiah fulfilled, how can we not see Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah? Put on your two-thousand-year-old glasses and put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. Yeshua has just died, risen again, and ascended to heaven. The Holy Spirit has been poured out on the Jewish Feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) in perfect timing. Messiah has confirmed all these promises to the Jewish people. So the Jewish believers were now preaching the good news! Do you think they ran around telling everyone that they had it wrong all along, that Yeshua had invalidated everything in their Scriptures and it was time to start over with a new religion? That was the good news?

The Antichrist and false prophet will have no problem letting you keep your Jesus. But for the sake of peace, everyone will also have to acknowledge another god. This is much like in the Book of Daniel where everyone, including the Jews, could keep his God, but he also had to bow the knee to the image of face death. The strong deception will be that you can keep your Jesus but must also bow down to a universal idol.

The greasy grace massage and a false image of a Greek-minded Jesus who is not judgmental will cause many to believe they can bow down to an idol and still be forgiven. Surely Jesus would understand — and He did away with all those archaic laws of the Old Testamen!

We have to realize what their message really is. In Malachi 4 we learn that Elijah’s message will be given to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers (vv. 5-6). This can be interpreted on different levels, so let me you give you one of mine.

If I were to ask you who the early church fathers or early church leaders were, many would go back to Martin Luther, or maybe back to Augustine or Origen. Some may even say Peter, Paul, and Mary! But none of these are correct. The early church fathers were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our mothers are Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah. If you think otherwise, (okay), you do not see that believers are grafted into Israel, as Paul said in Romans 11, but you are imagining that God planted a separate tree in Rome or Greece. Where does that thinking come from?

We had a booth for many years at our state fair to promote our goal of having Christians better understand their connection to Israel and the Jewish people. Because our booth carries both Jewish and Christians materials, a young man running a booth across from us couldn’t figure out what type of organization we were and decided we were Jewish. He came over and told me, “You killed my Jesus!” I told him, “Now way! I wasn’t even there, man!” It’s amazing that so many Christians blame every Jew in every country for all of time for the death of Jesus.

In Mark 10:33 Jesus tells His disciples they are going up to Jerusalem, where He would be delivered to the chief priests and scribes. They were going to condemn Him to death and would give Him to the Gentiles. Did you catch that? He was delivered over to the Gentiles. Then verse 34 tells us what the Gentiles are going to do to him: the Gentiles will mock Him, spit on Him, scourge Him, and kill Him.

Wow! It was the Gentiles who killed Jesus. Does that mean every Gentile all over the world, for all time, is to be blamed for His death? In one sense all of mankind is responsible for His death, so there is plenty room to cast blame. Yet in John 10:17 we read that He voluntarily laid His life down for all of us by His own choice.

By Pastor Mark Biltz /



1. De engelenwereld

Een Bijbelse zijnsleer en eschatologie is ondenkbaar zonder de voorstelling van een hiërarchie van geschapen wezens die, anders dan mensen, dieren en planten, niet van een door ons kenbare lichamelijkheid zijn (Ps. 104; Mk.12,25; Lk. 20,34-36; Hebr. 1,7). Onmiddellijk moet hieraan worden toegevoegd, dat zij zich in de voorstellingen over engelen wel menselijk kunnen manifesteren en gedragen, zelfs zodanig, dat men een engel kan herbergen zonder hiervan te weten (Gen. 18,1-5; 19,1-3; Richt. 6,11-22; 13,8-23; Hebr. 13,2). In de Bijbelverhalen verschijnen engelen soms ook als lichtende, stralende en mensvormige wezens, gestalten die de mensen waarmee zij in aanraking komen, onmiddellijk doen beseffen met andersoortige wezens te doen te hebben (Richt. 6,21-22; Mt. 27,3; Lk. 1,11-12; 2,8-9). De enkele malen dat zij in grote aantallen verschijnen lezen wij van vormloze gloed en straling, zoals bij de Godsmanifestaties op Sinaï en bij de Christus’ geboorte (Deut. 33,2; Lk. 2,9).

De Bijbel stelt deze wezens voor als dienende geesten, in uitlopende rangen en functies (Ps. 103,20-22; 104,4; Job 38,7; Mt. 4,11; Mk. 1,13; Hebr. 1,6-7; 1,14). Deze hiërarchisch geordende wezens, worden ons in de bijbel als tussenmachten getekend. Zij zijn bewuste krachten die Gods wil uitvoeren (Deut. 33,2; II Kon. 19,35; Ps. 103,21; Jes. 6,6; Ez. 1; Dan. 4,4; 10,13; 12,1; Mt. 25,31; 13,41; Lk. 1,19; Joh. 1,51; Rom. 8,38; Kol. 1,16; 2,10; I Thess. 1,7; 4,16; II Thess. 1,7; Ef. 1,21 3,10; I Petr. 3,22; Jud. 9; Ap. 8,2; 20,2), uitvoerders van Gods scheppende en onderhoudende activiteit, wezens met een beschikkende macht, de wezenlijke leiders van volken (Dan. 10,13; 12,1,21,22; Hand. 7:53), strijders in dienst van het volk Gods (II Kon. 19,35; Dan. 12,1; Hand. 12,7; Hebr. 1,14; Ap. 12,7-9; 19,11-14) en wezens die dienstbaar zijn in het openbaringsproces door communicatie met zeer bepaalde mensen, bijzondere openbaringen, boodschappen, profetieën en visioenen (Dan. 9,22; Mt. 1,20; Ap. 1,1; 22,6,11). Ook worden zij getekend als bemiddelaars, ‘maaiers bij het oordeel’, ‘wachters’ en ‘wakers’, beheersers van natuurkrachten, wetgevers en, in negatieve zin: krachten van dood en verderf, ziekte, misdaad, verleiding en foltering (Dan. 10,4,14; Mt. 13,39; I Kor.11,10; Ap. 7,1; 8,3-13; 16,2-21).

Het valt niet moeilijk deze voorstellingen te verbinden met die der mythologische goden, de demiurgen en sub-goden die, ofschoon schepsels van de ‘opperste god’, met grote macht zijn toegerust. Ook in de bijbel worden engelen wel aangeduid als ‘zonen Gods’ (Elohimszonen) en ‘goden’ (Mt. 22,30; Lk. 20,36). Wat de goden betreft wijst men er wel op dat deze in de Bijbel ontkend en zelfs belachelijk gemaakt worden. Dat de afgoden van de heidenen en Israël in het O.T. belachelijk worden gemaakt en als ‘nietsen’ worden ontmaskerd [zie Miskotte: De goden zwijgen], mag echter niet tot de conclusie leiden dat de werkelijkheid van goden wordt ontkend! De afgoden van hout en steen zijn blind en stom, maar dat wil niet zeggen dat er geen creatuurlijke machten ‘tussen’ God en mens zijn die ‘goden’ genoemd worden. JHVH [Jahweh] richt zich tegen de verering van de goden, niet omdat zij imaginair zouden zijn, maar juist omdat de goden in hun hoedanigheid van creatuurlijke machten werkelijkheid zijn. Weliswaar is niemand onder de goden JHVH gelijk (Deut. 10,17; Joz. 22,22; II Kron. 2,5; Ps. 82,1; 97,7) en roept JHVH de hemelse machten bij name (Job 15,15), maar de werkelijkheid van deze scheppingsmachten wordt erkend.

De Ene en de Enige sluit dus bovenmenselijke, creatuurlijke wezens niet uit; integendeel heeft hij ze met zeer bepaalde bedoelingen geschapen. Zij worden door Paulus aangeduid als tronen, heerschappijen, machten, overheden en wereldgeesten (Kol. 1,16 verg. I Petr. 3,22 / stoïcheia-wereldgeesten; exousiai-machten). Er zijn gevallen waarin ook aardse machthebbers als goden worden aangeduid, maar generaal genomen moeten wij er toch hemelse machten onder verstaan. Een bijzonder aspect van de voorstelling is dat hemellichamen met goden of engelen worden vereenzelvigd, zelfs zo concreet, dat zij ‘vanuit de hemel, vanuit hun banen tegen Sisera streden’ (Job 38,4-7; Ps. 148,3; Richt. 5,20; Neh. 9,6; Jes. 40,26; Ap. 1,20). Dat sterren (zonnen) belichamingen en woonplaatsen kunnen zijn van buitenmenselijke intelligenties voegt zich in de ultrarealistische visie op bewustzijn dragende energetische structuren.

Menigeen is misschien geneigd de voorstelling van een engelenwereld niet zo belangrijk te achten, in de veronderstelling dat hiermee het Godsbeeld, het mensbeeld en het geschiedenisbeeld, de voornaamste onderwerpen van deze schets, niet gediend zijn. De engelenwereld neemt echter een uiterst belangrijke plaats in de bijbelse voorstellingswereld in. Het zijn immers juist de machten ‘tussen’ God en de mens die van de grootste invloed zijn op Godsbeeld, mensbeeld en geschiedenisbeeld.

Als de moderne mens aan goden denkt, staan hem daarbij vanzelfsprekend de mythologische goden voor het oog. Hij denkt daarbij aan Zeus, feestvierend met zijn trawanten op de Olympus, aan de sombere Germaanse goden, en de onwereldse goden uit het Egyptische pantheon. Deze godenwereld is reeds eeuwen vergaan. De theologie weet nog wel van zinnebeeldige goden en machten, zoals bijvoorbeeld Mars en Mammon symbolen zijn voor oorlog en geldzucht, maar weinigen zullen aan de mogelijkheid denken dat achter deze antieke verbeeldingen wezenlijke machten kunnen schuilen.

Het primitieve motief van de gehele schepping is ook dat van de schepping der kosmische machten: de liefde van God die zich uitdrukken wil in geschapen wezens ‘buiten’ hem, opdat zij in zijn volkomenheid en heerlijkheid kunnen delen.

De schepping van bewuste, zedelijke-redelijke wezens impliceert, dat dit ‘delen in Gods volkomenheid’ niet kan bestaan in een passief ondergáán van deze volkomenheid. De ervaring van Gods volkomenheid en heerlijkheid, moet zich voltrekken in een actieve verheerlijking. Delen in de volkomenheid en heerlijkheid van God betekent óók voor de engelen gehoorzaam zijn aan het ‘zo zijn’ van God, omdat on-gehoorzaam zijn een ‘anders zijn’ dan het Goddelijke ‘zo zijn’ inhoudt waardoor het schepsel ‘buiten’ God treedt en op deze wijze het doel — volkomenheid en heerlijkheid — mist.

Dit is dus analoog aan de zin van het mensenleven. Ook het mensenleven kan slechts zin hebben als het voldoet aan de door God gegeven opdracht. De vergelijking van engelen en mensen kan in dit opzicht nog verder worden doorgetrokken, want ook de engelen hebben eens, om te kúnnen voldoen aan de opdracht, een vrijheidsmarge ontvangen binnen welke vrijheid ze al of niet konden gehoorzamen. In verband met de val van een deel der engelen wordt hierop nog nader ingegaan.

Om te begrijpen waarom de respons van de engelen van zo allesbeheersend belang is voor de gehele schepping, in het bijzonder voor de mensheid, is het goed eerst na te gaan waaruit de opdracht aan de engelen bestaat. Wij stuiten hier op een bijzonder motief van hun schepping: de mens! Dat de engelen als het ware het skelet van het heelal vormen, dat zij de uitvoerders zijn van de scheppingswoorden, de ‘lichtdragers’, de krachten, de ‘heerschappijen’, de heersers der sterren, de beheersers der elementen, de gebieders over de zee, de bomen, het vuur en de atmosfeer, al deze macht oefenen zij in Gods naam uit ten dienste van de mens. Ofschoon de creatuurlijke mens ‘voor korte tijd onder de engelen is gesteld’ en hij ‘minder dan de engelen is gemaakt’ (Hebr. 2,7), zal hij tóch, als hij eenmaal volkomen mens geworden zal zijn, boven de engelen gesteld worden (I Kor. 6,3; Hebr. 2,5,8). De engelen zijn, ofschoon hoger gesteld dan de potentiële mens (de adamietische mens die volkomen mens kán worden), van lager orde dan de creatuurlijk volkomen mens. Zij hebben ten opzichte van de creatuurlijke mens een dienende functie die, hoewel de engelen met onvoorstelbare vermogens zijn uitgerust, op het uiteindelijke koningschap van de mens over de gehele schepping is gericht. Hoe groot de ‘goden’ ook zijn, welke functie zij ook mogen vervullen in het kosmische bestel, in principe zijn zij dienstbaar aan de wording van de volkomen mens.

Het ‘groter’ en ‘meer’ zijn van de engelen t.o.v. de mens is van tijdelijke aard. De opdracht aan de mens luidt: onderwerp en beheers de schepping (Gen. 1,28; Ps. 38,7; I Kor. 15,27; Ef. 1,22-23; Hebr. 2,6-8). In de vervulling van déze opdracht moet de mens zijn God verheerlijken en zó in de heerlijkheid van God delen. In het koningschap over de gehele schepping is het beeldschap waargemaakt; in de gehoorzaamheid aan deze opdracht moet de mens beeld van God worden. Déze opdracht hebben de engelen niet. Zij zijn wél goden, in de zin van Elohimszonen, maar géén mensen in de zin van Elohimszonen naar Gods gelijkenis. Hun wezen is niet: beeld-in-aanleg-zijn en (in hoogste bestemming) uitdrukking zijn van God. Deze status is uitsluitend de mens verleend. Als de engelen in Naam van God de schepping beheren en in bepaalde rangen meewerken aan de ontvouwing van het Koninkrijk Gods, is dat in de eerste plaats in dienst van God, maar omdat God zich wil uitdrukken en belichamen in de mens, tevens in dienst van de mens!

De opdracht aan de engelen, de zin van hun zijn, het delen in de heerlijkheid Gods, is niet het ‘onderhouden’ en ontwikkelen van de schepping zonder meer, maar de opdracht, de zin en de verheerlijking ontlenen hun wezenlijke betekenis primair aan datgene waarop de schepping gericht is: de verheerlijk van de Volkomen Mens in de creatuurlijke volkomen mens. De schepping wordt bewaard en onderhouden en het Koninkrijk Gods wordt door de engelen gediend, om in de voleinding alles aan de volkomen mens te kunnen overdragen. Zolang het beeld-in-aanleg nog niet is opgewassen tot de volle maat van de volkomen mens, zolang nog niet alle leden van het Christus-lichaam zijn geïncorporeerd en dus de openbaring van de volkomen mens nog moet wachten, bewaren en ‘investeren’ de engelen het ‘kapitaal’ van de schepping als een erfenis voor de volkomen mens.

Hebben wij nu iets gezien van de zin van de engelenwereld, een zin die zowel betrokken is op de bestemming van de mens als op hun eigen heerlijkheid, dan staat de betekenis van hun respons op de opdracht, voor mens en schepping, ons in heel zijn universele omvang voor ogen. Daar ook de engelen geen blinde werktuigen van God zijn en zij aan hun wezen moeten beantwoorden hield ook de in hen gelegde keuze-mogelijkheid een voorzien risico in. Zou een negatieve respons bij een deel der engelen — hoe onwaarschijnlijk deze om nader te noemen redenen a priori ook zou moeten zijn — het gehele Godsplan met de mens en de schepping niet ongedaan kunnen maken? Waar een deel der engelen zeer grote macht is verleend in het komisch bestel en zij bovendien onverderfelijk zijn, waar een deel van hen niet alleen over grote gebieden van de schepping heerst, maar zelfs met de grondstructuren van het heelal vereenzelvigd moet worden, kunnen zij dan niet in een negatieve respons, van de kosmos een chaos maken? De bij hen vergeleken zwakke potentiële mens zou dan reeds bij zijn schepping vernietigd kunnen worden. Dergelijke vragen zouden zeker zijn opgekomen als wij (onwetend van openbaring en heilsgeschiedenis) vóór de schepping, als ‘adviseurs’ bij een experiment zijn geraadpleegd. Wij zouden, gezien het geopenbaarde feit dat God deze wezens vrijheid van respons heeft ingeschapen, de potentiële mens bij voorbaat kansloos achten als een deel der engelen negatief zou reageren. Hoe heeft God in deze mogelijkheid voorzien?

Anders dan de mensheid is de engelenwereld in haar gehele omvang ‘direct’ geschapen. De engelenwereld is niet genetisch ontstaan uit één prototype, waarvan het lot van de gehele ‘soort’ afhankelijk was. Ook al zou een deel van de engelen misbruik maken van zijn vrijheid van keuze, dan zou hierdoor niet de gehele engelenwereld vallen, want de engelen zijn niet uit elkander voortgekomen. Dat slechts een deel zou kúnnen vallen stond bij voorbaat vast. De ‘bestaansvoorwaarden’ van alle engelen zijn onvergelijkelijk gunstig. In tegenstelling tot de potentiële mens zijn zij volmaakt en volkomen geschapen en staan zij niet argeloos tegenover de beslissing tussen gehoorzaamheid en ongehoorzaamheid. Bovendien hebben zij een constante structuur, ontwikkelen zij zich niet en zijn zij onvernietigbaar. Zij kennen het kwaad en weten, dat als zij daar in vallen, eeuwig in deze val zullen blijven. Zij komen niet in aanmerking voor verlossing en transmutatie en als zij niet aan hun opdracht voldoen impliceert dit dat zij zeer bewust kiezen vóór het kwaad tegen God. Hun wilsfunctie is zo gebouwd, dat zij nooit meer anders willen en kunnen dan het eenmaal gekozene. Deze wezens zijn zo bekend met wat het kwaad wezenlijk is en wat voor hen de consequenties zijn, dat zij, als zij het bedrijven, het ook geheel en al willen. De mens kent het kwaad pas als hij van de verboden vrucht heeft genomen; de engelen kennen het kwaad vooruít en juist déze kennis maakt een negatieve respons op de liefde van God tot een zó verschrikkelijke en afgrondelijke daad, dat reeds van de beginne vaststaat, dat slechts een deel van de engelen zich tegen God kan keren.

Menselijkerwijs gesproken is ook de val van slechts een zeer gering deel der engelen volkomen onbegrijpelijk, als wij denken aan hun volmaakte en bevoorrechte staat en de onherroepelijkheid van hun beslissing. Toch zijn er enkele redenen die tot ongehoorzaamheid jegens God kunnen leiden. De eerste reden is, dat deze wezens, ondanks hun verhevenheid en geweldige vermogens, nooit gelijk aan de schepper kunnen worden. God zou hen zo geschapen kunnen hebben dat deze gedachte nooit in hun bewustzijn zou hebben kunnen opkomen, maar deze conditionering heeft hij achterwege gelaten, omdat de zin van het creatuurlijk bestaan juist gelegen is in de vrijwillige gehoorzaamheid jegens de schepper. De engelen kúnnen dus begeren ‘als God’ te worden en al hun vermogens inzetten om dit te bereiken. De tweede reden is dat zij geconfronteerd zullen worden met een ander, in zijn aanvankelijke mogelijkheden veel beperkter en geringer schepsel, dat echter een uiteindelijke bestemming heeft die de hunne te boven gaat. Dat nieuwe wezen is de mens naar Gods beeld en gelijkenis, de beeldenaar van God en de toekomstige beheerder van alles wat de schepper gemaakt en ontwikkeld heeft. Er zijn dus enkele ongerechtige motieven tot de engelenval aanwezig, maar de staat van de engelen is zo verheven en volkomen, dat een algehele engelenval onmogelijk is, temeer daar zij individueel kunnen beslissen en niet — zoals de mens — collectief verantwoordelijk zijn.

2. De functie van het kwaad als katalysator

Als wij in dit licht de val van een deel der engelen beschouwen, gaan wij iets bespeuren van de absoluutheid en de consequenties van dit gebeuren. De gevolgen voor de mens en schepping zijn ons geopenbaard. Het kwaad is niet met de val van de mens in de wereld gekomen; het is het gevolg van de val van een deel der engelen. God vond na de schepping der engelen een deel van hen tegenover zich, onvernietigbare wezens, die binnen hun machtsgebied alles zouden doen om het heilsplan met de mens te verijdelen. Door de val der engelen ontstond een strijd van kosmische proporties. Het kwaad, dat uitsluitend als mogelijkheid had bestaan, werd nu tot realiteit. Het kwaad is een beginsel, dat in de grondstructuren van het heelal ‘levend’ is geworden en het doet zijn verderfelijk werk in alle gebieden die de luciferische machten zijn toegewezen. In de kroon en kern van de schepping, de mens, ligt het brandpunt van de luciferische activiteiten. Bij de mens ligt immers het lot van de gehele schepping in de waagschaal; de bestemming van de mens is de bestemming van het universum!

Alles in het heelal is ondergeschikt aan de wording van de volkomen mens, de lichamelijkheid van God. Het is in dit verband niet belangrijk, of dit proces zich ook op andere werelden afspeelt of uitsluitend op déze planeet. Waar potentiële mensen zijn, die volkomen mens moeten worden, zijn de kosmische machten ingezet. [zie ook: WAR IN HEAVEN / Berean Expositor / Commentary on Revelation / E.W. Bullinger /

In de heilsgeschiedenis zien wij hoe God de val niet alleen voorzien heeft, maar ook dienstbaar heeft gemaakt aan zijn heilsplan. Het in de gevallen engelen gepersonifieerde kwaad wordt niet vernietigd. Krachtens de aan de engelen geschonken vrijheid en hun onvernietigbaarheid kan dit ook niet, maar de werking van het kwaad wordt een functie in het wordingsproces van de volkomen mens. De in het kwaad vervallen machten vervullen in het menswordingsproces de functie van katalysator. Zij blijven zichzelf gelijk, maar zij drijven de gevallen mens dóór het kwaad naar de reddende Christus [Messias] óf van hem af. Nu God een machtige tegenpartijder heeft — een tegenstander (= ‘satan’) die hij tegenover zich toelaat — wordt zijn heerlijkheid óók kenbaar en des te groter door de voortdurende overwinning op het kwaad, zijn gestalten en symbolen. Omdat slechts een deel van de kosmische machten in ongehoorzaamheid viel, konden ook de positief reagerende machten worden ingezet. Zij bleven trouw aan hun beginsel en opdracht en bewaren de met ondergang bedreigde schepping. Zij bereiden het toekomstige manifeste Koninkrijk Gods voor, dienen de mensheid in het nog onzienlijke Koninkrijk Gods en leiden de geschiedenis naar haar culminatiepunt, waarin de mens zijn erfenis, de uitgezuiverde en van God vervulde wereld ontvangt. De machten van het kwaad worden ook op directe wijze door God gebruikt. Zij zijn wel tegenstanders van God, maar niet onafhankelijk. Hun kwaad-zijn wordt ‘aanvaard’, hun wezen wordt hun niet afgenomen, maar ín die negatieve hoedangheid vervullen zij tóch hun dienst. Zij blijven tot aan de voleinding van het heilsplan in hun ‘functies’. Hun machtsgebieden als zodanig worden niet aangetast en binnen die gebieden en functies voltrekt zich het kwaad, dat nochtans dienstbaar is aan het heilsplan. Hoe kan de toekomstige uitzuivering van het kwaad in de voleinding der geschiedenis gevoegd worden in de voorstelling van de onverderfelijke, gevallen engelenwereld? De engelen, ook de gevallen engelen zijn immers onverderfelijk en hun machtsgebieden van dikwijls zeer grote komische uitgebreidheid worden niet aangetast. Ook de gevallen engelen vormen achtergrondstructuren in het heelal en ook zij bewonen en beheersen hemelstreken en hemellichamen.

Aan de onvernietigbaarheid (een begrip dat juister is dan ‘onsterfelijkheid’, welk laatste begrip eigenlijk alleen toepasselijk is op biologische levende wezens) moet niet het denkbeeld verbonden worden van een altijd durende machtsuitoefening en werking. Het uitzuiveren van de schepping impliceert in de eerste plaats het verdwijnen van de ‘luciferische’ machten. Het ‘vergaan’ van de wereld is niet het verdwijnen van het heelal, niet de vernietiging van hemel en aarde, maar een vernietiging van de tegenwoordige wereld, die door de gevallen engelen ontwijd en verdorven is. Het kwaad als werking zal eens verdwijnen, maar de personificaties zijn onvernietigbaar en zullen in een daartoe aangewezen gebied buiten de gezuiverde en vernieuwde schepping voortbestaan. Het uitzuiveringsproces mag niet worden beschouwd als een zinnebeeldige of uitsluitend ‘geestelijke’ scheiding van goed en kwaad. Door de eenheid van geestelijk beginsel en fysische bewerktuiging van al het geschapene, is het een proces, dat zich ook in de fysische ruimte voltrekt. Hetzij deze zuivering aan de gehele wereldruimte voltrokken wordt, hetzij aan een deel van de hemel (afhankelijk van de reikwijdte der luciferische machtssferen), in elk geval betekent het gericht een ingreep van kosmische proporties.

Om iets te kunnen begrijpen van het zwijgen der openbaring over een uiteindelijke redding van de gevallen engelen, moet enige aandacht geschonken worden aan de aard van hun ongehoorzaamheid. In deze val worden wij geconfronteerd met het absolute kwaad, een begrip dat wij niet kunnen vatten, maar misschien wel kunnen benaderen. God heeft het kwaad wel toegelaten, maar hij heeft het niet gewild. Bij de schepping van de mens zagen wij het dilemma dat samenhangt met de vrijheid. Deze vrijheid hield de mogelijkheid van ongehoorzaamheid in. De mens moest, om beeld-mens te worden gehoorzaam zijn aan het ‘zo zijn’ van de Volkomen Mens, maar er was een risico van ‘anders zijn’.

Dit risico bestond ook bij de schepping van de engelen, maar er was een groot verschil! De engelen konden niet in het kwaad ‘vallen’ zoals de mens, die ‘in de val gelopen’ is, omdat hij het kwaad niet kende. De mens werd geschapen in een wereld waarin het kwaad reeds ‘geschied’ was. Het verhaal van de Tegenstander die de vrouw aanspoort van de verboden vrucht te eten impliceert dat de engelenval aan de schepping van de mens vooraf is gegaan. Bij de schepping van de engelen kon het kwaad slechts als mogelijkheid bestaan en slechts de engelen zelf konden dit kwaad tot een realiteit maken. Tussen dit bewuste willen van het kwaad, creëren van alles wat tegen het ‘zo zijn’ van God ingaat en het menselijk ‘vallen in het kwaad’ is een fundamenteel en beslissend onderscheid. De gevallen engelen zijn namelijk het kwaad zélf! Om de afgrondelijkheid van hun daad ook maar enigszins te kunnen peilen is nodig te beseffen dat zij, anders dan de mens, als onverderfelijke wezens zijn geschapen. In tegenstelling tot de mens zijn zij wél ‘kant en klaar’ geschapen en krachtens hun onverderfelijke structuur kunnen zij ook niet getransmuteerd worden als zij falen.

Volkomen ingebed in de liefde van God, begiftigd met onvoorstelbare vermogens en kennis, in de hoogste rangen zelfs in de onmiddellijke nabijheid van God verkerend, kan het kwaad van hén niet verwacht worden, tenzij zij het kwaad bewust als zijnswijze verkiezen boven de gehoorzaamheid aan God. De keuze voor het kwaad heeft hier niets met zwakheid of een niet anders kunnen te maken, ook niet met een erfelijke gedetermineerde dwangmatigheid, maar het is geheel en al een bewuste en afgrijselijke liefde tot alles wat tegengesteld is aan het ‘zo zijn’ van God. De visies van Milton en Vondel waarin als oorzaak van de engelenval jaloezie jegens de mens als toekomstige beeldenaar Gods wordt gezien en het motief van de jaloezie jegens de Allerhoogste zelf, zijn belangrijke indicaties van secundaire oorzaken, maar de primaire oorzaak is toch de ongerechtigheid als zodanig, die tot deze veronderstelde jaloezie leidde. De ongerechtigheid, het ‘anders’ zijn dan het ‘zo zijn’ van God, is het eigenlijke kwaad en dát hebben de gevallen engelen zeer bewust gewild.

Dit spreekt des te duidelijker, als wij willen bedenken dat de gevallen engelen moeten hebben geweten wát de consequenties van hun daad zouden zijn. Zij wisten immers oververderfelijk te zijn en niet meer terug te kunnen; zij wisten dat zij ‘finale structuren’ waren die niet — zoals de mens — voor de reddende transmutatie van hun structuur in aanmerking konden komen. Desondanks en niettegenstaande hun volmaakte staat, keerden zij zich tegen God, verleidden zij de argeloze mens tot ongerechtigheid en brachten zij daardoor de gehele latere mensheid mét de aan het lot van de mensheid direct verbonden schepping, in nood en ellende.

De gevallen engelen hebben het kwaad als hun element gekozen. In die zin zijn de gevallen engelen op een vreselijke en afgrondelijke wijze ‘gelukkig’. Zij ‘genieten’ van het kwaad als van hun leefklimaat. Ook hun afgrijzen van het kwaad, dat zij zelf zijn, ervaren zij als een masochistische genieting en de altijd durende haat jegens God die zij wél kunnen tegenstaan, maar van wie zij tevens volkomen afhankelijk zijn, vormt de dynamiek van hun activiteiten.

Wie begrijpelijkerwijs de vraag zou stellen, waarom ‘een God van liefde’ ook niet de gevallen engelen redt, verraadt hiermee niet te doorgronden, dat deze wezens het kwaad bewust gekozen hebben en dat zij nooit gered willen worden, omdat het kwaad hun element is. Dit element wordt hun ook in de voleinding niet ontnomen! Na de afsluiting van het heilsplan worden zij wel ‘met eeuwige banden gebonden’ en wordt hun macht ontnomen, maar zij worden, geïsoleerd van het Koninkrijk Gods, in het kwaad ‘gelaten’. Op deze wijze is God hen op een vreselijke, maar door hen zelf gewilde wijze, ‘terwille’.

Naar de bijbelse voorstellingen op dit punt leren, is de werking van de luciferische machten in onze wereld allesomvattend. Zij stonden reeds aan de wieg van de tot het beeldschap bestemde mensheid om hem van zijn kroon te beroven. Enkele mythische teksten duiden er zelfs op dat het scheppingsgebeuren als zodanig reeds in het teken stond van de strijd tegen de gevallen engelen (Job 1,6; Ez. 28,11-16). Mogelijk duidt ook de scheiding tussen licht en duisternis (Gen. 1,2; Ps. 89,11; Jes. 51,9 verg. Gen. 2,15,17), (een scheiding die een andere is dan die van de vierde scheppingsdag, die verband houdt met de rotatie van de aarde om de zon (Gen.1,14), op een voor-wereldlijke scheiding die God gemaakt heeft tussen ‘de engelen des lichts’ en de ‘engelen der duisternis’. De mythe van de Godenzonen die gemeenschap hebben met vrouwen houdt zelfs een genetische infiltratie van luciferische machten in de mensenwereld in (Gen. 6,1-4), een vermenging die tenslotte tot het diepste verderf leidde (Gen. 6,5-7).

De gevallen engelen worden ons in de Bijbel o.m. voorgesteld als grootmachten achter de schermen van het wereldtoneel, zowel als de demonische machten in de individuele levens (Ps. 78,49; Job 1,6-11; Mt. 10,8; Lk. 4,6; 8,2; Joh. 8,44; II Kor. 4,4; 11,14; Ef. 6,11-12; I Tim. 3,7; II Tim. 2,26; Hebr. 2,14; 1 Petr. 5,8; Ap. 2,10; 16,14). Zij zijn evenzeer hiërarchisch geordend onder een opperste macht als de engelen die ‘hun beginsel trouw gebleven zijn, en zij hebben ook onderscheiden machtsgebieden en functies (Dan. 10,13; Mt. 12, 26-27; 9,34; 12,24; Lk. 11,15; Ap. 9,11). Van bijzondere betekenis in de voorstelling is dat de ‘vorst dezer wereld’ tevens de overste van de gevallen engelen is. De Bijbel ziet juist ónze wereld als tot het machtsgebied van de hoogste der gevallen engelen behorende en onze wereld is juist daarom het brandpunt (of één der brandpunten) van de kosmische strijd tussen de incarnaties van het kwaad en de ‘gerechtige’ machten die hun beginsel trouw zijn gebleven.

De Bijbel legt er de nadruk op dat het aanvaarden van de werkelijkheid van demonische machten, die tot op Christus’ wederkomst in onze wereld infiltreren en opereren, van de grootste betekenis is voor een juist inzicht in de achtergronden der wereldgeschiedenis, de heilsgeschiedenis en het eschatologisch perspectief!

De wijze waarop de ‘duivel’ (diabolos) of satan (tegenstander, tegenpartijder, vijand) in de Bijbel getekend wordt, heeft niets te maken met de groteske, middeleeuwse voorstellingen op grond waarvan men terecht het bestaan van een duivel kan verwerpen. De duivel is geen sater met bokspoten, maar de gevallen Lucifer (lichtdrager), van origine zo niet de hoogste, dan toch één der allerhoogste engelen in de hiërarchie, een cherub van overweldigende majesteit en macht, waartegen zelfs aartsengel Michaël geen oordeel durfde in te brengen (Judas 9). De profetie van Jesaja (Jes. 14,12-14) over de koning van Babel en die van Ezechiël over de koning van Tyrus (Ez. 28,12-16) hebben ongetwijfeld dimensies, die de figuur van de Babylonische wereldheerser en de koning van Tyrus te boven gaan. Beide koningen worden in deze profetieën opgevoerd als type van de gevallen en uiteindelijke overwonnen Lucifer, die eens volmaakt van gestalte en wijsheid was, de ‘verzegelaar der som’, een overdekkende cherub en ‘wandelende tussen de goden’. Het was déze lichtdrager en ‘morgenster’ (Lucifer, lichtdrager, morgenster / verg. Job 38,7), déze ‘zoon van de dageraad’, die ‘boven de sterren’ (ook identiek met goden) willen ‘opklimmen’ en zichzelf wilde gelijkstellen aan God. Daarom werd hij van de goden verbannen en uit de hemel gestoten. Zo groot is echter zijn bij de schepping verleende macht, dat hij — ook als uitgestotene — nog erkend wordt als ‘de vorst dezer wereld’. Hij kan Jezus (Jeshua) werkelijk alle rijken van deze aarde aanbieden en hij geeft ze werkelijk aan wie hij wil (Mt. 4,1-11; Mk. 1,12-13; Lk. 4,5-8). Jezus weerspreekt deze aanspraak niet; ook hij verleent de tegenstander nog de titel ‘vorst dezer wereld’. Jezus weet dat sedert de mens zijn koningschap verloor, deze gevallen engel als gebieder van de aardse rijken is toegelaten, totdat de Volkomen Mens zijn wereldomvattend rijk zal stichten. Wél staat de overwinning op de ‘draak’, de ‘leugenaar’ en mensenmoordenaar van den beginne’ vast, maar hem is nog ‘een kleine tijd’ gelaten om zijn verloren strijd te strijden. Hij gaat nog om als een ‘briesende leeuw’ en zaait overal verderf, maar tenslotte is de hem nog toegestane heerschappij dienstig aan het heilsplan, waarin koren en onkruid moeten rijpen tot het oordeel (Mt. 13,24-30; I Petr. 5,8; Ap. 12,12).

Het is nodig hier, vooruitlopend op de volgende hoofdstukken, reeds iets op te merken over de structuur van het Koninkrijk Gods. Velen hebben grote moeite de voorstelling van bovenmenselijke incarnaties van het kwaad te rijmen met de voorstelling van de overwinnende Christus (Messias). In dit verband moet er weer op worden gewezen dat Christus volgens de Bijbelse context wél als de knecht-messias is verschenen, maar dat hij als Koning en Rechter nog moet verschijnen. Op Golgotha is de overwinning in principe bevochten en de opstanding is het grote teken van de overwinning, maar de uitwerking daarvan volgt in fasen. Het presente Koninkrijk Gods is de verborgen gemeenschap van gelovigen in Jezus Christus, de gemeente (ecclesia of ‘onzichtbare kerk’). Dit geestelijk en voor de ‘outsider’ onwaarneembare Koninkrijk Gods is de ‘voorhoede’ en de ‘progressie’ van het eens doorbrekende manifeste Godsrijk onder het koningschap van de wedergekomen Christus. Tot aan deze wederkomst is Christus het hoofd van de gemeente (zijn lichaam), maar is hij niet de wereldmessias; de messiaanse koning over de gehele mensheid.

Het voorbijzien van de fasen en bedelingen in het Koninkrijk Gods is een der belangrijkste aanleidingen tot modern ongeloof en atheïsme! Vele kerken leren immers dat Christus heer is over deze wereld, dat Christus heerschappij voert over de volken en staten. Het is door deze leer dat tallozen zich afkeren van kerk en christendom of er voor gesloten blijven. Zij zien en ervaren dagelijks de onwaarheid van deze leer, die berust op een onjuiste interpretatie. Want de ‘openbaring’ van de ‘kinderen Gods’, waarnaar geheel de schepping hunkert (Rom. 8,18-23) is een toekomstig gebeuren en de tijd dat ‘alle koninkrijken der aarde onzes Heren’ zijn geworden is nog niet aangebroken. Hoeveel schade de identificatie van het Koninkrijk Gods met ‘het christendom’ en met de ‘kerk’ de mensheid berokkend heeft is niet te schatten.

De voorstelling van de Christus-heerschappij en de activiteit van de luciferische machten zijn niet met elkaar in strijd als men ze — overeenkomstig de Bijbelse context — in chronologische volgorde stelt! Dan leven wij in de fase dat Christus’ gemeente in het verborgene wordt opgebouwd en eerst wanneer dit ‘lichaam’ voltooid zal zijn, zullen ‘hoofd’ en ‘lichaam’ verenigd worden om dan als één heilsorganisme macht en invloed van de Tegenstander te breken en het Koninkrijk Gods op aarde op te richten. Eerst als de belichaming van de Volkomen Mens met de daartoe bestemde mensheid voltrokken is, een moment dat samenvalt met de culminatie van luciferische macht op aarde, zal Christus’ overwinning manifest worden en zal volgens de voorstellingen zijn theocratisch-messiaans koningschap over de gehele mensheid ingaan.

In de Bijbelse voorstelling rijpt de wereld naar een oogst, waarin zowel het onkruid als de tarwe tot volheid zullen komen. Er is géén geleidelijke overwinning op het kwaad; integendeel, de machten van het kwaad zullen in raffinement en intensiteit toenemen, naarmate de wederkomst, gericht en koningschap van Christus (Messias) naderen. Aan een toenemende dynamiek van de krachten van het Godsrijk gaat een toenemende woekering van het ‘onkruid’ gepaard.

Volgens de Bijbelse voorstellingswereld ligt de wereld nog in het boze en is zij nog onderworpen aan de — toegelaten — heerschappij van de God- en mensvijandige luciferische machten. Zij zijn in principe door Christus overwonnen, hun lot is beslist, maar hun werking wordt nog toegelaten. ‘Het onkruid wordt niet uitgetrokken, opdat ook de tarwe niet beschadigd zal worden’ (Mt. 13,29). Eerst moet de tarweoogst geheel rijp zijn, eerst moet het Christusorganisme (de gemeente) zijn voltooid, eer het onkruid kan worden uitgetrokken en verbrand. De invloed van de anti-machten moet in de mensen de respons opwekken, die zal leiden tot redding en het beeldschap van de Volkomen Mens, of tot de consequente overgave van de mens aan het luciferisch beginsel. Zij zullen zich uiteindelijk ontpoppen als de ‘niet-mensen’, de potentiële mensen die na afloop van de gestelde tijd niet tot beeldmensen geworden zijn.

De mensheid leeft dus in het machtsgebied van de ‘overste’ der gevallen engelen. Het ‘klimaat’ van onze planeet is fundamenteel en principieel luciferisch, vijandig aan de Volkomen Mens en zijn beeldenaar en beheerst door de begeerte ‘als God’ te zijn. Juist in déze aan de machten onderworpen wereld openbaart God zijn heerlijkheid door er zijn rijk in te laten doorbreken.

De heilsgeschiedenis is de ontvouwing van het heil in een in zichzelf verloren wereld. Het gedoe dat er op deze wereld nog in vele gestalten en ervaringen is, is niet vanzelfsprekend en ‘rechtens’, want de mens existeert sinds zijn val in de wereld van de Tegenstander. Het is de bedoeling van de Volkomen Mens dat de creatuurlijke, potentiële mens zich zijn verlorenheid bewust wordt, dat hij wéét in een verloren, luciferische wereld te leven, waaruit alleen zíjn positieve respons op de liefde van de Volkomen Mens hem redden kan.

De Bijbel stelt dat onze wereld in alle opzichten volkomen verfoeilijk en afzichtelijk is voor de Heilige, die Licht is en een ‘ontoegankelijk licht bewoont’. De enige reden dat hij deze wereld nog in stand houdt is, dat hij dat deel der mensheid dat de reddende hand grijpt, wil ‘oogsten’ en in zijn Koninkrijk wil brengen. Zijn beloften zijn ‘onberouwelijk’ en ‘hij laat niet varen het werk zijn handen’. Ondanks alles moet en zál de Volkomen Mens zich ‘belichamen’ met een mensheid, die naar zijn beeld en gelijkenis is. Daarom ook is de macht van het luciferische op aarde niet absoluut. God heeft de mens de nodige ruimte gelaten om tot het volkomen mens-zijn te kunnen komen. De vorming van het Christus-lichaam houdt de absolute doorbraak van het luciferische nog tegen en schept in de actieradius van dit heilsgebeuren nog een betrekkelijk leefbaar klimaat.

Dat er nog liefde en goedheid in deze wereld gevonden worden, is uitsluitend te danken aan de presentie van Christus in het door hem gevormde en gevoede organisme dat wij ecclesia of gemeente noemen. Liefde en goedheid, geluk en harmonie zijn, zolang als de luciferische machten op deze planeet nog kunnen heersen, wezenlijk aan déze wereld vreemde waarden, vruchten van het koninkrijk Gods dat niet van déze wereld is.

Het zijn niet alleen de eigen menselijke tekorten en zwakheden (wat Paulus het vlees noemt), die het goede leven bedreigen en telkens weer verstoren. De mens heeft vóór alles de strijd te voeren tegen de ‘boze machten uit de hemelse gewesten’ (Ef. 6,12; 2,2). Het zijn de tussenmachten, de beheerders der natuur, die de ‘natuurlijke’ diepste oorzaken zijn van rampen, oorlogen, ziekte en ellende. De mens is wel verantwoordelijk in zovere hij zich laat bespelen door de luciferische machten en toegang verleent aan de demonen, maar deze verantwoordelijkheid sluit niet de realiteit van de ‘bespelers’ en de ‘infiltranten’ uit. Onder de toelating van God is deze wereld het toneel van de strijd tussen de gerechtige machten en de satanische machten, met als inzet de respons van de mens.

3. Religie als luciferische begoocheling

Het belangrijkste wapen in de handen der luciferische machten is de leugen, niet slechts in de zin van een menselijke onwaarheid spreken, maar geheel en al in de zin van verleugening van alle waarden! Deze verleugening strekt zich uit over alle levensgebieden en is zo geniaal, dat alleen de bijzondere openbaring van God aan de daarvoor ontvankelijke mens haar ontmaskeren kan. De satanische leugen is niet evident, integendeel, zij is verhuld in categorieën van gevoel en verstand, in feiten en gebeurtenissen die de schijn van waarheid hebben.

Een treffend voorbeeld van het karakter van de satanische leugen is reeds het paradijsverhaal. In zekere zin spreek de ‘vader der leugenen’ immers de waarheid, als hij de mens voorhoudt dat deze, ná het eten van de verboden vrucht, als God zal zijn. God bevestigd dit zelf, als hij na de daad zegt: ‘de mens is nu geworden als Onzer een’ (Gen. 3,22). De leugen van de satanische ‘waarheid’ is de ‘halve waarheid’. Slechts in een zeer bepaald opzicht is de mens door het eten van de verboden vrucht ‘als God’ geworden. Hij kent nu ‘goed en kwaad’, maar juist dát zal de dood tengevolge hebben. De bedreiging met de dood, waarvan Eva spreekt als de verleider haar tot ongehoorzaamheid aanzet, wordt door hem met een kwasi-diepzinnige en logische opmerking luchtig weggevaagd. Als je de vrucht der kennis tot je neemt, weet je álles (hebr: goed én kwaad), dan ben je ‘als God’ en omdat God dat wéét, heeft hij je met de dood bedreigd. Als je eenmaal alles kent, bén je ‘als God’ en dát betekent: eeuwig leven. De voorwaarde der gehoorzaamheid om het eeuwige leven te bereiken wordt verdoezeld, het ‘middel’ (de Boom des Levens) wordt verzwegen en het doel: het eeuwige leven, onder de aandacht gebracht.

De schijn van waarheid werkt begoochelend; de satanische leugen is nooit pertinent en onmiddellijk kenbaar. Nergens is dit duidelijker dan in de religie, waarin ‘de vorst dezer wereld’ zijn hoogste troeven uitspeelt. Dat juist de religie bij uitstek het werkterrein van satanische macht is, vindt zijn verklaring in het wezen van de gevallen engelen. Zij willen immers gelijk aan God zijn en aanbeden worden (Jes. 14,13-14; Mt. 4,8-9). Hij vindt, om dit te bereiken, in de gevallen mens een uiterst vruchtbaar arbeidsterrein. De mens heeft na de val de natuurlijke communicatie met God verloren, maar in hem resten noties van zijn afkomst en bestemming, het smartelijk gevoel ‘het doel gemist te hebben’ (gezondigd te hebben) en verlangen naar God. Naast deze positieve gevoelens wordt hij echter ook beheerst door angst, vrees voor de eenzaamheid in hemzelf, voor de grondeloosheid van zijn existentie en voor de dreigingen uit de hem omringende wereld. Zonder te kunnen rusten in de eeuwige Vader die alles omvat, ondanks zijn val bestemd voor aanbidding, maar niet wetende wíe hij moet aanbidden, bevreesd voor het kwaad, maar tóch kwaad doende, verbijsterd door de dreiging van eigen geweten en de overweldigende machten die hem omringen en bedreigen, hunkert de mens naar zingeving, houvast en geborgenheid.

Nu kan men stellen dat de mens zélf, vanuit deze nood zijn eigen afgoden geprojecteerd heeft. De primitieve mens zag in de hem omringende wereld de gestalten en uitingen van zijn goden w.o. hemellichamen, natuurkrachten, mensen en dieren. De meer ontwikkelde volken projecteerden zich abstracter, meestal anthropomorfe goden of zelfs één god, en kwamen zó tegemoet aan hun religieuze behoefte. Deze visie kan op zichzelf juist zijn als een halve waarheid, maar zij is volkomen ontoereikend omdat de vraag naar de authenticiteit van openbaring en overlevering niet afdoende is beantwoord en in haar overwegingen zijn verdisconteerd! Alle min of meer op Freud en Feuerbach geïnspireerde theorieën over ontstaan en wezen der religie negeren de vraag naar de authenticiteit van openbaring en overlevering. Deze twee uiterst belangrijke bronnen worden a priori tot de projectie gerekend en als verzinsels terzijde gesteld. Afgezien van deze vooringenomen onwetenschappelijkheid, sluit het overigens onmiskenbare feit der religieuze projectie de authenticiteit van overlevering van ultra-reële verschijnselen en openbaring niet uit! Ook al brengt de mens zijn afgoden zelf voort, impliceert dit psychisch proces niet, dat er objectief geen goden zouden zijn. Al is er sprake van religieuze projectie, die herleid kan worden tot de psyche van de mens, dan sluit dit niet de mogelijkheid van buiten-menselijke inspiratie en beïnvloeding uit.

Hoe kunnen wij ons deze luciferische activiteiten, met in name in onze moderne wereld, denken? Wij zouden het ons als volgt kunnen voorstellen:

De na de val voor luciferische invloeden toegankelijke mens ‘luister’ naar de ‘negatieve informatie’, die hem voortdurend wordt verschaft. De luciferische machten appelleren vóór alles aan de religieuze behoeften en de existentiële angst van de mens. Zij beantwoorden aan deze gevoelens door de mens te richten op religieuze systemen waarin niet de Enige God, maar zij de objecten zijn! De machten van het kwaad infiltreren in de gevoels- en denkfuncties van de mens op zodanige wijze, dat deze zich — wanneer hij de Enige, zich openbarende God niet — aan hún dienst en verering verbindt. Hierbij tonen de luciferische machten een geniaal aanpassingsvermogen, al naar gelang van omstandigheden en ontwikkelingsfase. Want er is fundamenteel geen onderscheid tussen de primitieve animist of aanbidder van stenen en houten afgoden en de verlichte, moderne mens die zich verliest in spiritisme en astrologie, of zich overgeeft aan wereldbeschouwelijke beelden die vergoddelijkt worden of in de plaats van God worden gesteld. In het licht van de openbaring is alle religie waarin de Enige God zich niet zélf openbaart, luciferisch van karakter. Van het grofste satanisme tot het verfijnste en verhevenste systeem van spiritualisme en symbolisme, waarin Gods Zelfopenbaring niet gevonden wordt, is de ‘overste van deze wereld’ de auteur en inspirator! Spiritisme bijvoorbeeld wordt in de Bijbel expliciet veroordeeld en als satanisch ontmaskerd (Deut. 18,10-11; Lev. 19,31; 20,27; II Kon. 23,24; Jes. 8,19-20). De ultra-reële verschijnselen, die soms bij séances optreden moeten aan onbekende krachten worden toegeschreven, die gewekt en geleid worden door luciferische machten. Erger nog dan deze confrontatie met de wereld van demonen, is de wereldbeschouwing van het spiritisme, de grote satanische leugen dat de mens onvoorwaardelijk onsterfelijk zou zijn en ook als zodanig geschapen is. De waan dat de mens slechts reïncarneert en niet sterft, heeft de meest funeste gevolgen. Deze illusie is namelijk gericht op het verdoezelen en negeren van de respons, die de mens binnen een bepaald tijdsbestek moet geven op de hem geboden mogelijkheid om tot het beeldschap te komen (Lk. 16,19-31; Pred. 3,17-21; Hebr. 10,27; Ap. 20,11-13).

Ook het zich afhankelijk stellen van het lotsbepalend vermogen van de hemellichamen wordt onmiskenbaar als afgoderij ontmaskerd. Dit geschiedt beslist níet omdat hemellichamen geen invloed zouden hebben op het mensenlot; integendeel geldt het verbod om ‘de sterren’ te vragen juist omdat deze in de openbaring worden geïdentificeerd met goden en zij wezenlijk tussenmachten zijn die een functie vervullen in de evolutie van de mensheid.

In luciferisch licht kunnen wij ook de mythologische godenleer zien en zelfs de wereldreligies, in zoverre deze gericht zijn op een niet geopenbaarde godheid en creatuurlijke tussenmachten. Vanuit het openbaringsgegeven van de Bijbel zijn dit alle religies, die niet zijn uitgegaan van en gericht zijn op de Ene en Enige, die zich geopenbaard heeft in JHVH/Christus (Ex. 34,14; Deut. 6,4; Ps. 18,32; 86,10; 96,15; Jes. 44,6; 45,5; I Kor. 8,5; 10,19-20; II Kor. 4,4).

Het Bijbels gegeven dat alle niet op -JHVH/Christus/Messias- gerichte religies luciferisch van hoedanigheid zijn, voert consequent tot het onderkennen van luciferische vormen en elementen in het christendom. Een christendom dat niet uitgaat van de geopenbaarde God zoals hij ís en waarin feitelijk creatuurlijke beelden en machten de plaats hebben ingenomen van de zich openbarende God in Jezus Christus, moet als luciferisch worden beschouwd en beoordeeld. De Apocalyps spreekt reeds van de ‘synagoge van satan’ en I Timotheus waarschuwt tegen ‘leringen van boze geesten’ en door deze machten geïnspireerde dwaalleraren (I Tim. 4,1; Ap. 2,9,13; 3,9). De vroeg-christelijke apologieën, ofschoon zelf niet van heidense smetten vrij, zijn een en al waarschuwing en verweer tegen leringen die het evangelie verdraaien en verduisteren.

Eenmaal aanvaardend dat het christendom als religieus-cultureel fenomeen talrijke luciferische fundaties en trekken heeft, zal zeer veel ons duidelijk worden als wij de geschiedenis van het christendom nagaan. Dan komen bijvoorbeeld het misbruik van het pausdom, de usurpators in de kerk, de ‘christelijke’ godsdienstoorlogen, de wrede praktijken van de inquisitie en de onevangelische trekken in de reformatie tegen de achtergrond van luciferische invloeden en manipulaties te staan!

Men zou dan Constantijns overgang naar het christendom veel minder positief kunnen beoordelen dan christelijke onderzoekers gewoonlijk doen. Want Constantijns overgang naar het christendom mag de jonge christenheid uit het duister der catacomben naar het licht hebben gebracht en voor het evangelie de weg naar het heidense Europa hebben gebaand, toch was deze massale overgang naar ‘het christendom’ voor miljoenen niets anders dan een min of meer gedwongen en opportunistisch ‘aannemen’ van een staatsgodsdienst. Men kan dit natuurlijk als een historische ontwikkeling verklaren, maar ‘daarachter’ evenzeer de superieure intelligentie van de grote tegenstander vermoeden. De massale overgang naar ‘het christendom’ is misschien het grootste beletsel geweest voor de opbouw van de wezenlijke kerk (ecclesia), die immers níet de ‘aanvaarding van een opgelegde godsdienst’ kan betekenen, maar geheel en al geloof en inlijving in Christus veronderstelt. Onwillekeurig denken wij bij luciferische invloeden ook aan de Helleense en gnostische beeldvorming in de christelijke theologie, aan de talrijke onevangelische Jezus-beelden en de vermythologisering van de oudtestamentische JHVH tot een wrede wraakgod, het loochenen van Jezus’ plaatsvervangend lijden en zijn bloedoffer, alsmede de loochening van zijn Godheid.

Naast deze duistere invloed in de religie onderkent de Bijbel het helse spel van de tegenstander en de hem horige machten in alle andere uitingen en gemeenschapsvormen van de mens. Zij beheersen all kwade machten in de naties en in de politiek. Een duivelse beweging als die der nazi’s zien wij dan geïnspireerd en gedirigeerd door demonen! De aan alle menselijkheid vreemde gruwelen in de concentratiekampen en de bewuste en stelselmatige poging alle Joden uit te roeien (het volk dat volgens de Bijbel een centrale functie zal krijgen in de nieuwe wereld van die nieuwe eeuw/aioon), zijn verschijnselen die wij ervaren als ‘jenseits’ van ‘gewoon’ menselijk goed en kwaad. In het licht van de voorstelling over het luciferische is Hitler niet alleen maar een boosaardige gek die politiek de wind mee had, maar dan komt hij veel duidelijker uit de verf als een demon die alleen uiterlijk iets met een mens gemeen had. In dit licht kunnen wij hem — veel duidelijker dan bij enige psychologische duiding mogelijk is — zien als een van de weinige pseudo-mensen op aarde die, hoewel geboren uit menselijk ouders, een niet-menselijke achtergrond en signatuur hebben.

De belangrijkste luciferische drijfveer van Hitler was de liquidatie van de Joden, waarvan de luciferische machten immers weten dat zij de ‘sleutel’ tot het toekomstige Godsrijk op aarde zijn. Ook uit een figuur als Eichmann is demonische invloed af te leiden. Vooral uit Mulisch’ [Harry Mulish: ‘De zaak 40-61’, Amsterdam 1962] geniale reportage blijkt een robotachtige ont-menselijking van de Jodenverdelger Eichmann, een slaafse horigheid die sterk doet denken aan een geprogrammeerde bio-robot. In een wereldbeeld waarin het luciferische wordt verdisconteerd worden figuren als Hitler, Eichmann, Himmler en bezetenen als Antiochus Epiphanes, Nero, Raspoetin, monsters als Herodes en Landru, veel meer dan krankzinnigen en gestoorden. Zij maken allen een gehypnotiseerde indruk en lijken sterk ‘geconditioneerd’, als in een trance, gehoor gevend aan impulsen waarvoor de eigen menselijke structuur moet zwijgen.

Wie Hitler, Goebbels, Eichmann en Himmler vergelijkt met een gewone misdadige opportunist en wellusteling als Goering en een dwaas als Hess ziet een moeilijk te definiëren maar onmiskenbaar verschil, waardoor bij de eerste groep duidelijk het demonische karakter aan de dag treedt, iets van de ‘andere zijde’ dat niet tot de mens en menselijkheid te herleiden is. Ook historici die onze visie op het luciferische niet kunnen delen, hebben niettemin aangevoeld dat de Tweede Wereldoorlog primair en in essentie een strijd tussen geestelijke machten is geweest, met infernale en demonische achtergronden die ver uitgingen boven politiek, economische, sociale en psycho-sociologische motieven.

Maar niet alleen de contemporaine geschiedenis, de gehele historie kan men interpreteren vanuit de Bijbelse voorstelling van onnaspeurlijke drijfveren en verblindingen, die aan de ‘vader der leugen’ en ‘de mensenmoordenaar’ ontspruiten.

Het is niet zo moeilijk de oude voorstellingen van saters en monsters te vervangen door het beeld van een ‘braintrust’ van energetische bewustzijns, die de wereld intelligent, stelselmatig en geraffineerd verleiden, uithollen en rijp maken voor een totale vernietiging van een mensheid voor wie de Volkomen Mens de kroon over de ganse schepping heeft weggelegd.

Als wij aan energetische structuren denken is het in geen enkel opzicht maatgevend dat wij de luciferische machten niet kunnen waarnemen in de conferentiezalen en in de laboratoria, de centrales van geheime diensten en in de paleizen. De sleutelposities van politieke machten, van economie en wetenschap kunnen bezet zijn door integere of zwakke en misdadige figuren; volgens de Bijbelse voorstellingen worden allen die niet in Christus/Messias existeren door de luciferische machten bespeeld!

Deze voorstelling wordt van een zeer dreigend en beklemmend gewicht als wij haar uitwerking in eschatologie en apocalyptiek zien! De toespitsing der tegenstellingen naarmate het Godsrijk aan Israël naderbij komt, brengt immers een eenparig versnellende beweging van het luciferische met zich mee. Naarmate zij wetenschap en techniek meer gaan beheersen zullen zij ook via de wetenschappelijke verworvenheden meer vat te krijgen op de menselijke geest — zo stelt de Bijbel vast. Het is naar onze overtuiging van het grootste belang vooral de ontstellend toenemend gebruikt van narcotica onder de jeugd, de ontwikkeling van bewustzijnsdeformerende technieken en preparaten en allerlei snel om zich heen grijpende demonieën, in het zwarte licht van de luciferische expansie te plaatsen.

Uit: IK BEN DIE IK BEN / Eigentijdse en futuristische begrippen verbonden aan de profetie van de bijbel / pag. 343-365 – dhr. Huib Verweij.

Zie ook: DE OORLOG TEGEN DE HEILIGEN / Handboek voor de strijd in de hemelse gewesten / JESSIE PENN-LEWIS & EVAN ROBERTS



1. Rijping en oogst; weeën en baring

De apocalyptisch-futuristische beelden kunnen niet begrepen worden als zij niet geplaatst worden in de ene, grote heilshistorische voorstelling van het zich ook in de menselijke tijdsorde ontvouwende Koninkrijk Gods. Het Godsrijk wordt door Christus als een vrucht uit de ‘schillen’ van onze wereld gepeld. Het geschiedenisbeeld van de Bijbel is dat van een groei en een oogst. De rijping van de geschiedenis tot een oogst is zowel het beeld van de ‘totale’ heilsgeschiedenis als dat van bepaalde fasen in de ontvouwing van het Godsrijk. Het principe van groei en oogst wordt in de Bijbel vooral uitgedrukt in het begrip ‘volheid’ en ‘vervulling’. Vervulling wijst op de realisering, op het vól-maken van Gods beloften en aanzeggingen (profetie) van Godswege; volheid op het ‘vol-zijn’ van een bepaalde ‘maat’. Een bepaalde ‘maat’ moet ‘vol’ zijn, een lichaam vol-groeid, een gebouw vol-tooid, een ontwikkeling vol-wassen, vóór God ingrijpt.

Zeer belangrijk in dit beeld is het principe, dat de groei zich voltrekt in aan elkander tegengestelde en vijandige entiteiten en de oogst altijd een scheiding betekent tussen deze twee vol-groeide beginselen. De wereldakker wordt bezaaid door Christus én de Tegenstander; tarwe en onkruid groeien beide op tot de oogst! Het onkruid wordt niet uitgetrokken vóór de tarwe rijp is, opdat ook de tarwe niet beschadigd wordt. Eerst als de oogst vol-groeid is en de tarwe rijp, komt de oogsttijd. Dán kan het onkruid, dat inmiddels óók tot volle ontplooiing is gekomen, éérst worden uitgetrokken en verbrand en vervolgens het koren worden geoogst en geborgen (Mt. 13, 24-30). Het kwaad blijft de metgezel en verstoorder van het goede, totdat het goede rijp is voor de oogst. Het mosterdzaadje moet tot een vol-wassen boom worden, het gist moet het baksel geheel doortrokken hebben en het visnet moet vol zijn voordat het met goed resultaat kan worden opgehaald (Mt. 13,31-33, 47-50).

De openbaring is in tegenspraak met een vooruitgangsleer, waarin de positieve elementen in mens en cultuur geleidelijk het kwaad zullen overwinnen. Goed en kwaad zullen integendeel beide ‘vol’ worden, waarna het kwaad door God wordt uitgezuiverd.

De z.g. ‘tijdloze eschatologie’, zoals deze vooral in de dialectische theologie van de ‘vroegere’ Barth tot uitdrukking komt en de ‘actuele eschatologie’ van het eigenwereldlijk secularisme pasten het principe van de volheid met nadruk toe op het ogenblikkelijke heil van de individuele mens. Gods ‘maat’ is altijd vol en ‘nu’ is de volheid der tijden. Maar dit transcendenteren van het heil der volheid in het presente mag op zichzelf de vertolking van een waarheid zijn, het is toch ook een onverantwoorde eenzijdigheid die het gehele Bijbels eschaton geweld aandoet. In deze theologie worden de wereldhistorische, zich in opeenvolgende tijdperken voltrekkende fasen en gestalten van het heil voor de mensheid als totaliteit, geheel verwaarloosd. Met de menswording van Christus is weliswaar de volheid der tijden ingegaan, zoals trouwens alle tijden ‘vol’ zijn van de eeuwige God, maar déze werkelijkheid sluit geenszins de waarheid van een wording in de historische tijd uit!

Het regelmatig in de openbaring weerkerende ‘totdat’, uitdrukkingen als ‘de toekomende eeuw’ en ‘in die dagen’ duiden onmiskenbaar op een opeenvolging van heilshistorische gebeurtenissen in een door tijd en duur gemarkeerde wereld. ‘Tussen’ het eeuwige ‘Begin’ en het ‘Einde’ dat God zelf ís, begint hij en beëindigd hij de heilsgeschiedenis in de menselijke tijdsorde. In de profetische boeken wordt herhaaldelijk van een ‘eindtijd’ gesproken als een toekomstig gebeuren. Op de vraag in het boek Daniël ‘hoelang het einde toeft’ is het antwoord uitgedrukt in tijdsmaten en wordt tevens uitgesproken, ‘dat deze dingen voleindigd zullen zijn als er een einde komt aan het verbrijzelen van de macht van het heilige volk (Dan. 12,5-9; 7,25; Ap. 12,14). Christus toont in zijn openbaring aan Johannes (Ap. 1,2) niet alleen wat er geschied is en wat er geschiedt, maar tevens ‘wat er ná deze geschieden zál’ (Ap. 1,19; 4,1) en over de voleinding sprekende verklaart hij dat ‘al deze dingen moeten geschieden vóór het einde komt’ en ‘nóg is het einde niet’. Op de vraag van de discipelen naar de oprichting van het Koninkrijk Gods in Israël spreekt Jezus van ‘tijden en gelegenheden’ die nog verborgen zijn en in Handelingen wordt geopenbaard dat Jezus in de hemel moest worden opgenomen tot de tijden van de wederoprichting van alle dingen (Hand. 1,6-7; 3,21).

‘Wacht op Mij’ zegt JHVH, ‘op de dag dat Ik zal opstaan … en met alle volken in het gericht zal treden’. Tenslotte herinneren wij aan de parabel van de man die lange tijd afwezig is om zijn koningsmacht te ontvangen (Lk. 19,11-12; Mt. 25,14-19) en de verzekering van de apostel dat de dag van Christus’ manifeste openbaring niet komt voordat de ‘mens der zonde’ zich als God zal laten aanbidden (II Thess. 2,1-4). De apocrief Ezra IV vat het principe van de volheid treffend samen: de oogst komt als het getal der zaden vervuld is, de tijden zijn met een maat gemeten en met een getal geteld. God roert en beweegt zich niet tot de voorzegde maat vervuld is en als de negen maanden van een zwangerschap vervuld zijn, kan de baarmoeder het kind niet meer vasthouden (IV Ezra 4,36–37, 40). Het laatste beeld herinnert ons aan de weeën die de geboorte voorafgaan, een beeld dat ook Jezus gebruikt in zijn eschatologische rede en Paulus ter illustratie geeft van de pijn die aan de geboorte van de nieuwe wereld moet voorafgaan (Mt. 24,8; I Thess. 5,3; Rom. 8:22). Het is een belangrijke vergelijking, daar het wijst op de betekenis van de verschijnselen die met de benadering van de volheid optreden. Weeën zijn niet alleen pijnlijk, maar zij zijn ook nuttig als waarschuwing dat de geboorte nadert en troost, dat er na al deze pijn iets nieuws geboren zal worden. In de tweede plaats is het een aanduiding dat het uur van de geboorte nadert naarmate de intensiteit der weeën toeneemt. De culminatiepunten in de fasen der heilsgeschiedenis gaan dan ook gepaard met in hevigheid toenemende weeën. Alle culturen gaan trouwens ten onder in een steeds heviger en vernietigende culminatie der rampen.

De gerichtsprofetie van de Bijbel is overigens nooit sprekender geweest dan in onze tijd, nu wij, in tegenstelling tot alle voorgaande tijden, over de vernietigingsmiddelen beschikken om zélf de apocalyptische beelden van totale ondergang waar te maken! Men kan weigeren deze voorstellingen in zijn bewustzijn toe te laten, omdat alles in ons zich tegen deze ‘laatste mogelijkheid’ verzet, toch staat met mathematische zekerheid vast, dat een derde wereldoorlog in ieder geval de verschrikkingen van de tweede onvoorstelbaar zal overtreffen. Hiermee is niet beweerd, dat een derde wereldoorlog teven het apocalyptische einde is. Het is mogelijk dat zelfs deze oorlog ‘nóg het einde niet is’, maar zeker is dat de ‘weeën’ der wereld steeds heviger, steeds omvangrijker en vreselijker zullen zijn naarmate het culminatiepunt der mensheid-evolutie nadert!

Nog even teruggrijpende op de voorstelling van de Volkomen Mens en de creatuurlijke mens herinneren wij ons dat het heilsplan op een bepaald tijdstip moet worden afgesloten. De Volkomen Mens heeft zich een bepaalde tijd gesteld, waarin een aantal van de door hem geschapen menselijke wezens aan zijn bedoelingen zal hebben beantwoord en een andere categorie zal hebben gefaald. Wanneer het door de Volkomen Mens beoogde getal der positief reagerende wezens ‘vol’ is, wordt het proces afgesloten met een ‘selectie’, waarbij de positief reagerenden in de wereld van de Volkomen Mens worden opgenomen en de negatief reagerenden worden afgevoerd.

In werkelijkheid is er van een dergelijke kille laboratoriumopzet in Gods schepping geen sprake. De gehele schepping is een uiting van Gods liefde en alles wat daarin negatief op deze liefde reageert is níet uit God, maar schuldige tegenstand van bewuste wezens. Het ‘afvoeren’ van de falende wezens is geen bloot zakelijke daad, zoals men een afgekeurde partij goederen van de hand kan doen. Het in het gericht brengen van schuldige menselijke wezens is een zedelijke daad. Deze daad is des te meer gerechtvaardigd, waar de mens, ondanks zijn schuld jegens God, tenslotte niet om déze schuld geoordeeld wordt, maar om de schuld die ontstaat wanneer hij de middelen tot schulddelging en de door God geboden wegen om alsnog zijn bestemming te bereiken afwijst! Niet de zondaren worden tenslotte buiten het Godsrijk gestoten (want dan zou dit lot alle mensen treffen), maar uitsluitend de niet-mensen, d.w.z. degenen die zo volkomen afstand van het beeldschap hebben gedaan, dat er van hen geen spoor van liefde en verlangen naar God is overgebleven, maar integendeel bewuste overgave aan het kwaad en bewuste vijandschap tegen God.

De eindgerichten over de wereld moeten overigens wel onderscheiden worden van de definitieve ‘selectie’ in het Laatste Oordeel. Het Bijbelse begrip ‘gericht’ heeft zeker aspecten van oordeel over een God-vijandige mensheid, maar primair houdt het begrip ‘rechtmaken’ of ‘wederoprichten’ in. De gerichten treffen trouwens zowel de ‘rechte mensen’ (de rechtvaardigen) als de ‘on-rechte mensen’ (de onrechtvaardigen). Ook in de gerichten straalt Gods liefde, want zò leert hij de daarvoor gevoelige mensen alsnog tot hem te komen en in het martelaarschap wordt de prijs voor een bijzondere erfenis in het Koninkrijk Gods betaald (Ap. 2,10; 7,13-17).

Het eindgericht staat in het teken van de her-schepping, de vernietiging van alle destructieve machten, het zuiveren van een verdorven wereld, bekroond door de absolute overwinning van Christus/Messias op de Tegenstander en zijn rijk, en Christus’ manifeste heerschappij op aarde. Het Bijbelse begrip ‘gericht’ is daarom volstrekt niet uitsluitend een vernietiging, het is vooral een oprichting, een herstel van Goddelijke orde en harmonie. Deze weder-herstelling is wezenlijk een liefdedaad, want de vernietiging van de door luciferische machten gebonden wereld is noodzakelijk om het beloofde heil te realiseren. In de eindgerichten wordt wel ‘de ganse grimmigheid van Gods toorn’ over de wereld uitgestort, maar déze wraak is in de dubbele betekenis van dit woord gericht tegen alles wat het rijk van liefde en gerechtigheid heeft tegengestaan en verhinderd door te breken. Het is dus een wraak ten behoeve van de mens en tégen alles wat luciferisch en níet-mens is.

De Godsgerichten hebben in geen enkel opzicht iets te maken met de kleinzielige wraakoefening van een door zijn schepselen beledigde godheid; dit is een mythologische voorstelling die geheel vreemd is aan die van de openbaring. Overal waar in de Bijbel gesproken wordt van de ‘toornende’ en ‘wrekende’ God houden deze begrippen een gericht in tegen alles wat zijn heil weerstaat en het zijn dus de gevoelens en uitingen van een Vader, die vernietigt wat het leven en de bestemming van zijn kinderen bedreigt! Dat daarbij ook vele hoofden van rechtvaardigen vallen is, zoals reeds opgemerkt, geen eindoordeel over deze mensen. Déze slachtoffers der gerichten worden na hun transmutatie tóch en dan in een bijzondere positie in het Koninkrijk Gods opgenomen. Hier is niet de vraag in het geding wie en hoevelen er in het eindgericht zullen vallen, maar hoe men de gerichten zal ondergaan en met welke houding tegenover de God der gerichten. Naast het beeld van de oogst kent de Bijbel immers ook het beeld van het dorsen. Als God in de eindgerichten de mensheid zal ‘dorsen’ (Jes. 27,12; Hab. 3,12; Micha 4,12), vindt wel een massale ‘verplettering’ plaats, maar in de ‘gedorste’ volken moet koren van kaf worden onderscheiden. Zoals bij de ‘tarwe’ en het ‘onkruid’ worden ook koren en kaf gescheiden.

2. Herkenbaarheid van de eindgerichten

Zijn de eindgerichten geheel of ten dele herkenbaar voor de mensheid waaraan zij zich voltrekken? Onderscheiden zij zich zodanig van voorgaande rampen en catastrofen dat zij als de geprofeteerde Godsgerichten kunnen worden onderkend? Is er een betrouwbaar herkenningspunt in de geschiedenis dat het begin van het einde markeert?

In alle eeuwen van het christendom zijn er pogingen gedaan deze herkenningspunten in de voorbije en eigentijdse geschiedenis aan te wijzen. Bij deze pogingen speelde natuurlijk een belangrijke rol dat men het apocalyptisch gebeuren ‘achter de rug’ wilde hebben of, door het in de contemporaine geschiedenis te plaatsen, als ‘bewijs’ wilden hanteren dat het Godsrijk nú zou aanbreken. Zo werd de figuur van de antichrist vereenzelvigd met verschillende wrede en goddelijk vereerde Romeinse keizers, onder wier regiem zovele christenen de martelaarsdood stierven. Later werden veroveraars als Attila, Dzenghis Khan en Napoleon als de antichrist gedoodverfd en in onze tijd bezweken sommigen voor de verleiding Stalin en Hitler met de apocalyptische antichrist te identificeren. In alle tijden vond men wel zondebokken en satanische gestalten om er de antichrist mee aan te duiden en het is niet zonder ironie te zien, hoe Rome een man als Luther tot antichrist uitriep en de reformatie op haar beurt verschillende pausen als zodanig betitelde.

Wij mogen natuurlijk niet ontkennen dat de geschiedenis verschillende typen van de antichrist heeft opgeleverd en dat met name een luciferische incarnatie als Hitler de apocalyptische gestalte nabij kwam. Ook houdt de voorstelling in dat het anti-christelijk beginsel naar de brief van Johannes reeds in de wereld werkt (I Joh. 2,18; 4,1-3). Tevens kan gezegd worden dat de apocalyptische ruiters, beelden van oorlog, honger en massale dood van álle tijden zijn, maar de specifieke kenmerken van deze en andere apocalyptische beelden zijn nog niet in de geschiedenis gevonden. Als men bijvoorbeeld opmerkt, dat wij in de beide wereldoorlogen reeds frappante vervullingen kunnen zien van de profetie dat de verslagenen ‘de aarde van het ene einde tot het andere einde bedekken’ (Jer. 25,32-33) en de mensen ‘als mest op de aardbodem zullen zijn (Jer. 25,33), kan men dit zonder bezwaar in het perspectief van de profetie zien, maar deze zienswijze garandeert natuurlijk niet dat er nog niet adequater, concreter en vooral samenhangende realisaties zullen komen! In hoofdzaak gaat het bij de herkenning der vervulling om de samenhang van het profetisch patroon. Ongeacht de motieven tot het hineininterpretieren van de apocalyps in historische of eigentijdse situaties, kan dit nooit verantwoord zijn, zolang zeer bepaalde kenmerken, verbanden en samenhangen, die door de profetie zélf zijn aangewezen, niet evident zijn. Het probleem zou niet aan de orde zijn als de manifeste wederkomst van Christus alle andere apocalyptische gebeurtenissen zou voorafgaan, maar dat is niet het geval. De wederkomst is wel het hoogtepunt in het gebeuren en tevens de aanvang van het messiaanse rijk, maar de wederkomst wordt ingeleid door een reeks eindgerichten en is daar de climax van.

Nu kunnen wij ons afvragen of alle gebeurtenissen vóór de wederkomst dan zonder meer gevoegd kunnen worden in het ‘normale’ historische patroon van calamiteiten, zoals natuurrampen, oorlogen, revoluties, vervolgingen, epidemieën en hongersnoden. Zou dit zo zijn, dan was er immers geen enkel herkenningspunt van de eindgerichten vóór de wederkomst mogelijk. De samenhang in de profetie biedt o.i. evenwel bepaalde herkenningspunten van de eindgerichten, niet zozeer door een bepaalde chronologie in de Apocalyps als zodanig (deze staat niet altijd vast), maar wel door bepaalde expliciete uitspraken in het totale patroon van de profetie. Deze uitspraken tonen een zodanig verband, dat wij in ieder geval kunnen weten, dat bepaalde gebeurtenissen niet kunnen geschieden vóór andere feiten aanwijsbaar zijn.

In dit verband moet gewezen worden op de herhaalde profetie, dat de eindgerichten verband houden met de terugkeer van de Joden naar Palestina. Hiermee is niet beweerd dat de eindgerichten zullen beginnen zodra de Joden in het erfland Israël zijn teruggekeerd; slechts wordt hiermee aangeduid dat de eindgerichten niet over de mensheid zullen komen vóór de Joden zich definitief in het erfland gevestigd hebben. Aan de tegenwoordige staat Israël — hoe uiterst belangrijk en tekenend deze ook als een mogelijk begin van vervulling van de nog onvervulde profetie over Israël en de volken kan worden beschouwd — mogen in dit stadium nog geen gevolgtrekkingen voor de eindtijd verbonden worden. Deze overigens wonderbare herleving van Juda na twintig eeuwen verstrooiing en uitmoording kan wel niet meer ongedaan worden gemaakt, maar van herstel tot een theocratische natie is nog geen sprake. Deze ontwikkeling kan nog lang gerekt worden, gezien de nog geringe bewustheid van zijn messiaanse zending in het volk zelf en het nog uitblijven van de Tempelbouw die in de profetie onlosmakelijk aan de theocratie van Israël verbonden wordt. Sinds wij dit schreven is de mogelijkheid van Tempelbouw door de zesdaagse oorlog in juni 1967 overigens veel meer naderbij gekomen en nu in 2020 met de reeds ontstane ontwikkelingen zeer aannemelijk geworden! De plannen tot herbouw van de Tempel hadden in bepaalde orthodox Joodse kringen reeds vorm aangenomen, maar de plaats waar de oude Tempel stond, lag tot voor kort nog op Jordaans gebied. Nu het Jordaans gedeelte van Jeruzalem door Israël is geannexeerd, is ook het Tempelgebied in handen van de Joden gekomen. Dit neemt niet weg dat Tempelbouw op de daartoe geëigende plaats nog op enorme moeilijkheden kan stuiten, zodat er nog veel veranderen moet, wil men van Juda’s herstel spreken in de zin die de profeten daaraan hechtten en dat in verband gebracht kan worden met de eindtijd.

Hoe belangrijk het gebeuren met Israël ook kan zijn als een kenteken van het naderen van de eindtijd, het eerste en onmiskenbare teken dat de periode van de eindgerichten zal zijn aangebroken is van geheel andere aard.

De sleutel tot deze kennis wordt ons verschaft door de openbaring, dat de gemeente van Christus, het Christus-organisme dat gevormd wordt vanaf Christus’ eerste verschijning tot aan de periode der eindgerichten, voltooid zal zijn vóór de eindgerichten zullen aanvangen. De gemeente van Christus is, zoals herhaaldelijk is uiteengezet, een zeer bijzondere grootheid in het Koninkrijk Gods. Zij mag niet vereenzelvigd worden met de gehele mensheid die in het Koninkrijk Gods wordt opgenomen, want zij is daarvan onderscheiden. Bij de bespreking van de ontvouwing en de gestalten van het Koninkrijk Gods (hfdst. VI) werd gesproken over mensen met een hemelse en mensen met een aardse bestemming in het Godsrijk en tevens werd aangeduid, dat het hemels Rijk als zodanig ook weer onderscheidingen kent. Ook vele gelovigen die tijdens de eindgerichten tot Christus komen zullen in het hemelrijk worden opgenomen, maar deze ‘grote schare’ (Ap. 7,9-14) behoort niet tot het eigenlijke Christus-lichaam, dat voltooid is vóór de eindgerichten en de ‘top’ van de hiërarchie in het Koninkrijk Gods zal vormen. Er is natuurlijk geen bezwaar tegen hen tot de gemeente van Christus in ‘bredere zin’ te rekenen, mits dan het begrip ‘gemeente’ maar niet wordt vereenzelvigd met het Lichaam van Christus, het aan Christus gelijkvormige en mét hem heersende en oordelende organisme, dat men dan onderscheidenlijk de ‘gemeente der eerstelingen’ zou kunnen noemen.

Terloops is in deze omschrijving reeds aangeduid dat de eigenlijke ‘gemeente van Christus’ voltooid is vóór de eindgerichten over de mensheid komen, hetgeen op zichzelf reeds impliceert dat zij deze gerichten ook niet zal ondergaan. Integendeel wordt geopenbaard dat deze gemeente (de wezenlijke kerk van Christus) door het aannemen van Christus’ plaatsvervangend offer en door de rechtvaardiging uit het geloof, reeds vrijgesteld is van het oordeel. Uit het volgende zal nu blijken, dat deze gemeente niet alleen ontheven is aan eindgericht en laatste oordeel, maar dat zij zelfs een zeer actief aandeel zal krijgen in de voltrekking van de eindgerichten en het daarop volgende messiaanse Rijk. Dit impliceert, dat het Christus-organisme niet meer op aarde zal zijn, als de eindgerichten aanvangen. Expliciet wordt deze implicatie door de openbaring bevestigd. Sprekende over de eindgerichten verbindt Jezus de karakteristiek van een op hem wachtende, biddende en wakende gemeente aan het ontkomen aan het gericht (Mt. 24,32-51). Ook wordt het Christus-lichaam bewaard voor het ‘uur der verzoeking dat over de gehele wereld zal komen’ (Ap. 3,10). De voorstelling dat de gemeente van Christus aan de wereld onttrokken zal worden vóór de eindgerichten over de aarde komen, krijgt nog duidelijker contouren in de Apocalyps, waar immers het Christus-lichaam reeds in de hemel is opgenomen vóór de oordelen over de wereld worden uitgestort.

Na de uiteenzetting van de gestalten en karakteristieken van de christelijke kerk door alle eeuwen van haar bestaan, vertegenwoordigd in de zeven gemeenten van Klein Azië (Ap. 1,4-20; 2; 3,1-22), wordt Johannes uitgenodigd óp te klimmen naar de hemel. In dit visioen wordt hem getoond wat er ‘ná dezen‘ (na de vorming en afsluiting van de gemeente) geschieden moet. Eerst wordt hem de situatie in de hemel getoond, waar tronen geplaatst worden, bezet door Christus én zijn gemeente (Ap. 4,1-4; 5,9-10 verg. Ap. 1,6; 1 Kron. 24; Ap. 3,5). De ‘bliksems, stemmen en donderslagen’ duiden in het visioen op de gerichtsfunctie van deze tronen en het plaatsen van deze tronen duidt op het treffen van voor bereidingen tot het gericht. Nu het Christus-lichaam voltooid is en in de hemel aanwezig, kunnen de eindgerichten beginnen. Het aandeel van het Christus-organisme in de eindgerichten stemt ook geheel overeen met de uitspraken, dat de heiligen (de afgezonderden van Christus’ gemeente) de wereld zullen oordelen (Ap. 2,26-27; 1 Kor. 6,2) en zij in het culminatiepunt van het gericht — de wederkomst van Christus — deze zullen vergezellen (Jud. 14 en 15; Zach. 14,5; 2 Tim. 2,12; Ap. 19,14; 20:4).

Dit alles veronderstelt een opname van de gemeente van Christus vóór de eindgerichten en vóór Christus’ manifeste wederkomst. Allen die thans mét Christus verborgen zijn in God — het presente Koninkrijk Gods in de onkenbare gemeente van Christus — zullen bij Christus’ wederkomst in heerlijkheid mét hem verschijnen (Kol. 3,3-4; 1 Thess. 3,13; Rom. 6,4,5; 8,19). Deze opname van het Christus-lichaam, die de eindgerichten voorafgaat, is niet slechts een conclusie die uit het voorgaande patroon van voorstellingen wordt afgeleid. Dit gebeuren is ook expliciet in de openbaring van de Bijbel opgenomen. Het is de z.g. ‘uit-opstanding‘, de opstanding van ‘tussen de doden én de levenden uit’, de transmutatie of metamorfose van de gelovigen in Christus ‘in een punt des tijds’. Wanneer het getal der gemeente ‘vol’ is, het Christus-lichaam volgroeid, wordt dit organisme, zowel de levenden als de in Christus gestorvenen, door één machtsdaad van Christus uit de wereld gelicht en met hem verenigd. Deze vereniging voltrekt zich in de aardse atmosfeer of in de nog verder gelegen wereldruimte en houdt tevens de verandering van lichamelijkheid in, die noodzakelijk is om tot het wezen en de onverderfelijkheid van de volkomen mens te komen (1 Kor. 15,42-54; 1 Thess. 4,16-17). Dit ultra-reële gebeuren (waarop bij de bespreken van de opstanding nader werd ingegaan) is op zichzelf niet zintuigelijk waarneembaar voor de mensheid, maar vanzelfsprekend zeer schokkend in zijn gevolgen!

Hier komen wij tot het eerste, onmiskenbare teken van de aanvang der eindgerichten, want de opname van de levenden leden van het Christus-organisme heeft een plotselinge en onverklaarbare verdwijning van mensen over de gehele wereld tengevolge.

Hoe onvoorzien dit gebeuren zal zijn, valt af te leiden uit Jezus’ eigen woorden. De opname van de voltooide gemeente geschiedt niet tijdens de apocalyptische catastrofen die over de wereld zullen komen, maar dit gebeuren leidt deze eindgerichten in. Naar menselijke maatstaf zal de opname geschieden in een tijd waarin alles zijn normale gang gaat, zoals in de dagen voor de zondvloed, waarin de mensen voortgingen met eten en drinken en huwen, tot op de dag dat Noach de ark binnenging (1 Kor. 15,42-54; 1 Thess. 4,16-17). De mensen vermoeden niets van het dreigend gevaar, toen die ‘oude dwaas’ jaar in jaar uit aan zijn ark bouwde, tot op het moment dat hij zich in veiligheid bracht met zijn gezin, en de wolken zich plotseling dreigend samentrokken om zich in een allesvernietigende vloed te ontlasten. De ark is hier kennelijk een type van de geborgenheid waarin de gemeente van Christus wordt opgenomen vóór het gericht los barst.

Terwijl de ark gebouwd wordt, terwijl het Christus-lichaam wordt gevormd, gaat de wereld ongestoord zijn gang, in toenemende mate verdorven, en spottend met hen die wéten van het komende gericht en die zich gereed houden om in de ‘ark’ te worden opgenomen. Wanneer de mensen in ‘hun gewone doen’ zijn en zij in de illusie zullen verkeren, dat er ‘vrede is en geen gevaar’, ‘zal een haastig verderf hen overkomen’ (1 Thess. 5,3).

Jezus wijst er op, hoe er bij de opname van zijn gemeente een selectie zal plaats hebben. Twee zullen op de akker zijn en één wordt meegenomen, de ander achtergelaten. Twee vrouwen zullen aan het malen zijn, de een wordt meegenomen en de ander achtergelaten (Mt. 24,40-42).

Deze plotselinge verdwijningen onder de levenden kunnen natuurlijk niet onopgemerkt zijn of blijven. Niet alleen zullen mensen plotseling vermist zijn, maar de verdwijning zal zich ook onder het oog van hen die achterblijven voltrekken. Degenen die opgenomen worden zullen bezig zijn machines te bedienen, in bespreking en vergaderingen zijn, op straat lopen, in een winkel staan of slapen en plotseling, in een ondeelbaar ogenblik, verdwenen zijn. Met verbijstering zullen de achtergeblevenen naar de open plek, de lege stoel, het verlaten bed staren, waar zoëven nog een mens was. De wereldomvattende omvang van dit gebeuren, het verdriet over de verdwijning van geliefden, de banden die overal verscheurd zijn en bovendien het onverklaarbare, houdt op zichzelf reeds een verschrikkelijk gericht in, dat algemene ontzetting en grote angst teweeg zal brengen. Hoe ‘miraculeus’ deze massale verdwijning ook zal schijnen, men zal gedwongen zijn het feit te aanvaarden.

Het laat zich aanzien, dat zich onder de velen die achterblijven talrijke mensen bevinden die de profetie van de plotselinge opname van de gemeente kénnen en dán de onverklaarbare verdwijning van mensen zullen herkennen als de vervulling van deze belofte. Hierdoor zullen hun ogen opengaan voor het feit, dat zij níet tot deze ‘eerstelingen-oogst’ behoren en dat zij, ook al zijn zij christendom-aanhangers, mét de nog onkundige mensheid die achtergebleven is, de verschrikking van de eindgerichten tegemoet moeten zien. Een deel van hen zal de ontzetting over dit feit overwinnen en niet blijven steken in angst en ressentiment. Zij zullen de eigen schuld onderkennen en tot radicale bekering komen. Hoewel de kroon van de eerstelingen gemeente niet meer voor hen weggelegd is, ofschoon zij niet meer tot de hoogste heerlijkheid in de absolute eenheid met Christus en zijn allesomvattende heerschappij kunnen komen, is ook voor hen de weg tot het universele hemelrijk nog niet afgesneden. Door het martelaarschap van de Grote Verdrukking (Ap. 7,14; 13,7; 20,4) heen kunnen zij nog tot het hemels leven komen en het zal hun vurigst verlangen en hun heiligste plicht zijn de waarheid en de werkelijkheid van Christus’ komst en oordeel aan de mensheid te verkondigen. Met het feit van de plotselinge en onverklaarbare verdwijning van een deel der mensheid in handen, zullen zij velen kunnen overtuigen van de verblindheid waarin zij altijd geleefd hebben, en van de waarheid van de openbaring. Onder de druk der volgende gerichten en het vreselijk lijden dat allengs onder het luciferische regiem van de tijdens de gerichten optredende antichrist zal ontstaan, zullen velen aan de nieuwe verkondiging gehoor geven, waaronder ook een deel van het Joodse volk, dat dán in Jezus de Messias zal gaan herkennen.

Het getuigenis van deze nieuwe categorie van gelovigen zal spoedig overstemd worden door de meest vernuftige ‘wetenschappelijke’ en pseudo-wetenschappelijke verklaringen van het gebeuren! Het onverdragelijke vermoeden, dat de Christus tóch een levende realiteit is en het gehele als mythologie en projectie beschouwde complex van bovennormale voorstellingen tóch waarheid, het besef dat mét de aanvaarding van deze waarheid de eindgerichten tegemoet moeten worden gezien en daarmee het einde van de ‘gelukstaat’ waar de mensheid dán juist aan ‘toe’ is, zal worden onderdrukt door gezaghebbende en geruststellende verklaringen van de meest uiteenlopende aard. Naar de aard van deze verklaringen kunnen wij slechts gissen, maar het is waarschijnlijk dat zij op het vlak van de fysische en mathematische speculatie liggen. Naast theorieën over incidentele vervorming of doorbraak van het tijd-ruimte-continuüm zal ook de mogelijkheid van kosmische invloeden of het ingrijpen van buitenaardse intelligenties naar voren worden gebracht, een thema waarop bij de beschouwingen over de antichrist nader wordt ingegaan.

Andere herkenningspunten van de eindgerichten schuilen in hun andersoortigheid en vreemdheid ten opzichte van alle andere, vroegere catastrofen, door hun omvang en door hun intensiteit. Zelfs de ernstigste plagen die de mensheid getroffen hebben, lieten de planeet als zodanig onberoerd en decimeerden weliswaar grote aantallen mensen, maar toch nooit in de orde van grootte van een derde deel der mensheid (Ap. 9,18), als hier voorzegd. Tijdens de culminatie der eindgerichten zal echter ook de planeet als zodanig getroffen worden (Ap. 8,7-11 verg. Jes. 24,19). Het ‘terugwijken van de hemel als een boekrol, die wordt opgerold’ wijst op een ramp van kosmische proporties (Ap. 6,14; Jes. 34,4). Vreemd aan alle ervaring is ook een massale aanval van onderaardse wezens na opening van de aardkost door een vallend hemellichaam (Ap. 9,1-12) en de verschijning van luciferische machten op aarde, die extreem bewapend, een derde deel van de reeds sterk gedecimeerde mensheid zullen doden (Ap. 9,13-19).

Dit zullen de objectief duidelijke kentekenen zijn van de eindgerichten, daar zij niet te herleiden zijn tot menselijke activiteiten! Wat de kenbaarheid betreft, moeten deze eindgerichten onderscheiden worden van de eindgerichten die de mensheid zélf voltrekt! Deze gerichten zijn niet minder verschrikkelijk in omvang en intensiteit, maar zij zullen niet direct kenbaar zijn als opgelegde oordelen, dat zij herleidbaar zijn tot de mens, die ze veroorzaakt heeft. Een belangrijk deel van het eindgericht voltrekt de mensheid aan zichzelf door zich te onderwerpen aan de fascinerende gestalte van de antichrist en het ontketenen van kernoorlogen.

‘De aarde en de werken die daarop zijn zullen worden verwoest vanwege de vrucht hunner handelingen‘ (Micha 7,13). Deze zelfmoord kan ook in het denken buiten de openbaring nauwelijks meer een punt van twijfel zijn voor ieder die geen struisvogelpolitiek bedrijft! De ‘Jom JHVH’ de ‘Dag des Heren’ houdt niet alleen het door zijn ingrijpen voltrokken eindgericht in; de ‘verschrikking van JHVH’ zal volgens de apocalyptische voorstellingen óók over de mensheid komen door de hand van de mens zelf.

Uit: IK BEN DIE IK BEN / Eigentijdse en futuristische begrippen verbonden aan de profetie van de bijbel / pag. 394 – 407 / dhr. Huib Verweij.


The Background to the New Testament / no. 1.

This series of articles is intended to give some idea of the background against which the record of the New Testament should be considered. It is evident that by reading this record with westers eyes, and by viewing the happenings of that day in the light of the present time, much is missed. What must be done is to build up a picture of New Testament days which will throw the writings of that period into focus. To do this it will be necessary to consider the various parties and institutions which flourished at the time.

This will include a look at the scribes and Pharisees, the Sadducees and Herodians, the Zealots and Essenes (although they are not actually mentioned by name in the New Testament) and the Samaritans, who stood halfway between the Jews and the Gentiles. With respect to institutions, the Temple with the Sanhedrin, and the synagogue withs its court of judgement must be reviewed, and to make the picture complete, consideration must be given to the political situation of the day, the influence of Greek ideas upon the Jews, and of Judaism upon the Gentiles, leading as it did to proselytism.

When considering the Jewish parties, the names which come most readily to mind are of course, the Pharisees and Sadducees. There was a third party, however, mentioned by the Jewish historian Josephus together with these two, but it is apparently not referred to in the new New Testament record. This was the Essene party, a monastic sect which has become better known as a result of the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls.

The Essenes

  • “They were an exclusive, ascetic and isolated community, with whose discouragement of marriage and withdrawal from action the Gospels have no sympathy, and to whom our Lord never alluded, unless it be in those passages where he reprobates those who abstain from anointing themselves when they fast, and who hide their candle under a bushel.” (The Life of Christ by Dean Farrar).

The origin of this sect appears between Malachi and Matthew, and like that of the the Pharisees and Sadducees, is buried in obscurity. Three well known writers of the first century A.D. make mention of the Essenes, viz. Pliny, Josephus and Philo.

From these it is known that the Essene community was located on the western shore of the Dead Sea, that its members were bound together more closely than the Pharisees and Sadducees, that they renounced riches, and lived on only the simplest fare, that they cultivated the earth, or concerned themselves only with the peaceful arts, and that they, or at least some of them, abstained from marriage.

The information that has come down through the centuries is not always consistent with itself, and is fragmentary in nature, which is not really surprising since the sect must only have been seen by historians from the outside, and also as time went on and other communities of the sect appeared in the towns of Judea, it must be expected that different views would be led.

According to Josephus, although they occupied no one city, yet they settled in large numbers in every town. They seem to have preferred the smaller towns and villages, and did not engage in commerce or navigation. Their occupations included farmers, shepherds, cowherds, beekeepers, etc., and they would have nothing to do with the instruments of war. They were very much a community, and their whole day appears to have been subjected to rigid discipline. Like the early church of Acts they had “all things common”, and new members surrendered their property to the order, and in return received all their needs.

It has been this latter point, together with certain aspects of their teaching, which has caused some to identify them with the early Christians. Some suggest that John the Baptist, and even the Lord himself, were members of the sect. The obscure period in the life of the Lord between the ages of twelve and thirty, lends itself to this idea, and the silence of the Scriptures as to what He did during this period, is accounted for by assuming Him to have been within an Essene community.

But any who have really appreciated the teaching of the Lord in the Gospels, will known that it is on a very much higher plan than any of “the commandments and doctrines of men”. His words were confessedly not his own, but neither were they derived from any human source, for they were the words of his Father in Heaven (John 17:8). They identification of the Lord with the Essene community must be rejected by all who love the Scriptures, and recognize them as the inspired Word of God.

The Scribes and Pharisees

The scribes and Pharisees are mentioned in association with each other above twenty times in Scripture, and they were both active in opposing the ministry of the Lord. The relationship between the two is not easy to trace, although it appears that the sympathies of the scribes were with the Pharisees, even if it be not true to say that the scribes belonged to the Pharisaic party. There is no evidence that scribes were ever Sadducees, although Matthew 22:34,35 has sometimes been urged for this view.

  • “But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question.”

The words “of them” have been referred to the Sadducees, but it surely makes better sense te refer them to the Pharisees who were here taking over the word battle against the Lord, after the silencing of the Sadducees. The “lawyer”, it is true, was almost certainly a scribe, as will be shown later, but it is quite wrong to imagine he was a lawyer in the narrow sense of holding only the Law of Moses to be the Divine rule, thus identifying him with the Sadducees.

The scribes also appear in sympathy with the Pharisees in Acts 23:9:

  • “And there arose a great cry, and the scribes that were of the Phariseespart, arose.”

The scribes are frequently referred to as acting alone, or mentioned in association with the chief priests, and they formed part of the Sanhedrin, the supreme court in Israel. (See Acts 23:1-10, where the word “council”, verses 1 and 6, is the Greek sunedrion, Sanhedrin.) They must, therefore, be seen as an authoritative body, exercising great influence over the affairs of Israel from a religious standpoint. From this point of view they would appear to be a separate section of the community from the Pharisees, although they may only have been the more learned section of the Pharisaic party. / See: The Companion Bible /

There being no reference to the Pharisaic party in the Old Testament, together with their appearance without explanation on the opening pages of the New, leads to the obvious conclusion that they originated in the Malachi-Matthew period, during which God gave no inspired record. There is therefore a certain amount of obscurity about their origin.

The word Pharisee, Pharisaios, is evidently related to aphorizo, “separate”, which is twice used by the Apostle Paul of himself:

  • “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called . . . separated, unto the Gospel of God.”
  • “God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me” (Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:15).

The connection between these words is even more significant when it is remembered that the Apostle was “as touching the law, a Pharisee” (Phil. 3:5). He was separated one, both before and after his conversion on the Damascus road.

The history of the People of Israel was likewise one of separation:

  • “I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people. And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the Lord am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine” (Lev. 20:24,26).

Israel were given special laws by the Lord, laws which governed their everyday lives, and extended even to what they could or could not eat. They were God’s inheritance, and as such, were to be separate from other peoples. They were being prepared to fulfill there place in God’s purpose for the earth, to be a channel through which the knowledge of the Lord might reach the ends of the world. Hence they were to be holy, separate, sanctified, meet for his use.

But they failed. Consistent failure brought God’s judgement upon them, until finally, they went into the captivity of Babylon, and the separation which had been enjoined upon them, became impossible in many respects. After the captivity, many of Israel returned to their land, but it was a land which, from now on, was to be dominated by Gentile Powers. It passed in succession from Babylon to Medo-Persia, to Greece, until, at the time of the Lord’s coming, it was dominated by Rome. No people can be so ruled without losing some of their individuality, and Israel were no exception. Greek thought and culture were a powerful influence which many could not resist, and a Hellenizing spirit began to prevail. The idea of Israel as a separate nation, with separate laws, began to wane.

The origin of the Pharisaic party must, in all probability, be assigned to this time, arising as a reaction to the spirit of Grecianism, and seeking to defend the national position of Israel. Hence the Pharisees were the “separate ones”, separated from the rationalism of the day, and defending zealously the law and heritage of Israel. The Imperial Bible Dictionary is much to the point:

  • “There were two lines of important influence at work, the one tending to narrow the spirit of Judaism, the other to rationalise it. This latter influence again could only have the effect of intensifying the former, and lead all who would remain faithful to Israel’s inheritance from the past and the hope of the future, to a still sterner adherence to the law. It was at this time then, that the party of the Pharisees began, in all probability, to be formed.”

The rationalizing spirit against which Pharisaism revolted, was personified during the Lord’s earthly ministry, in the Sadducees and Herodians, the priestly ruling class who had the chief share in the crucifixion.

The basic ideals of Pharisaism may be considered to have been good at the outset, defending the position of Israel from the intrusion of foreign ideas but the means resorted to actually undermined what the sought to defend. The Law was hedged about with oral traditions intended to protect it and interpret it for daily life, but these traditions had become, at the time of the Lord’s earthly ministry, as important as the Law itself. In fact in some cases, the traditions transgressed the Law, or made it of no effect.

  • “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? . . . ye made the commanded of God of none effect by your tradition” (Matt. 15:3,6).

The Lord went on to show that Pharisaism (in practice) was condemned by Isaiah during his days, and it seems that it had very nearly always existed in germ throughout the long period of Israel’s history. There can always be found those who worship either the letter of the Law to the exclusion of the spirit, or add their own traditions which ostensibly protect the Law, but in practice supersede it. Such was true of the days of Isaiah and of the Lord.

  • “Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto Me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me. But in vain they do worship Me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matt. 15:7-9).

The origin of the Pharisaic party cannot be pinned down accurately to any date, but the spirit which has come to be recognized as associated with Pharisaism may be traced far back into the history of Israel. Whilst the voices of the prophets continued to be raised against the empty religion which this spirit produced, no party was formed which could be termed “The Pharisees”, but when the last of the Old Testament prophets had ceased his words to Israel, Pharisaism with its narrow Judaistic leanings, and reacting against the intrusion of Grecianism, formed itself into a solid body and became the most important religious force in Israel. How they subsequently developed is now to be considered.

The Pharisees at the time of Christ

During the Lord’s earthly ministry the Pharisees exercised great power and influence over the mass of common people, and this in spite of the wealth, rank and connections of their bitter opponents, the Sadducees. In all religious matters the people sided with the Pharisees, so much so that even the Sadducees themselves had to give way against their real views. The Sadducees exercised worldly influence, but the Pharisees dominated the religious scene. The Lord Himself recognized their position:

  • “Then spake Jesus, saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:1-3).

The scribes and Pharisees sat in the position of authority, Moses’ seat. They were the religious leaders of the people, the shepherds of Israel; unfortunately, many of them fitted only too well the words of the Lord, “blind leaders of the blind” (Matt. 15:14), “an hireling . . . who careth not for the sheep” (John. 10:12,13).

It seems strange then, that the Lord should encourage the multitude to “observe and do” that which these Pharisees bade them, especially in the light of what he had already taught his disciples:

  • “Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees . . . the doctrine of the Pharisees” (Matt. 16:6-12).

The solution to the problem is found by recognizing, with The Companion Bible, that the words “observe and do” are in the indicative mood, not the imperative as translated in the Authorized Version. (There is no way of determining whether the mood is indicative or imperative here, except by observing the context). So that although the Lord recognized that the Pharisees sat in the place of authority, and that the multitude observed and did that which they taught, he did not himself bid them so to do. A revised translation would be. (The Companion Bible /

  • “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: all therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that ye observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not” (Matt. 23:1-3).

It must not be imagined, however, that all of the teaching of Pharisaism or all of their practice was to be condemned. Error is a more effective leaven when mixed with an element of truth. Nor indeed must it be thought that all Pharisees were evil men. It is reasonable to suppose that there were some, apart from those mentioned in the New Testament, who were good men, sincere in their convictions and seeking to serve God honestly according to their light.

But Pharisaism as a system was to be condemned. It was occupied with things infinitely small, whilst the weightier matters of the Law were neglected (Matt. 23:23). Its adherents gave alms liberally, but with great ostentation (Matt. 6:2), and their fasting and long prayers were made to the same end (Matt. 6:5,16; 23:14). Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were denounced by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:7), and the Lord (Matt. 16:1-4), and a whole chapter (Matt. 23) is devoted to an exposure and denouncement of the position of the scribes and Pharisees, who were largely responsible for the reception afforded the Lord at his first coming. The party, which by its teaching and influence over the people could have prepared them for the advent of their Messiah, when He did come, opposed and rejected all that He stood for until they had filled up the measure of their fathers, who had persecuted and slain the prophets of old (Matt. 23:29-36). Such was the development of this party.

Before giving considerations of the scribes, it may be helpful to observe the basic differences between the Pharisees and Sadducees. The following table does not pretend to be exact, but to give some idea of the parties as they stood in relation to each other and the people.

Pharisees / Religious. Ritualistic. Rabbinic. Synagogue. Associated with the common people, whom they influenced. Religious influence.

Sadducees / Political. Rationalistic. Priestly. Temple. Associated with the nobility, from whom they were drawn. Worldly influence.

In addition to the above it may be noted that the Pharisees and Essenes were largely positive sects (the Pharisees essentially practical, the Essenes tending to mysticism), whilst the Sadducees’ position was mainly based upon denials (no resurrection, no angels) and was thus inclined to be negative. These differences will be qualified and explained more fully in subsequent articles, when the position during the early part of the first century should become clearer.

By Brian E. Sherring – THE BEREAN EXPOSITOR Vols. XLV & XLVI – London


The Background to the New Testament / no. 2.

The Scribes

The earliest occurrence in the Authorized Version of the word “scribe” is 2 Samuel 8:17, although the Hebrew saphar as a participle noun occurs before this in Judges 5:14, translated “the writer”. According to The Companion Bible, this word, which as a verb means “to count” or “to number”, gives us the word Sopherim. The Sopherim were the scribes of Ezra’s day, his successors in fact, for Ezra is described as:

  • “A ready scribe (saphar) in the law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given . . . a scribe of the words of the commandments of the Lord, and of his statutes to Israel . . . a scribe of the law of the God of heaven” (Ezra 7:6,11,12).

Closely related to saphar “to count”, is the Hebrew sepher “book” or “letter”. Dean Farrar states that this latter word gives the word Sopherim, “scribes”, and that the name means “scripturalists”, those who explained and copied the Law. Whichever be the correct derivation, the scribes appear to date as a distinct body from the period of Ezra, a time of restoration and reformation when the text of the Hebrew Bible began to be set in order (See Companion Bible, Appendix 30).

The revision of the text having been completed, a work which lasted over a hundred years, the Sopherim, scribes proper, ceased to exist as such and were succeeded by the “teachers of the Law”, nomikoi and nomodidaskaloi,the scribes of the New Testament.

“Scribe”, grammateus, derives from the Greek gramma, “letter”, and the duties of a New Testament scribe included the reading, copying, explaining and protecting of the Law. They performed their functions in schools, synagogues, the outer courts of the Temple (Luk. 2:46), and even in the streets.

Their method of teaching was in sharp contrast to that of the Lord Himself (Matt. 7:28,29):

  • “And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine: For He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.

Dean Farrar writes:

  • “Secondhandness, the slavish dependence on precedent and authority, is the most remarkable characteristic of Rabbinical teaching. It very rarely rises above the level of a commentary, at once timid and fantastic.”

Rabbi Eliezer actually made it his boast that he had originated nothing. The style of the scribes was, “Rabbi A says on the authority of Rabbi B”, whereas the manner of Christ’s teaching was, “I say unto you”; no wonder the common people were astonished at his doctrine. The scribes prided themselves on their accuracy to the letter of the Law (Acts 22:3, J.N. Darby translation):

  • “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but through up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, educated according to the exactness of the law of our fathers.”

Unfortunately, in their slavishness to the letter of the Law, they missed the spirit. (See Rom. 2:17-29).

The scribes and the Pharisees loved to be called “Rabbi”, but the Lord bade His disciples not to accept the title (Matt. 23:1-8). Both John the Baptist and the Lord Himself were addressed with the title “Rabbi”, and it was as Rabbis that they taught prayers to their disciples (Luk. 11:1). The Lord is never actually called a scribe in the New Testament, yet it was testified of him, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned”, and, “Never man spake like this man”. Christ was undoubtedly the greatest Rabbi that ever lived.

It must not be imagined, however, that Rabbinic teaching was wholly devoid of moral significance and wisdom. There is the example of Gamaliel in Acts 5:33-40, a man much honoured by the people, whose wise counsel saved the necks of the Apostles. He is called in verse 34, “a doctor of the law”, and was undoubtedly a scribe. His action must not, however, be misinterpreted as though he himself was sympathetic with the Apostles’ cause, for it was not so very much later on that one of his pupils, Saul of Tarsus, came out from under his teaching, “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord” (Acts 9:1).

It has so far been assumed that the scribes were identical with the lawyers and doctors, or teachers of the Law mentioned in the New Testament. This assumption must now be qualified. The German theologian, H.A. Meyer, says:

  • “The term nomikos, ‘lawyer’, is more specific and more strictly Greek. Grammateus, ‘scribe’, on the other hand, is more general and more Hebrew in its character.”

This would appear to be in accord with Scripture. A scribe was sometimes designated from his most important function, that of teaching the Law. The word “scribe” is therefore an inclusive word, embracing lawyers, doctors and teachers of the Law. In conformation of this, compare Luke 5:17 with Luke 5:12, and compare the whole context with Matthew 9:2-8.

Throughout the whole life of the Saviour, the scribes watched Him like hawks, ready to pounce on any action of His contrary to their teaching. They accused the Lord’s disciples of transgressing the tradition of the elders (Matt. 15:2). They judged that when He cast out demons He did it by Beelzebub, the prince of the demons (Mark 3:22). When the Lord said to the sick of the palsy, “Son, thy sins be forgiven thee”, they charged Him in their hearts with blasphemy (Mark 2:1-12). Together with the Pharisees, they brought to Him a woman taken in adultery, “tempting Him, that they might have to accuse Him” (John 8:3,6). In council with the chief priests “they sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people was astonished at His doctrine” (Mark 11:18), and when He stood before Herod, they joined with those that accused Him (Luke 23:10).

Their familiarity with the Old Testament should have caused them to realize that this Jesus was He that was to come, the Messiah, the Hope of Israel. But religion, as is so often the case, blinded their eyes to the truth. They strained out gnats and swallowed camels (Matt. 23:24). For all their outward sanctity, within they were full of hypocrisy and iniquity (Matt. 23:27,28). (The whole of Matthew 23 should be read for a complete picture of these religious leaders, “blind leaders of the blind”). “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!”

The Sadducees

A table has already been presented showing the basis differences between this party and the Pharisees. Whereas the Pharisees were religious, the Sadducees were more political. The Pharisees were ritualistic; the Sadducees rationalistic. The Pharisees were associated with the common people and exerted a religious influence over them, whereas the Sadducees, on the other hand, were associated with the nobility, and their influence was of a worldly nature. The sphere of activity of the Pharisees was the synagogue, that of the Sadducees, the Temple.

The origin of the Sadducean party, like that of the Essenes and Pharisees, cannot be traced with accuracy, but it is likely that they arose at the same time, and in opposition to, the Pharisaic party. As the Pharisees tended to narrow the spirit of Judaism, so the Sadducees were inclined to rationalize it. When a spirit of Grecianism began to prevail in Israel, the Sadducean party was inclined to accept it, and to compromise the economy of Israel in order to be at peace with the ruling power. This explains why most of them were drawn from the nobility, and why, at the time of the Lord, some of them were associated with the family of Herod. Indeed, it would appear that the Herodians were a branch of the Sadducees. (Cp. Matt. 16:6, Mark 8:15).

The name “Sadducee”, according to Rabbinical tradition, derives from one Zadoc, thought to be the founder of this party, and who lived about the middle of the third century B.C. Another view is that the name “Sadducee” is derived from the Hebrew tsadeq, “righteous”, but very little weight can be attached to either of these views.

It is a matter of some doubt as to whether or not they accepted the whole of the Old Testament, or just the Law of Moses. Matthew 22:23-33 has sometimes been urged in favour of the latter view, for the Lord there demonstrates the truth of the resurrection, which the Sadducees denied, from the Law proper, quoting from Exodus, rather than from passages in other parts of the Old Testament which bear more clearly upon the point; for example, Daniel 12:2. The inference drawn from this is that the Lord recognized that the Sadducees acknowledged only the Pentateuch, so that Exodus would be accepted and Daniel rejected. But it should be noted before accepting this as proof, that the Sadducees had themselves referred to the authority of Moses in verse 24, and it was fitting that they should be reproved from the same section of the Old Testament which they themselves had quoted. It should be remembered also in connexion with this, that the orthodox Israelite, in any case, exalted the Law above the other Scriptures, and so the Lord’s reference would carry more weight with them.

An argument in favour of the Sadducees’ acceptance of the whole of the Old Testament, is that it would appear to be unlikely that they would have been admitted to the Sanhedrin unless this was so. True, they opposed the oral traditions of the Pharisees, but not the Written Word itself.

As a party which took this position, and appear to have defended the Law against such intrusions, they could have provided a useful balancing factor in Israel, but their motives either were, or became political, or became political, to the compromise of the truth whenever necessary. They gained in wealth, rank, connections and authority, and became the party of the nobility, and as corrupted as the Pharisees themselves. Together with the Pharisees they were condemned by John the Baptist (Matt. 3:7), and the Lord Himself (Matt. 16:1), and the Disciples were warned against their doctrine (Matt. 16:6).

Their rationalized teaching can be felt from such passage as Acts 23:8:

  • “For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, neither angel, nor spirit: but the Pharisees confess both.”

The rationalist of today does not accept such things, which are reckoned to be beyond the sphere of human experience.

Josephus, the Jewish historian, says of the Sadducees that “they take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing”. He further testifies as to the conduct of this party that “the behaviour of the Sadducees one towards another is in some degree wild, and their conversation with those that are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them” (Wars of the Jews, Book 2, chapter 8). It should be remembered before accepting this too readily, that Josephus himself was a Pharisee.

It is interesting to note in line with the Sadducean denial of the resurrection, that whereas the Pharisees were more active during the Lord’s ministry, the Sadducees became so after the resurrection of the Lord.

  • “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (Acts 4:1,2).

In Acts 5:17, they were filled with indignation at the popularity of the Apostles, and again laid hands on them, putting them into the prison.

During the lifetime of Christ, they could probably afford to ignore what they considered to be the religious views of a zealot. But after His triumphal entry into Jerusalem when the multitudes cried, “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord”, and His action in the Temple when He cast out all them that sold and bought, and overthrew the tables of the money changers, saying, “My house shall be called the House of Prayer, but ye have made it a den of thieves”, the Sadducees would be forced to recognize the political implications of these things, and in particularly the claim already being made that here was the King of the Jews (Matt. 21:1-15).

The Sadducees appear to have had the chief share in the crucifixion, as Dean Farrar notes:

  • “It is most remarkable and, so far as I know, has scarcely ever been noticed that, although the Pharisees undoubtedly were actuated by a burning hatred against Jesus, and were even so eager for His death as to be willing to co-operate with the aristocratic and priestly Sadducees, from whom they were ordinarily separated by every kind of difference, political, social and religious, yet, from the moment that the plot for His arrest and condemnation had been matured, the Pharisees took so little part in it that their name is not once prominently mentioned in any event connected with the arrest, the trial, the derisions and the crucifixion. The only exception to this is John 18:3. The Pharisees as such disappear; the chief priests and elders take their place” (The Life of Christ).

It was only natural then, that when it was claimed of this One Whom they had put to death, that He was risen from the dead, and when the Apostles had filled Jerusalem with their doctrine (Acts 5:28), the Sadducees should again be the chief antagonists.

After the destruction of Jerusalem, the Sadducees as such seem to have disappeared, but the Pharisees long remained to influence the teachings of the early Christians.

By Brian E. Sherring – THE BEREAN EXPOSITOR – Vols. XLV & XLVI – London


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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 20:22
Nov 172019

Purpose, Promise and Performance …

The present Study arose out of an attempt to help a Bible Study leader to show how rational was the principle of “Right Division”, by asking at the outset of any Bible study the questions Which? Who? When? and Where? but found that when the question “Why?” was put, a different category involving the question of Purpose was introduced. This is a matter for the most careful research, much exploration and illumination, and it is not at all unlikely that when we reach the last page we shall not have arrived at a complete answer. However, the Scriptures have been written as a revelation of all that may be known or should be known of the Divine Purpose. Providing we realize our limitations and avoid the attitude against which the Apostle warned the Colossians of “intruding into those things which he hath not seen”, we cannot but be pleasing to our gracious God if we manifest a desire to understand something of His wonderful purposes, even thought we limit our investigations to that phase which belongs to the dispensation of the Mystery.

Let us open our study with a salutary reminder or two. Zophar, one of Job’s three friends, said:

  • “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection?” (Job 11:7).

We quote next the A.V. [Authorized Version] and Moffatt’s translation of Ecclesiastes 3:11, because of its ambiguity in most English versions:

  • “He hath made everything beautiful in His time: also He hath set the world (Heb. olam ‘age’) in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end” (Eccles. 3:11).
  • “He assigned each to its proper time, but for the mind of man He has appointed mystery (olam Heb. a period of undefined limits, an age), that man may never fathom God’s own purpose from beginning to end” (Eccles. 3:11 Moffatt).

The Scriptures themselves lead us to expect to be baffled, especially regarding the beginning and the end of God’s purpose, but we remind ourselves with much comfort and assurance that Christ Himself is “the Beginning and the Ending”, and to know Him will provide keys to unlock the hidden purpose of God. The Apostle also warned the Corinthians saying:

  • “For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:11).
  • “For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away . . . for now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face.”

Or as Moffatt renders the passage:

  • “At present we only see the baffling reflections in a mirror, but then it will be face to face” (1 Cor. 13:9-12).

The writer of this article has no fuller revelation given to him than to others, of the purpose of God which is being wrought out through the ages; he stands exactly where the reader himself stands. He has opened the Bible, and the opportunity to “search the Scriptures” must ever remind us of the limitation which those self-same Scriptures set upon our search.

Purpose in the Old Testament

The A.V. uses the English word “purpose” to translate eight Hebrew words, and two Greek words. The verb “to purpose” is translated by seven Hebrew and six Greek words. These original words mean a word, device, delight, thought, work, counsel, desire, foundation and intention. Whether we can hope to solve the problems that are associated with the outworking of this purpose or not, it is a comfort to realize that the Scriptures gives us every assurance that, however inexplicable certain happenings and developments may appear to us, all are known, all are under control, and when the time is ripe we “shall know, even as we are known”. With this limiting proviso in mind, we can now freely meditate on all that is written, and refrain from intruding where no explanation has been given.

First let Ecclesiastes speak:

  • “To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Eccles. 3:1).

This is salutary. To know or to reveal any part of God’s purpose before the appointed time could be disastrous and play into the hands of the Great Enemy. This explains the evasive answer to the Apostles’ question, recorded in Acts 1:6. It may be well to remind ourselves that the Serpent did not tempt Adam and Eve to commit some brutal or degrading sin, but to “be as God, knowing good and evil”, which though forbidden while man was in his infancy, is the very mark of those who are “perfect” or “full grown” (Hebr. 5:14). Moses desired to see the glory of God, but was told that he could only look upon His “back parts”; the time had not then come for the fuller revelations of God’s purpose that are found in the New Testament. Even there we are not given a complete revelation “from the beginning unto the end”, but are pointed on to a future day of complete revelation.

The word translated “seasons” in Ecclesiastes means an appointed and appropriate time, and is expanded in the words of Habakkuk, and although it is not the same Hebrew word that is there translated, it is an inspired commentary and a word to guide and assure when we feel baffled. We subdivide the passage so that each portion may speak clearly.

  1. “The vision is yet for an appointed time,
  2. but at the end it shall speak, and not lie:
  3. though it tarry, wait for it:
  4. because it will surely come, it will not tarry” (Hab. 2:3).

There can be no altering or hurrying the fulfillment of God’s purposes; our attitude is to rest assured that any appearance of delay is only because of our own ignorance and limitation. The attitude of heart that God looks for in the perplexed believer is that :

5. “The just shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:4).

which is an exceedingly practical as well as a basic truth. Ecclesiastes speaks twice more about the purpose of God and its relation to time:

  • “I said in mine heart, God shall judge the righteous and the wicked: for there is a time there for every purpose and for every work” (Eccles. 3:17).
  • “Because to every purpose there is a time and judgment, therefore the misery of man is great upon him” (Eccles. 8:6).

The context of these passages needs examining, but for the moment we are listening the different references to the Purpose of God in order that all that is said may be before us as we go into details. Another thing to remember is that the purposes of God are the results of “counsel”. They are not the arbitrary dictates of a despot.

  • “Without counsel purposes are disappointed” (Prov. 15:22).
  • “Every purpose is established by counsel” (Prov. 20:18).

Here the essential feature is “counsel”. A Specific purpose occupies Jeremiah’s prophecy, that which deals with the overthrow of Babylon.

  • “Therefore hear ye the counsel of the Lord, that He hath taken against Babylon, and his purposes, that He hath purposed against the land of the Chaldeans . . . At the noise of the taking of Babylon the earth is moved” (Jer. 50:45,46).
  • “Every purpose of the Lord shall be performed against Babylon” (Jer. 51:29).

Here judgment of evil and the certainty of its performance are stressed. This is true also of the Assyrian oppressor:

  • “The Lord of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass, and as I have purposed so shall it stand.”
  • “This is the purpose that is purposed upon the whole earth . . . who shall disannul it? And His hand is stretched out, and who shall turn it back” (Isa. 14:24-27).

Quite apart from what is purposed, we see from these verses that there can be no disannuling of the purposes of God, whether for judgment or for blessing, as Jeremiah and Isaiah declare.

  • “Every purpose . . . shall be performed.” (Jer. 51:29).
  • “Declaring the end from the beginning . . . saying My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure” (Isa. 46:10).

Purpose of the New Testament

  1. Prothesis, something “set before” the mind, a resolution.
  2. Tithemi, the verb to purpose, to set or to place.
  3. Bouleuomai, to wish, to take counsel.
  4. Poieo, To make or to do.
  5. Proaireomai, To choose, to take one before another.

Let us acquaint ourselves with the context and usage of these words in the New Testament, and become more acquainted with their inner meaning.

Prothesis. Four times it is used in connexion with shewbread (Matt. 12:4; Mark 2:26; Luke 6:4 and Heb. 9:2) literally “The bread of setting before”. It is used of Paul’s own purpose and of others, but we are concerned with the purpose of God, so we read “the called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28), which is followed by such terms as predestination. There is the danger of missing the sovereign will of God that lies behind His purpose, for we read in Romans 9:11,12:

  • “For the children, being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of Him that calleth; it was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger.”

The Prison Epistle uses this term three times, and their meaning and place in the overall scheme is too implicit to deal with at this stage. We will give these references, but wait for a fuller exposition, after we have considered the remaining terms that are set out before us:

  • “In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of His Own will (Eph. 1:11).
  • “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph. 3:11).
  • “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling; not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9).

We leave the correction of one or two of these words in the A.V. until later.

Tithemi, which gives us the word Thesis in prothesis just examined, is variously translated appoint, set forth, lay down, ordain, to lay as a foundation, to put, as all enemies under His feet, all of which have a bearing on the question of purpose, to be considered presently.

Poieo. In one passage, namely in Ephesians 3:11, the clause “which He purposed” employs the word usually translated “to make or to do”, which at first reads somewhat strangely when we read of the “eternal purpose which He MADE in Christ Jesus”, but the word has wide significance. Dr. Bullinger’s comment in his Lexicon is:

  • “To make, i.e. to form, produce, to bring about, cause, spoken of any external act as manifested in the production of something tangible and obvious to the senses, and referring to completed action.”

If that is what is purposed in Christ Jesus, how great is our joy and confidence.

It is not our intention to attempt to examine the whole purpose of God as it is unfolded in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, but we do feel some attempt is justified in considering under the three heads the references to Purpose, Promise and Performance that run through the Prison Epistles, and belong so intimately with our high calling and hope. Purpose is written large across Ephesians 1:3-14, and is implied in such words as “chosen”, “predestinate”, “good pleasure of His will”, “His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself”, “Who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will”. Arising out this tremendous emphasis on “purpose” in these opening verses of Ephesians, comes the “seal”, “promise”, “earnest”, “hope” and “inheritance” (Eph. 1:13-18) concluding with that most wonderful characteristic and title of the Church (ecclesia) which is His Body, namely “The fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:22,23).

Purpose, Promise and Performance (No. 2)

In Ephesians 3:11 we read:

  • “According to the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord”.

and to this passage we shall return for closer scrutiny presently. The climax of God’s gracious purpose in Ephesians is found in Ephesians 5:27:

  • “That He might present it to Himself a glorious church (ecclesia), not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Turning to Philippians, we find the stress is laid on the “performance” of the promise made:

  • “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).

Even though the Apostle expresses “confidence”, some doubt has been injected into this verse, suggesting that what had been begun would be discontinued, but the rule of 1 Corinthians 2:13 when applied, shows what the Apostle meant by “begin” and “perform”, for he uses the same two words in 2 Corinthians 8:10-11, where he reminds the Corinthians of what they had “begun” a year ago, that there should be a “performance”. It would make nonsense of his exhortation to teach that Paul told the Corinthians that their willingness a year ago to make a contribution to the poor saints should not now be fulfilled. Later in Philippians, Paul expresses the earnest wish that he may “apprehend that for which he had been apprehended of Christ Jesus”. The change of this “vile body” that it may be fashioned like unto the Saviour’s “glorious body”, is “according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil 3:12,21). Colossians traverses much the same ground as Ephesians, but with different emphasis and different sequence. We read that Paul was made a special minister …

  • “according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill (or complete) the word of God; even the mystery . . .” (Col. 1:25,26).

In 2 Timothy, the Apostle stresses the purpose of grace that is implied in his ministry, saying of God:

  • “Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, Who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel: Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles” (2 Tim. 1:9-11).

Having given this rough survey, we propose a more detailed and careful study of the words and context of “the eternal purpose” of Ephesians 3:11. Before considering the bearing of the context upon this passage, we must draw the reader’s attention to the fact that while “the eternal purpose” has a majestic sound about it, its literal rendering should be “the purpose of the ages”, and this demands some expansion and explanation. In the O.T. the word translated “eternal” or “for ever” is the Hebrew word olam, and if we consider its occurences in Ecclesiastes, translated in the A.V. we shall find it translated “for ever”, “old time”, “world” and “long” in Ecclesiastes 1:4,10; 2:16; 3:11,14; 9:6 and 12:5. Such variety may be charming but can be misleading. Supposing we translated olam in Ecclesiastes consistently, we then have the following most suggestive index to this problematic book.

Olam in Ecclesiastes

A 1:4 The earth abideth to the AGE – The passing generation. B 1:10 Already been in the AGES – Nothing new under the sun. C 2:16 No remembrance to the AGE – Forgotten. D 3:11 The AGE set in the heart of men. C 3:14,15 What God does is to the AGE. It remains. B 9:6 No portion to the AGE – under the sun. A 12:5 Man and the AGE home – The passing generation.

While this analysis of itself may not appear very illuminating, the comparison of passage with passage will bring out into prominence some of the truth sought and taught in Ecclesiastes.

The epistle to the Ephesians is most intimately associated with all we believe and hope for, and so we turn without further comment to the way aion is found and is translated in that most wonderful epistle. First let us note the way the A.V. has rendered this one word, namely world, course, ages, world, eternal, world without end (Eph. 1:21; 2:2; 2:7; 3:9; 3:11; 3:21; 6:12). Here we have this world which had a beginning, but which has no end, the course of this world, and the eternal purpose. If we translate consistently, light and instruction will immediately appear.

Aion in Ephesians

A 1:21 Rulers of this AGE to come. Subject to Christ in resurrection. B 2:2 The AGE of the world. Satanic energy (energo). C 2:7 AGES to come. Divine grace (future). D 3:9 Hid since the AGES — The Mystery (Central Feature). C 3:11 AGES, their purpose. Divine wisdom (now). B 3:21 The generation of the AGE of the AGES. Divine energy (energo). A 6:12 Rulers of darkness of this AGE. Withstood in resurrection power.

This purpose or plan of the ages is vitally linked with the following features, most of which are unique ‘and are not to be found in the ministry of any Biblical writer except Paul’ as the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the Gentiles. We tabulate without attempting to comment or enlarge these unique items:

  1. Paul speaks of himself as the prisoner of Christ Jesus for us Gentiles.
  2. He speaks of a special dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2) that was given him to us-ward.
  3. This involved the making known to him by revelation the Mystery (secret).

Having given some attention to the need of speak of the ages rather than that which lies beyond our grasp, namely eternity, which unlike the ages, can have no beginning or no end, a state, that the human mind cannot grasp and with which the Scriptures are not concerned, we turn to the actual references in the great Prison Epistles that speak of Purpose, Promise and Performance. It is obvious that God had a wondrous purpose when He chose the members of the Church (ecclesia) which is the Body of Christ, before the foundation (or overthrow) of the world, but the actual word “purpose” first occurs in a verbal form in Ephesians 1:9, and in the substantive in verse 11:

  • “In all wisdom and prudence having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself, That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: In Whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him Who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will.”

What words are here! Before we dare to submit these verses to our poor inspection, should we not, in figure, “take off our shoes from off our feet”? The place whereon we stand is indeed “holy ground”.

Let us consider the wording of Ephesians 1:8. As the verse stands in the Authorized Version, it seems to contain a contradiction. How can anyone “abound” or “over-flow” with “prudence”? How can anyone “abound”, when the original means to overflow as well as be discreet, frugal, economical and provident at the same time? The contradiction exists only in the punctuation of the English translation.

  1. Redemption. This is made to abound with prodigal riches.
  2. Instruction. This is given little by little as we are able to bear it.

Let us read the passage once again, but put a full stop in the middle of verse 8, thus:

  • “In Whom we have redemption trough His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace wherein He hath ABOUNDED toward us. In all WISDOM and PRUDENCE having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself.”

This mystery, good pleasure and purpose, had a special dispensation in view:

  • “With a view to (eis R.V. “unto”) a dispensation of the fulness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him”.

The word “dispensation”, following the Revised Text, is used by the Apostle Paul four times:


A A dispensation of the fulness of times (the mystery of his will) . . . purposed in Himself (Eph. 1:10). B The dispensation of the grace of God given me to you (Eph. 3:2). A The dispensation of the mystery . . . according to the purpose of the ages which He purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord (Eph. 3:9). B The dispensation of God given me for you (Col. 1:25).h

In the fulness of “time” (Gal. 4:4) when God sent forth His Son, the Greek word for “time” is chronos, but in Ephesians 1:10 the word is kairos a “season”, the time of harvest (Matt. 13:30), referring not to the clock, but to the season of the year. The usual Greek words translated “gather together” are not found in Ephesians 1:10 but a compound of kephale “head”, anakephalaioomai “to head up” is used. The R.V. reads “to sum up”, but the presence of three expressions “the Head” and “the Fulness” and “all things” in Ephenians 1:22,23, and the added fact that in Colossians we learn that Christ is also “Head of all principality and power (Col. 2:10), and that in Him dwells “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”, make it imperative that we retain the word “head” in the phrase which the A.V. translated “gather together”, and read “to head up”, and so suggest that what Christ is to the Church (ecclesia) of the One Body now (Eph. 1:22,23), He will be when the goal, as indicated in 1 Corinthians 15:28, shall be attained. Now, in this anticipatory dispensation, Christ is All and in all (Col. 3:11), but when “the end” comes, God will then be all in all. Both Ephesians 1:22,23 and 1 Corinthians 15:27,28 flow out of the special interpretation given by Paul of Psalm eight.

The Authorized Version renders Ephesians 1:11 “In whom also we have obtained an inheritance”, where the Revised Version reads: “In Whom also we were made an heritage.”

Cunnington translates “We were made God’s portion.” Rotherham reads “We were taken as an inheritance.” Moffatt reads “We have had our heritage allotted us.” [zie ook: The Companion Bible / Bullinger & Welch] /

The word kleroomai translated “obtain an inheritance” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Dr. Bullinger, in his Lexicon, tells us the word is in the middle voice and means “to acquire by lot, to obtain, to possess”, but leaves the question unsolved as to who it is that obtains.

We have on other occasions expressed our conviction, that many a doubtful passage in the New Testament can be rendered with certainty by referring to the parallel use in the LXX. One such passage is 1 Samuel 14:42, where in answer to the casting of lots between Saul and Jonathan, “Jonathan was taken”. The Greek Katakleroumai here is the translation of the Hebrew lakad “to take”, in what is called the niphal or passive voice, “be taken”, not actively “to take”. There are six occasions apart from 1 Samuel 14:41-42 where this word is used for being taken by lot.

  • “The tribe of Judah was taken . . . and Zabdi was taken . . . and Achan . . . was taken (Josh. 7:16-18).
  • “The tribe of Benjamin was taken . . . the family of Matri was taken, and Saul the son of Kish was taken” (1 Sam. 10:20,21).

It seems impossible to resist this evidence. Ephesians 1:11 teaches us NOT that we have obtained an inheritance, but that we have been taken by God as His inheritance! Of this rendering Alford says: “This seems to me the only rendering by which philology and the context are alike satisfied.”

We have already gained information by referring to the history of Israel. Let us turn again and see what that typical people tell us concerning this conception.

  • “And the Lord spake unto Aaron, thou shalt have no inheritance in the land, neither shall thou have any part among them: I am thy part and thine inheritance among the children of Israel.” (Num. 18:20).

This is blessing contrary to nature indeed! The man that God would honour the most, is to have, apparently, least, but only apparently. The tribes of Israel may possess a portion of the land, but Aaron finds his part and inheritance in the Lord Himself. This is not on all fours with Ephesians 1:11, but it is an approach. The Ephesian believer is taken one stage further; the Lord finds His portion in the members of the Church (ecclesia) of the One Body. This too finds fits its counterpart in Israe

“The Lord’s position is His people: Jacob is the lot of His inheritange” (Deut. 32:9).

We must not, however, make the mistake of insisting so much upon this aspect as to deny that Israel did have an inheritance.

Truth out proportion oft becomes a lie. In Deuteronomy 4:20, Mozes reminds Israel that they were taken to be a people of inheritance unto the Lord, but in verse 21 he refers to the good land which The Lord had given them for an inheritance. Both statements are necessary for a full presentation of the truth. Both Israel and the Church (ecclesia) are reminded that unless they are the Lord’s portion, all other portions will be a mockery. Unless they find their inheritance in the Lord, mere possessions will become vanity.

  • “All things are yours,” said the Apostle, “whether Paul or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours: and ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s” (1 Cor. 3:22,23).

The Apostle uses the word prothesis “purpose” once more in the Prison Epistles, namely in 2 Timothy 1:9, when speaking of the purpose of God, and once in 2 Timothy 3:10 of his own purpose and manner of life.

So far we have been concerned mainly with the question of purpose. We now turn to promise and will discover that the promises of God march with His purpose, and first of all, find their beginning and ending in Christ Jesus.

Purpose, Promise and Performance (No. 3)

The Promises

  • “For all the promises of God in Him are the Yea, and in Him Amen, unto the glory of God by us” (2 Cor. 1:20).

These sentiments form the general tenor of all Scripture. However many times we have been assailed by doubtings and disappointments, we shall all say, out of full hearts, the words of 1 Kings 8:56:

  • “There hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised . . .”

Both Sarah and Abraham are mentioned in the New Testament concerning their conviction that God keeps His promises. Abraham “staggered” not at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strong in faith, giving glory to God, and being fully persuaded that, what He had promised, He was able to perform” (Rom. 4:20-21). Sarah “herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful Who promised” (Heb. 11:11). God too, “willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath” (Heb. 6:17). Here in these three quotations, we have the assurance, that God is (1) Able, (2) Faithful, and (3) Unchangeable, with regard to His promises. So important and valued were these promises, that the Apostle when he lists the superior advantages of Israel says:

  • “To whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises” (Rom. 9:4).

In contrast, the Gentiles at that time were “Aliens . . . and strangers from the covenants of promise” (Eph. 2:12) and so were without hope, without Christ, and without God.

Coming to the positive references to “promise” in the Prison Epistles, and including the two epistles to Titus and 1 Timothy we read:

  • “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began” (Tit. 1:2).

1 Timothy 4:8 speaks of the “promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come”. 2 Timothy 1:1 opens with the words:

  • “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus.”

Coming to Ephesians we read:

  • “Ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory” (Eph. 1:13,14).

and among the special privileges that go with the membership of the Church (ecclesia) which is His body, we read:

  • “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel, whereof I was made a minister” (Eph. 3:6,7).

We have purposely refrained from digging too deeply into some of these passages, Ephesians 3:6 being one, but have simply emphasized the fact that God keeps His promises, that He is both able, and faithful and is worthy of our complete trust. These facts practically include our third item “Performance”, but we will give this a hearing also that our joy may be complete.


Jeremiah was staggered at the prospect of being a prophet unto the nations, and made as an excuse the confession:

  • “I cannot speak, for I am a child” (Jer. 1:6).

To encourage him, the Most High condescended to give Jeremiah a sign, and said to him:

  • “What seest thou? And I [Jeremiah] said, “I see a rod of an almond tree.”

The answer of the Lord is not very evident on the surface, for He said:

  • “Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten My word to perform it” (Jer. 1:11,12).

In Jeremiah 31:28, the word translated “hasten” in 1:12 is translated “watched”. The almond is one of the first trees to blossom in Israel, and was so called “the watcher”, and this would need no explanation to Jeremiah over any Hebrew living in his day. To Abraham promises had been made which included a seed, and a land, and when Isaac was distressed by famine, the Lord told him not to go down into Egypt but,

  • “Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father” (Gen. 26:3).

As we have earlier quoted, Solomon speaks of the performance of God’s promises in 1 Kings 8:20,24:

  • “The Lord hath performed His word that He spake.”
  • “Who hast kept with thy servant David my father that Thou promisedst him.”

Without further quotations, which the reader can supplement to his lasting benefit, we once again cite the Apostle’s words from Philippians 1:6:

  • “Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”

Purpose — Promise — Performance

What a trinity of blessing these three words contain, and they belong equally to Israel and the Church (ecclesia), without the possibility of failure through lack of power, through changeableness, or for any possible reason. May this blessed “confidence” be the portion of all who have put their trust in Him “Who is faithful that promised”.

The Question Why?

There can be few, if any, who have walked along life’s pilgrim pathway, without at times finding the word “Why?” forced from heart and lips, and we go straight to perhaps the most wonderful example of this human feature, the record of the crucifixion, and read the poignant words:

  • “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”

Matthew tells us that the language actually used by the Saviour was:

  • “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Matt. 27:46).

These words are a quotation from Psalm 22, and there is every evidence that the Saviour recited the whole Psalm and identified Himself with David and all perplexed believers, for later the Psalmist said: “They pierced My hands and My feet”. They part My garments among them, and cast lots upon My vesture”, and the closing words of the Psalm “He hath done (this)” could easily be the equivalent of the closing words of the crucified Saviour, “It is finished”. The cry “Why hast Thou forsaken Me?” cannot mean that Christ was taken unawares by His betrayal and actual crucifixion, such passages as Hebrew 10:5-10, Matthew 16:21; 26:2 and Luke 18:31 make such an excuse impossible. Let us for a moment turn to an earlier trial, and see how the Saviour met it. In Matthew 4:1-10 we have a record of the temptation of the Son of God in the wilderness. How did He resist the temptation, rebuke and triumph over the tempter? He Who Himself was The Word met the tempter exactly in the same way that you and I must meet him, He said “It is written” three times, and quoted three passages from O.T. Scriptures. The reviling crowd spoke truth when they said “He saved others, Himself He cannot save”.

Look at the record of Mark 4:35,36. At the close of a strenuous day of healing and teaching not only the multitudes, but when alone with His disciples, He at length said to them, “Let us pass over unto the other side”. Now note the words that follow:

  • “And when THEY [not He] had sent away the multitude, THEY took Him EVEN AS HE WAS in the ship”,

and even though a storm arose that threatened the safety of the ship, “He was . . . asleep on a pillow” (38). Here was “The Man Christ Jesus” dead beat, physically exhausted, working miracles for others, but never for Himself. At the discipels’ cry however, He Who had been carried “even as He was”, arose, rebuked the wind, and at His word the wind ceased and there was a great calm” (Mark 4:39-41). Now these passages (Matt, 27:46, Matt. 4:1-10 and Mark 4:34-41) have been brought forward to show that the Saviour entered into all the physical and mental trials that are known to man, and so the question “Why?” came from His lips, not because He did not know the answer, or was ignorant of the purpose of God, but that He might assure us that the eternal question “Why?” that haunts man from cradle to grave is understood by Him, and shared by Him.

So far as we have any means of knowing, man is the only creature on earth that asks the question “Why?”, and so with these introductory words, inadequate as they may appear to be, we turn to the Scriptures for example and for the answers given to this ever repeated question “Why”?

Psalm 73

The Psalm Asaph shows us a man of like infirmities as ourselves, whose faith was sorely tried, but who was graciously led to the only place where his questioning heart could be satisfied. The Psalm is divided into three parts by the recurrence of the words “Truly” (1) “Verily” (13) and “Surlely” (18) which are all translations of the same Hebrew word, and could be translated in each place “After all”. First the Psalmist gives the conclusion that he had been led to after a period of doubt, and says “After all, God is good to Israel”, and if we demur and say, did Asaph doubt this blessed fact? he himself says:

  • “As for me, my feet were almost gone; my steps had well nigh slipped” (2),

and this because he had become envious at the prosperity of the wicked who seemed to have no trouble as other men, whose eyes stood out in fatness and who had more than heart could wish. So in verse 13 he came to the sad conclusion:

  • “After all I have cleansed my heart in vain.”

But then came the wonderful change:

  • “Until I went into the sanctuary of God, then understood I their end” (17).
  • “After all, Thou didst set them in slippery places” (18).

Asaph’s question “Why?” was solved as our questioning must be solved “in the Sanctuary”. He had actually put his finger on the answer by his use of the word “chastened”, for this is the Lord’s dealings wit His own. Asaph’s feet “were almost gone”, his steps had “well nigh slipped”, but now he realized that those who had been the object of his envy would be cast down to destruction, while he emerged from the Sanctuary saying:

  • “Thou shalt guide me with Thy counsel” – “And afterward receive me to glory” – “Whom have I in heaven but Thee? (24,25).

Most of us at different times have felt like Asaph, but however slippery the path, and the assault of the enemy, we can say with him “Thou hast holden me by my right hand” (verse 23).

Abraham, the man of faith

Abraham is lifted out by the Apostle Paul, both in Romans and in Hebrew as a wonderful example of a faith “that staggered not” at an almost unbelievable promise, yet, there is an illuminating passage which shows that he was much like ourselves, and became haunted with the question “Why?”. This we find recorded in Genesis 15. Although Abraham believed in the Lord that Sarah should have a son and heir, Abraham nevertheless asked:

  • “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it [the land]?” (Gen. 15:8),

and at first reading, the answer of the Lord sounds the very opposite of reassurance:

  • “Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years” (13);

The assurance comes in the sequel:

  • “But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again” (16),

as we find they did (Exod. 12:40-42). There were several factors that led to delay. Terah’s halt at Haran, and Lot’s accompanying afterwards gave the evil one his opportunity. Now, instead of blotting out the Canaanite by one miraculous blow, the Lord seems to suggest that even the Amorite had some length of time allowed, “the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full” (Gen. 15:16). Daniel also tells us that “when the transgressors are come to the full” (Dan. 8:23) the closing phases of Prophecy will be at hand. This seems to be a principle that is observed even when dealing with iniquity. In the dreadful denunciation of hypocritical Pharisees and those that agreed with them, the Saviour said:

  • “Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?” (Matt. 23:32,33).

The Apostle Paul, referring to the antagonism of the Jews to the gospel, speaks of killing, persecuting, being contrary, forbidding to speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved, concluding with the words:

  • “To fill up their sins alway” (1 Thess. 2:15,16).

Here again some recognized “measure” seems to be in view, and therefore may be an answer to another “Why?” that has often expressed the worry and anxiety of man under the centuries of Satanic power. Why should Satan be allowed 6000 years of rebellion? Perhaps so mighty an antagonist needs to have a greater extent of liberty before the final judgment falls. We cannot say for certainty that this is so, but, taking all these and parallel passages into account, the agonized cry “Why?” may have to be answered:

  • “The iniquity of the Wicked ONE is not yet full”

and like Asaph we shall have to go into the sanctuary of God to gain peace and assurance and understand the “End”.

There is much that is left unsaid. If we can be assured that the Saviour Himself identifies Himself as the Son of Man by actually quoting as of Himself the agonized opening of Psalm 22, and if we can sympathize with Asaph in his distress and learn with him the lesson that he learned, and if like Abraham we catch a glimpse of the measure of iniquity that must be filled before judgment falls, then, while we may still at times be moved to ask “Why?” of some of life’s enigmas, we shall have the comfort of these Scriptures to enable us to trust where sometimes we cannot trace.


Zie ook: The Companion Bible /]


De geboorte van de Messias / Alfred Edersheim

Dat de Messias in Bethlehem geboren zou worden was helemaal in overeenstemming met de Oudtestamentische voorzegging in Micha 5:2 en ook de overtuiging van de rabbi’s. Maar niets druiste meer in tegen de Joodse geest dan de omstandigheden die er de oorzaak van waren: Een volkstelling, die nog wel op bevel van een heidense keizer en uitgevoerd door de zo gehate Herodes. Overeenkomstig de Joodse manier van registratie moest het volk zich laten inschrijven, stamgewijs en familiegewijs en een ieder in zijn eigen stad. Voor Jozef en Maria, die wisten dat ze van koning David afstamden, was het daarom niet meer dan vanzelfsprekend om naar Bethlehem te gaan.

Het is goed mogelijk dat Jozef en Maria blij waren Nazareth te kunnen verlaten, in de hoop zich in Bethlehem te kunnen vestigen. Verderop in het verhaal lezen we immers dat ze in Bethlehem in een huis verbleven en God hen tijdens hun verblijf in Egypte moest waarschuwen niet naar Bethlehem terug te keren (Matth. 2:11 en 22).

Aankomst in Bethlehem

De korte winterdag liep ten einde toen de twee reizigers uit Nazareth het einddoel naderden. De weg was lang en vermoeiend geweest. Waarschijnlijk hadden ze de gebruikelijke omweg gekozen via de oostelijke Jordaanoever en de doorwaadbare plaatsen bij Jericho, om niet door Samaria te hoeven gaan.

De details van hun aankomst in Bethlehem en de stal waar ze hun vertrek namen worden niet verteld. Naarmate de geschiedenis vordert zullen alleen maar meer bijzonderheden weggelaten worden. De Evangeliën zijn immers niet geschreven als een biografie van Jezus maar hebben dit tweevoudig oogmerk: “Opdat u gelooft dat Jezus de Messias is en opdat u, door te geloven, het leven zult hebben in zijn Naam (Joh. 20:31).” Het enige dat verteld wordt, is dat Maria haar eerstgeboren zoon baarde, hem in doeken wikkelde en in een voerbak legde.

De herders

Maar wanneer we de stal uitgaan, de stille verlaten nacht in, komt deze tot leven door herders en stemmen vanuit de hemel. De Joodse traditie kan hier ons verstand verlichten: Dat de Messias in Bethlehem geboren zou worden, stond vast. Dat gold ook voor de overtuiging dat hij geopenbaard zou worden vanaf Migdal Eder (de toren van de kudde). Migdal Eder, vlakbij Bethlehem en bij de weg naar Jeruzalem, was geen gewone wachttoren. Een passage in de Misjna laat zien dat de kudden die daar geweid werden waarschijnlijk bestemd waren voor de tempeloffers. Deze herders waren dus geen gewone herders. De laatstgenoemden waren in de ban gedaan vanwege hun manier van leven en hun noodzakelijke onthouding van religieuze verplichtingen. Dezelfde Misjna-passage laat zien dat deze kudden daar het hele jaar door lagen. Het was dus in die winternacht dat herders de wacht hielden over hun kudden, die bestemd waren voor de offerdiensten, precies op de plek waar volgens de traditie de Messias als eerste geopenbaard zou worden.

De engelen

En plotseling was daar de lang uitgestelde, onverwachte aankondiging. Een engel stond voor hun verblinde ogen, terwijl de heerlijkheid van de Heere hen leek te omhullen als een lichtmantel. Verbazing, ontzag en angst veranderden in rust en verwachting toen ze van de engel hoorden dat wat ze zagen geen voorbode was van een naderend oordeel. Integendeel. Het luidde voor het wachtende Israël grote vreugde in, de goede tijding dat de lang beloofde Redder, Messias en Heer geboren was in de stad van David. En zij mochten hem gaan zien en zouden hem herkennen door de nederigheid die zijn geboorte omgaf. Het was alsof aandachtig luisterende engelen dit signaal hadden afgewacht. Toen de boodschaper-engel uitgesproken was, kwamen ze in een grote menigte naderbij om de blijde boodschap te bezingen: “Eer zij aan God, in de hoogste hemelen, en vrede op aarde, in mensen een welbehagen (HSV).” Slechts één keer eerder hadden sterflijke oren engelenzang gehoord. Dat was toen Jesaja in een fascinerend visioen de tempel in de hemel geopend zag en de heerlijkheid van de Heere zich had uitgebreid over zijn vertrekken waardoor de dorpelposten het bijna begaven. Toén hadden de engelen de komst van het Koninkrijk aangekondigd en nu was de Koning gekomen.

De verspreiding van het goede nieuws

De herders haasten zich langs de terrassen omhoog naar Bethlehem. Daar vonden ze misschien niet wat ze hadden verwacht, maar wel wat hen was verteld: de moeder, de timmerman uit Nazareth, en de baby, gelegd in een voerbak. Wat er verder gebeurde is niet bekend, behalve dat ze aan iedereen vertelden wat ze gehoord en gezien hadden; waarschijnlijk ook in de tempel, waart ze hun kudden zouden brengen. Zo bereidden ze een Simeon en een Anna en een ieder die uitzag naar de verlossing van Israël voor op zijn komst.

Bewerkt naar: Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, vereenvoudigde uitgave. /


Alfred Edersheim (1825-1889)

Alfred Edersheim wordt in 1825 in Wenen geboren, als zoon van een bankier en als jongste van vier kinderen. Hij krijgt een Joodse opvoeding en na zijn studie filosofie verhuist hij naar Pest om zijn brood te verdienen. Daar komt hij in aanraking met zendelingen van de Schotse kerk en met het Nieuwe Testament. Diep onder de indruk van de Bergrede en de persoon van de Messias laat hij zich dopen, waarna hij in Schotland theologie gaat studeren en predikant wordt. In 1872 moet hij zich om gezondheidsredenen uit het ambt terugtrekken. Hij is dan 47 jaar oud. Vanaf dat moment zal hij een aantal werken schrijven die ook nu nog van belang zijn.

Zijn belangrijkste werk is The Temple waarin de tempeldienst beschreven wordt en het werk van de Messias en het evangelie duidelijk worden gemaakt.

Om de jeugd te wapenen tegen de Bijbelkritiek van zijn tijd schreef Edersheim ook een zevendelig commentaar op de historische boeken van het Oude Testament: Old Testament, Bible history. Heel mooi laat hij hierin zien dat in het O.T. God ten diepste niets anders van de mens vraagt dan op Hem te vertrouwen.

Z’n meest gelezen werk is waarschijnlijk: The Life and times of Jesus the Messiah, vooral geschreven voor studenten theologie en predikanten. Hierin plaatst hij de Messias tegen de achtergrond van zijn tijd, daarbij gebruik makend van zijn grote kennis van het jodendom.

Edersheims boeken getuigen van groot respect voor de Bijbeltekst. Woordjes waar wij geneigd zijn overheen te lezen, grijpt hij aan als bouwstenen voor zijn verhalen. Feitelijk zijn zijn Bijbelcommentaren historische vertellingen, waarin hij intens meeleeft met de lotgevallen van het Joodse volk, en van de Bijbelse hoofdpersonen.

Voor de Messias koesterde hij, zoals gezegd, grote bewondering. Ergens zegt Edersheim over hem: “Hij was de enige perfecte mens. Wanneer Jezus niet de Messias is, heeft de wereld nooit een Messias gehad en zal er ook nooit een hebben.” Een uitgebreide biografie en bibliografie vindt u op, /


Zie ook: Birth Date of Christ / The Star of Bethlehem / The STAR That ASTONISHED The World – By Ernest L. Martin:

Zie ook artikel van 23 maart 2018 / Vrienden van Israel!




Israël is niet te koop! Zie artikel in Israel Today / 2 februari 2020


Profetieën die in vervulling gaan!!

‘Decoding the Antichrist’ – book / Mark Biltz


Bible Prophecy Update: / J.D. Farag




Bijbelstudie lectuur – nieuw zie!




Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 10:37
Nov 112019
The apostasy of Christendom began in the departure from the teaching committed to the apostel Paul

DEPARTURE from the teaching of the Pauline Epistles was the beginning of apostasy in the Church — the commencement of the dark ages. The Reformation was an awakening to sense of this disobedience, but it was only “in part”; and the condition of the Protestant Evangelical Churches to-day exhibits as sad a condition, from another point of view, as the Church before the Reformation, and needs another Reformation, as great, though of another kind and in a different direction.

To see the root causes of this confusion we shall have to go back to the beginning, and see what Paul’s ministry really was, and was intended to be. It is recorded in Acts xiii. – xxviii. It is not taken up until after the record of Peter’s ministry is closed.

Paul (Acts xiii. – xxviii.) proclaims to Jews and Gentiles alike, perfection, apart from all ordinances, in union with Christ (Messias), in whom dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. He preaches Christ as the Head of His Body, the Church [ecclesia]. He declares “all the council of God” (Acts xx. 27). He “fully preaches the word of God” (Col. 1. 25, margin). Paul’s ministry completes the testimony which thus, in connection with the Parable of the Great Supper (Luke xiv. 15-24], ends in grace; while the ministry of Peter and the Twelve, in connection with the Parable of the Dinner, ends in judgment, see Matt. xxii. 7 {[his armies. The Roman armies. burned up their city. Gr. empretho, Occ. only here. This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place shortly after the close of the Acts Dispensation – Companion Bible /]} where we have the significant words: “He sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers and burnt up their city.”

This refers to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70, while the Third ministry (begun by Paul) to the Gentiles is carried on after that destruction, during the National rejection, and while Jerusalem lies desolate. No words could more distinctly express the present dispensation of Grace [Gr. oikonomia – Eph. iii. 2] to the Gentiles given to the apostle Paul.

After speaking the Parable of the Great Supper, the Lord first lays down the great truth that those who receive Him must be prepared to give up all connected with Judaism (Luke xiv. 26,27), as exemplified by Paul in Phil. iii. 4-14, where all that he once counted as “gain,” he counted as dross and loss for Christ’s sake.

This is followed by three solemn illustrations as to this coming change in the dispensation, ending with the words (v. 35), “he that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” They are the “Tower,” the “King,” and the “Salt.” These are given after the rejection of Israel had been spoken of in verse 24. Three solemn warnings are conveyed by these as to the folly of claiming the apostolic commission and authority when not possessing apostolic power: the warning which Christendom did not heed, and the error into which it has fallen.

THE BUILDING OF THE TOWER (Luke xiv. 28-30).

The Lord gave authority and power to His apostles to gather a people to His great supper (Luke ix. 1; Mark xvi. 15-18; Luke xxiv. 47-49; Acts ii. 38, and xv. 14). This was connected first of all with Jerusalem (Acts i. 4), and with Himself as the King of Israel and Lord of all.This authority and power ceased with the apostles to whom they were given, and they never were and never could be transmitted by them to others.

The apostles exercised this authority and power. They baptized; and, by the laying on of hands, they conferred miraculous gifts; but they could not transmit to those recipients the authority and power to give those gifts and signs to others. And when the ministry of the kingdom ended, Paul’s ministry of “the gospel of the grace of God” was to be continued and carried on among Jews and Gentiles alike, calling out the members of Christ’s Spiritual Body until that Body should be complete.

By this illustration of the “Tower” the Lord warns us not to claim this apostolic authority, unless we have the power to complete the work by the laying-on-of-hands, and the bestowal of miraculous gifts, which were the inseparable signs of that power and that authority.

In other words we are not to begin to “build,” unless we are able to “finish.”

Instead of this, men soon began to build the Church upon the foundations of the Kingdom; they began to build this Tower, and they went to war with the great enemy. They assumed to act in “apostolic succession,” but were destitute of its authority and power. The result of this attempt to build the Tower is another Babel (Gen. xi.), and it will now soon end in another Babylon (Rev. xvii.). That which claims to be the continuation of the ministry committed to the twelve apostles becomes “Babylon, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.” /

[HET BLOED SCHREEUWT UIT DE AARDE – De hartverscheurende geschiedenis van een eeuwenlange Jodenvervolging in Christelijk Europa en Gods antwoord hierop – Wim Verwoerd / boek is voorradig]

The Lord Jesus sent forth His apostles to proclaim the Kingdom of God, with power and authority over all devils (Luke ix. 1). This was the proof that the Kingdom of God was come to Israel (Luke xi. 20). The Lord warns men not to proclaim the King or the Kingdom unless they had power to cast out Satan, the great king who is opposed to them. If they have not this power, their true course is to act as ambassadors, seeking the peace of those who are afar off.

The parable teaches plainly the change in the character of the gospel as sent to the Gentiles by Paul from its character as addressed by Peter and the Twelve to Israel. To Israel it proclaimed the Lord Jesus as the King, by His apostles as the heralds of His authority and power; but now to the Gentiles, afar off, the ministers of the Gospel are ambassadors of Christ, desiring His enemies to be reconciled to God.

Those, therefore, who in any sense lay claim to the figment of “Apostolic Succession,” and those also who, while they reject it, yet ignorantly assume the continuation of the apostolic ministry (after the authority, and power, and sign-gifts have alike ceased), are trying to build this Tower, but are unable to finish it. Nay, worse, far worse than this, this building results in another tower of Babel–for confusion is the meaning of its name, and confusion is what we see everywhere around us. They are unable to cope with the great king with whom they contend: they “forsake” not those things that hey have (v. 33), and they cannot be, the Lord Jesus says, “My disciples.” They may pretend to be the Apostles’ successors, but are not Christ’s disciples.

The great lesson for us lies in the fact that the apostasy of Christendom began in the departure from the teaching committed to Paul concerning “The Mystery,” or the great Secret concerning the Church of God [ecclesia] as the Body of Christ, “the pillar and ground” of all Church truth.


Paul’s “teaching” declares that Christ is made of God the Head of the Church [ecclesia], which is His Body, and that true believers are the “members of Christ,” in dwelt by the “one Spirit,” wherewith, by the “one baptism,” they have been baptized by the “one Lord,” into the “one Body” (Eph. iv.); that these members of Christ are sanctified in Christ; and are called by God into fellowship with His Son; that they are one Spirit with Him, and are “the temple of the living God.”

For these, “Christ hath abolished in his flesh, the law of commandments contained in ordinances.” Colossians ii gives us their true standing. They are “complete in Him” (v. 10). Hence, their circumcision is that which is “made without hands,” being “the circumcision of Christ” (v. 11); and if their circumcision is effected without hands, then, of necessity their baptism must be of the same character. Their baptism is Christ’s burial (v. 12): for them, ordinances are “blotted out” and “taken out of the way” (v. 14), and they are asked Why, if they died with Christ from the rudiments (i.e. religious ordinances) of the world, Why are they “subject to ordinances after the commandments and doctrines of men?” (v. 20, 22). Thank God, there are those who thus know their completeness and perfection in Christ.

But there are thousands who have not this wondrous knowledge. The eyes of their understanding are not enlightened (Eph. i. 18). They are led by those who claim to be successors of the Apostles, and who claim to continue–not Paul’s ministry, but that of the Twelve! And what was …


In 1883 there was published, under this title, a MS., then recently discovered in the library of the Patriarch of Jerusalem, at Constantinople. The date of the MS. was June 13th, 1056: but all scholars are agreed that is a copy of a work which was originally written in the last quarter of the first century. Its existence had long been known, for it had been quoted by the Sub-Apostolic Fathers, Barnabas (A.D. 71), and Hermas (A.D. 100), and by Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 192). Eusebius (H.E. iii 2), A.D. 330-340, mentions it as well-known in his day, and classes it among the “controverted books” of the Canon (Two or three reproductions of it have been published in English, with notes, &c.)

The work consist entirely of moral precepts, and rules as to prayer, fasting, baptism, and the Eucharist, and ends with a solemn reference to the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the dead.

We cannot, of course, believe that this was the actual teaching of the Twelve. But this is what it had degenerated into before the close of the first century. We can well understand why all Sacramentarians should hail the appearance of this ancient writing: and, instead of seeing in it the corruption of Christianity, and the commencement of the Apostasy, should welcome it, and make it the ground of their own “teaching.” But it shows a lack of discernment indeed for others to speak of this Didache, or “Teaching of the Twelve,” with approbation, and to see in it a model for the present day, instead of a departure from Primitive Christianity.

Alas! the teaching of Paul was soon apostatised from! and even the teaching of the Twelve “was corrupted”! That corrupted teaching may be summed up in two words, MORALITY AND ORDINANCES.

Is not this exactly what we see around us on every hand to-day? Holding fast to these two, the other two have been abandoned and practically lost, viz., (1) the coming of the Lord, and (2) resurrection as the hope of the Church (ecclesia)!

This was the cause, the beginning, of the apostasy of Christendom: this it was that led up to and brought on “the dark ages”: and this is the secret cause of “the present distress” in the churches.

The ministry of the apostle Paul is rejected, and the ministry of the Twelve is still carried on by those who, though destitute of the Apostles’ authority and power, impose on their hearers “the commandments and doctrines of men,” and put them in subjection to “ordinances”: and, worse than that, they add “commandments” . . . “touch not, taste not, handle not”!

Christianity, to-day, has woefully degenerate. Ordinances have become more and more positive in their character; preaching is everywhere being set aside, while even morality itself becomes more and more negative. For the most part it consist in abstinence from this or that; and in vows and pledges and badges. It is “touch NOT, taste NOT, handle NOT”: but “all are to perish with the using”; and all are characteristic of the ministry which is now being every where exercised. THE END!

By Dr. E.W. Bullinger /


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Zie ook het magazine Israel today, Nieuws dat anderen niet brengen …



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From Judea: Thank you American Christians for Presidents Trump’s declaration legalizing Judea & Samaria / 21-11-2019 /


Gerard J.C. Plas


 Posted by at 15:15
Oct 292019

PEACE, and at such a time

PEACE, and at such a time

We have taken an harmless liberty with the salutation found in Ezra 4:17 with which Artaxerxes opened his letter to his chancellor, for there, the frase ‘at such a time’ was equivalent to our indicating 2/6/63 at the opening of a letter to-day.

  • Then sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and to Shimshai the scribe, and to the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and unto the rest beyond the river, “Peace, and at such a time … ” (Ezra 4:17-22).

To us ‘Peace and at such a time’ reminds us that though the signs of the times are ominous and the great Dictator with the United nations, churches, army, police and government seem well on the way, and the hearts of many be very disquieted by looking after the things that are coming on the each, and in the air. There can nevertheless be enjoyed a peace, which the world cannot give nor blessed be God, take away.

Let us open our meditation by becoming acquainted with the words we use, for if we invest them with meanings foreign to the intention of the Holy Spirit Who inspired this use and insertion, we shall be misled and misguided at the outset. Peace, the English word is derived from the Latin Pax, and means mainly ‘Absence of war and strife’, as Byron puts it:

  • ‘Mark! Where his carnage and his conquest cease! He makes a SOLITUDE, and calls it – PEACE!

There has come into our vocabulary the terrible words ‘Peace at any price’, which we shall presently see is diametrically opposed to the Scriptural grounds of peace. To ‘hold one’s peace’ is just to say nothing — this too is a belittling of the Scriptural concept of peace. We even use the expression ‘Peace establisment’ to refer to the number of the armed forces that are enlisted when actual war is not being threatened or engaged. In 1 Timothy 2:2 quiet and peaceable are the translations of the Greek words eremos and hesuchios.

  • ‘For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet (eremos) and peaceable (hesuchios) life in all godliness and honesty’

Let us consider the testimony of Romans Five, which opens with the words:

  • ‘Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God. Through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (Rom. 5:1).

When our Saviour appeared in the midst of His disciples, after the resurrection He not only SAID ‘Peace be unto you, but He SHOWED them His hands and His side (John 20:10). It is easy for any of us to say ‘Peace’ but it will be a mockery unless it is grounded in the finished work of Christ, that not only ‘justifies’ us freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus but ‘Justifies’ God in so doing. ‘That He may be JUST and the JUSTIFIER of him which believeth in Jesus’ (Rom. 3:24-26). So we come back to our earlier reference, namely Rom. 5:1:

  • ‘Being justified by faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ’.

The Rock foundation– ‘Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Thee: because he trusted in Thee. Trust ye in the Lord for ever: for in the Lord Jehovah is the ROCK OF AGES‘ (Isa. 26:3,4; Deut. 32:4, 18&30 see: Companion Bible –

  • ‘Peace, perfect peace, in this dark world of sin, The blood of Jesus whispers, Peace, within’, (lines of a hymn). ‘Righteousness and peace have kissed each other’ (Ps. 85:10) – which is a poetic way of bringing ‘Righteousness and Peace’ together in the word ‘reconciliation’ as we find in Romans 5:1-11.

Aspects of Peace

Peace has a doctrinal aspect, a dispensational aspect, a personal aspect, a prophetic aspect, and it also has, as nearly all the good things of God, a false travesty against which we must be warned. We have looked at the doctrinal basis of peace, let us now consider the way it is employed in Ephesians, where we shall find that the dispensational change associated with the prison ministry of Paul is closely related to ‘peace’ of a special nature.

eirene ‘Peace’ in Ephesians — We are not surprised to find that this word occurs eight times in this epistle, and by the way in which it is distributed gives evidence of Divine disposition of its occurrences:

A Eph. 1:2 The Salutation B a 2:14 Enmity abolished b 2:15 The twain — one c 2:17 To the afar off / c 2:17 To those made nigh b 4:3 The Bond — Unity B a 6:15 Enemies withstood A Eph. 6:23 The Benediction

Romans lays the foundation. This is doctrinal truth, Ephesians builds the superstructure, the Temple, this is dispensational. Doctrine does not change. Dispensational do, they have regard to spheres, earth, heaven, new Jerusalem, callings, Kingdom, Church [ecclesia], Bride, Body, and the peace of Ephesians 2:14,15 is the peace brought about by the constitution of the Church [ecclesia], the Body of Christ, were distinctions such as were typified by the middle wall of partition abolished. ‘The both one’ almost expresses what some Lexicographers believe the origin of the Greek word Eirene to be, i.e.:

One by means of Two — and so we are not surprised to observe that where we read in Ephesians 2:14,15 peace is associated with ‘one new man’ [Jew and Gentile], in Ephesians 2:16 reconciliation is associated with ‘One Body’ [Jew and Gentile]. Ephesians 2:13 declares this company to be ‘made nigh’ ‘by the BLOOD of Christ’ while verse 16 shows that reconciliation is by the ‘cross’. The unity thus formed necessitated the ‘breaking down’ of the middle wall of partition, the abolishing of the law concerning ordinances and the slaying of the enmity such had engendered. Further, those ‘made nigh’ in verse 13 by ‘the blood of Christ’ have ‘access by one spirit’ (17). ‘Far off’ are made nigh (13) and Far off and nigh have had this special aspect of peach preached to them. Some, i.e. Gentiles were once ‘aliens and strangers’ (12), but they are ‘no more strangers and foreigners’ (19). It may be of service if we demonstrated a little more graphically what this ‘middle wall of partition’ was to which the apostle refers. What is this middle wall? (This middle wall was part of the temple at Jerusalem. An area exclusive to the Jew within the Court of the Gentiles. A barrier marked its boundaries and was marked by signs (which remained known but undiscovered until 1871). The apostle Paul was thought to have taken Greeks across the barrier, which (Acts 21:28,29) began, as a result, Paul’s protracted journey to ‘see Rome’ (Acts 19:21) This Middle Wall therefore took on immense significance as dividing Jew from Gentile).

The bond of peace

It is important that we know that the article ‘the’ is employed here. Paul, is not referring to peace in general, but to some aspect already known to these Ephesians, he speaks of ‘The bond of the peace’ (Eph. 4:3). The introduction of the covenants, whether old or new, any distinction between ‘far off and nigh’ [Jew or Gentile], the continuance or attempt to perpetuate ‘ordinances’ or ‘the decrees’ same word of Acts 16:4, are antagonistic to the concept of the Church [eclessia] which is ‘one body’, the unity of which can only be kept ‘in the bond of the peace’ already revealed. Finally, just as there was ‘enmity’ which had to be ‘slain’ so the corresponding reference is to the enmity of the heavenly principalities and powers (Eph. 6:12-15). At first sight there does not seem to be any valid connection between ‘ordinances’ observed down here and ‘principalities and powers’ up there, but a consultation of Colossians chapter 2 will reveal that such is the truth. This church [ecclesia] is told that there is a true circumcision ‘made without hands’ which is linked with a corresponding ‘baptism’, for if baptism be in water, then circumcision here will be literal also. All such ‘handwriting of ordinances’ that was against us’ and ‘contrary to us’, Christ has taken away ‘nailing’ all such to His cross. This evidently ‘spoiled principalities and powers’ and triumphed over them. As a consequence, the apostle says:

Let no man judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy-day (Notice the ‘y’ not ‘i’, it has nothing to do with Bank holidays or the seaside), or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days, which are a SHADOW of things to come, but the body is of Christ … if ye be dead with Christ (see vs: 13) from the rudiments of the world, why are ye subject to ORDINANCES? (Col. 2:16-22). Zie ook artikel: THE BOOK OF REVELATION AND THE FEAST OF THE LORD etc. /

To us, the controversy regarding whether ‘Infant Baptism’, ‘Adult Baptism’. ‘Believers’ Baptism’, ‘Sprinkling’ or ‘Immersion’ has no personal concern, the only ‘Baptism’ in which we are interested is that ‘one baptism‘ of Ephesians 4:5.

Peace, in Colossians

There are but two occurrences of eirene ‘Peace’, in Colossians one in the opening salutation (Col. 1:2), and one in Colossians 3:15. As it is most probable that the two epistles, Ephesians and Colossians, were exchanged as suggested in Colossians 4:16, so we give all our attention here in Colossians 3:15:

  • ‘Let the peace of God rule in your hearts’

This is a new aspects of ‘peace’ and its meaning is made clearer by comparing with Philippians 4:7. There are many words used both in the Hebrew and the Greek which are translated ‘rule’ but there is only one occurrence of Brabeuo. The word so translated in Colossians 3:15. It means the ‘rule’ of an Umpire adjudging the prize winners or disqualifying those engaged in the Greek sports, and so is allied with Brabeion, I Corinthian 9:24 and in Philippians 3:14 where it is translated ‘Prize’. Bloomfield gives the following free translation of Col. 3:15:

  • ‘Let that peaceable disposition enjoined by God to all true believers be, as it were, an UMPIRE to compose all differences between you, so as to be the director of your feelings, the ruling principle of your hearts’.

Some commentators advise us to avoid any idea of a combat or a prize here, but Colossians 2:18 uses the compound katabrabeuo ‘Beguile you of your reward’, and the words of 1 Corinthians 9:34 ‘One receiveth the prize’ where brabeion renders all such objections valueless. ‘To act the Umpire’ is borrowed from the Greek sports, and Colossians 3:15 with its use of brabeuo and the earlier reference to ‘the prize’ or ‘reward’ in Colossians 2:18 make all such objections, however learned, void. Let us turn to a reference to ‘the peace of God’ in the epistle of ‘The Prize’. The apostle enjoined upon these Philippians ‘moderation’ or ‘yieldingness’ if such a word is permissible. The quality must not of course be shown in stewardship, in which capacity we may yield ‘no, not for an hour’. But in the matter of our own rights and liberties we can afford to let much go for the sake of Christ and His people, even as did Paul. The apostle told the Philippians to be ‘careful’ for nothing in 4:6, yet he commended their ‘care’ and their ‘carefulness’ in verse 10, but in verse 6 the word means ‘over anxiety’ as in Luke 10:41. He did not want them to be a group of ‘Marthas’ ‘careful and troubled about many things’, but said after committing our cause to the Lord in prayer, leave it there, and then uses a military figure, which he drew from his own experiences: in 2 Corinthians concerning his escape from Damascus, he said that ‘the king kept the city of the Damascenes with a garrison’. The word he uses which is translated ‘kept with a garrison’ is the same used in Philippians 4:7 where instead of an army soldiers, it is the peace of God that acts like a garrison. This like the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, may pass our understanding but it is possible to simple faith.

The God of Peace (Phil. 4)

These things lead us on to the God of Peace. It is one great blessing to know that we are ‘at peace with God’ but it is almost overwhelming to think that ‘The God of Peace’ may be with us’. The apostle refers back first to a list of virtues, then to his own manner of life. Things honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report:

  • ‘If there be any virtue, and if there be any praise think on these things’ (Phil. 4:8).

If the mind is occupied with such things, many that disturb and cause anxiety will retire into the background, but there is more in it than that. Logizomai ‘think’ is the word uses in Philippians 3:13 where it does not, and cannot mean meditation, but ‘reckon’ or ‘count’. Logizomai occurs in Romans 19 times, translated ‘Think’ in Romans 2:3 in the sense of reckoning, and in Romans 4 it is translated ‘count’, ‘reckon’, ‘impute’, and what the apostle seems to say in Philippians 4 is that whilst we shall find no difficulty in discovering the faults and failings of others, I enjoin you, use a magnifying glass if need be to see IF there be any virtue, and IF there be any cause for praise, and then RECKON THESE THINGS, and turns to his own example saying:

  • ‘Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me DO, and not only will the ‘peace of God’ act as a garrison of soldiers to your hearts and minds, but ‘The God of peace’ shall be ‘with you’ (Phil. 4:7-9).

The God of Peace (Rom. 16:20)

We do not associate in our mind, Peace and War at the same time and by the same agency, but in Romans 16:20 we read:

  • ‘The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly’

We have already learned that ‘Peace’ (Heb. shalom) means ‘settlement’ and not until Satan is destroyed and the seed of the serpent eradicated will ‘Peace’ be fully realized. Rom. 16:20 looks back to the primeval promise of Genesis 3:15, and it must be observed that both seeds, the seed of the serpent, and the seed of the woman are ‘bruised’ the difference being that in the case of the Serpent, the head was to be bruised, and in that of the seed of the woman, His heel was to be bruised in the conflict. In the one case that of the Serpent, no possibility of life after the struggle was possible, but in the case of the Seed of the woman, the bruising of the heel, left room for recovery. It is not at all clear in Genesis 3:15 that the ‘seed’ would include the followers or progeny of both the Serpent and the Saviour, but Romans 16:20, while not allowing the true seed to take any part in the sacrifice of Christ for sin, ‘He was bruised for OUR iniquities’ (Isa. 53:5) we yet refer to the revelation of Romans 16:20 to discover that the closing verse of Isaiah 53 where we read ‘He shall divide the spoil’ includes the redeemed. At the future destruction of the Serpent, Satan shall be bruised under their feet also.

A word of warning:-

Satan does not originate, he travesties, copies, distorts to his own ends the words and ways of God, consequently we must be on our guard against being deceived by a false peace. Speaking of the coming Day of the Lord, the apostle warned the Thessalonians that:

  • ‘When they shall say PEACE and SAFETY: then sudden destruction shall come upon them’ (1 Thess. 5:3) for those who thus speak are called ‘children of darkness’ and are unwatchful, and asleep in their false confidence (1 Thess. 5:4-7).

Joshua was tricked into making peace with certain Canaanites, into making ‘peace’ and a ‘league’ with them, and such have their counterpart to-day (Josh. 5). Jeremiah 6:14 warns against those who healed the hurt of the people ‘slightly’ saying ‘Peace’ when there is no peace’ (Jer. 6:14; 8:11); Ezekiel 13:10 speaks of the people being ‘seduced’ by the false prophets. The world in which we live, terrified as it well may be with the growth of weapons of wholesale destruction are seeking ‘Peace’ almost at any price, seeking some ground of peace for the Nations, the Churches, the labour movements and other bodies of men, only to prepare, if they did but know it for the Advent and the grip of: ‘The Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition’. There will be no peace, no Millennium while the true ‘Prince of Peace’ Christ Jesus [Jesjoea Masjiach] is absent, neglected or denied.

By C.H. Welch / The Berean Expositor / OCTOBER 2019 VOL. 70 No. 4



Legacy – A bequest, a gift of personal property, by will. We ask the question, what is our legacy as members of the Body of Christ? How do we begin to understand what the Mystery is about? Let us look at three references to start with, by the Apostle Paul.

  • ‘Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure with he hath purposed in himself’ (Ephesians 1:9).
  • ‘How that by revelation (unveiling) he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)’ (Ephesians 3:3-4) .
  • ‘Wherefore I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfill (complete) the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints’ (Colossians 1:25-26).

The mystery of Christ as seen in Romans 16:25, cannot possibly be the mystery given to Paul in the Ephesian epistle, as the mystery of the prison ministry had not been made known to Paul at this time. Secondly, the epistle to the Romans speaks of that mystery here being given ‘since the world began’ and not before ‘the foundation of the world’, when we were chosen in Christ, see Ephesians 1:4.

We cannot separate the mystery from the body of Christ as revealed in Paul’s ministry after Acts 28:28. There is only one way that we can get this understanding, it is not by maturity, scholarship or experience as many teach. If that was the case many of the great teachers and preachers down the ages, would have both written and preached about it, alas, the absence of such writings dispel this theory. There is only one way to gain an appreciation of these wonderful truths and that is by revelation.

  • ‘That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints’ (Ephesians 1:17-18).

Without this enlightenment, understanding will not happen. So the argument that all believers from Acts 28 are in the Body of Christ, whether they appreciate it or not, is not valid. Let us examine this in more detail.

Assuming that all believers are members of the Body of Christ, why was it necessary for Paul to pray the prayer of Ephesians 1:16-18. Surely if all believers are automatically in the Body of Christ no enlightenment was needed.

Then there is the question of our walk.

  • ‘I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that you walk worthy (worthily) of the vocation wherewith ye are called’ (Ephesians 4:1).
  • ‘There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling’ (Ephesians 4:4).

The question will then be asked, ‘Can more than one calling, dispensation or stewardship run together?’ The answer is most definitely YES.

The land was promised to Abram and his seed, this was their legacy.

  • ‘Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed’ (Genesis 12:1-3).
  • ‘And the LORD appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land; and there builded he an altar unto the LORD, who appeared unto him’ (Genesis 12:7).

When we come to the Hebrew epistle we read:-

  • ‘By faith Abraham when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Hebrew 11:8-10).
  • ‘But now they desire a better country, that is, and heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city’ (Hebrew 11:16).

Evidence here that there were those who would happily inherit the land which had been promised to them, then there were those like Abraham who were looking for another inheritance (heavenly city). This is not an isolated example. Although this nation of Israel were given the law and were under the dispensation (stewardship) of the law, there were those, who knew nothing of such things and were under the dispensation of conscience and creation. See Romans 1 and Acts 14:16-17. This demonstrates to us, the holiness and fairness of our Heavenly Father, to those who have never know the law, or heard of Christ.

The following shows two different stewardships of Peter and Paul running together:

  • ‘But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision unto Peter; (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me towards the Gentiles)’ (Galatians 2:7-8).

These are two dispensations, of Peter and Paul running together.

Coming to John’s gospel, here we find much controversy in the dating of this book. The majority of scholars give it a late dating. If that is the case it must have been written after Acts 28 and the Ephesian epistle, although John never writes about the Truth of the Mystery, the message must have been known. John is writing to the world.

  • ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life’ (John 3:16).
  • ‘He came unto his own, and his own received him not’ (John 1:11).

This verse suggests that it was written after Acts 28, certainty after the Jews had rejected Christ. Of course it is convenient for those who teach that all believers from Acts 28 are in the Body of Christ, to give John an early dating. The gospel of John is for the world, presenting Christ as God and claiming that there is only one way to the Father and that is through our Lord Jesus Christ. See the following verses: – John. 1:1-4; John 5:24-26, 40; John 6:35, 40, 47; John 10:27-28, ‘my sheep’; John 11:25; John 14:6; John 20:30-31, all in Christ. This message from John’s gospel is for the world at large.

We read something similar in Paul’s ministry, see Ephesians 1:7 and Ephesians 2:8-9. There the similarity ends. In the church (ecclesia) of the One Body, we are never referred to as sheep, here we stand complete in Christ in the Heavenlies.

  • ‘And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus’ (Ephesians 2:6).
  • ‘And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power’ (Colossians 2:10).

Ephesians 1:4 tells us that we were ‘chosen before the foundation of the world’.

Colossians 2:14-23. Here there is an absence of ordinances. Our legacy has to be closely guarded, this calling within a calling has to be zealously watched, Paul recognized the dangers of those who would spoil these glorious Truths that have been entrusted to us. Paul writes: ‘Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ‘ (Colossians 2:8).

May our Heavenly Father give us the knowledge, courage and wisdom to combat those who would try and confuse this calling to which we have been called.

Alan Schofield / The Berean Expositor / OCTOBER 2019 VOL. 70 No. 4


Israel items:


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In februari verscheen Het Israël van God, ontwerp van een Israël-theologie van de hand van prof.dr. Willem Ouweneel. Hij behandelt niet alleen uiteenlopende opvattingen over Israël, maar presenteert ook de theologische vragen rondom Israël en de Kerk.

Het Israël van God / Ontwerp van een Israeltheologie / € 49.95 / te bestellen bij: GIDEON boeken /

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 19:16
Sep 262019
The book of Revelation and the Feast of the Lord

Did you know that in the Book of Revelation alone we find references to over six hundred verses from the Old Testament, which is also known as the Tanakh? How in the world can you understand the Book of Revelation if you don’t connect the verses to the original Scriptures that were used as a reference? The Book of Revelation relies extensively on imagery and allusions from the Tanakh, so the Christian view of the coming Messiah is most properly understood by looking through the Jewish lens.

For example, John 1:1 states, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John used the very first words from the Book of Genesis, “In the beginning,” implying Yeshua is the Word that was there at creation.

Then, in the first chapter of Revelation, the apostle John sees a menorah (“seven golden candlesticks”), and Yeshua is standing in the middle with eyes like flames of fire (vv. 12-14). The Greek rendering states John is seeing the Alpha and Omega. But in Hebrew it is correctly rendered as the Aleph and Tav, the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet.

The most exciting revelation I ever had concerning end-time understanding was when my eyes were opened to how the feasts of the Lord were directly tied to the Book of Revelation and the unfolding of end-time events. By the feasts of the Lord I am referring to Leviticus 23, where God lays out His divine appointments according to His calendar for the timing of His feasts such as Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, Trumpets, Yom Kippur, Tabernacles, and others. I say this because too many Christians portray the feasts of the Lord as the feasts of the Jews and throw them into the trash bin of history because of the Anti-Semitic philosophy of the early church fathers.

I studies the feasts back in the ’70s when I went to Bible college, but they were taught from a replacement-theology perspective. To properly understand who the Messiah is, you must look at His second coming and the Book of Revelation through the eyes of the feasts. God said He declared the end from the beginning, so let’s go to the beginning of the Bible and see what God says concerning the end of times!

In Genesis 1:14 God said He created the sun and the moon for signs, seasons, days, and years. All too often we think this refers to our calendar, made up of winter, spring, summer, and fall, as well as our days of the week and the year 2017, 2018, 2019 …

There are many calendars in the world. The current pagan calendar most of the world uses today is only two thousand years old, so it can’t be an original. As you probably know, our calendar is very scientific and accurate, as it is based totally on the cycle of the sun. The muslim calendar is also very scientifically accurate, as it is based solely on the cycle of the moon.

But guess what? In Genesis, God told us the calendar He uses is based on both the sun and the moon. When He talked about how they were to determine the days and years, He was referring to His holy days such as Passover and Yom Kippur. The years referred to the seven-year cycle in which Israel was to let the land rest and settle all financial debts. It was known as the Shemitah year. There was also the Jubilee year, which was ever fiftieth year, when the land returned to its original owner. Nowhere are any od these recognized on our regular calendar or the Muslim calendar, so our calendars are definitely not God’s calendar.

It doesn’t help that the English word seasons is also translated inaccurately! The Hebrew word is moed. Did you know the English translators decided to translate this same Hebrew word in Leviticus 23:2 as the word feast? What in the world? Does the Hebrew word mean fall or food? When I think of a feast, I’m thinking of a big turkey dinner!

Believe it or not, both translations are inaccurate! The word moed actually means a divine appointment. Think of it this way: God set the sun and the moon on His time clock. The sun can be the our hand, and the moon the minute hand. The Bible says a day with the Lord is as a thousand years. (See 2 Peter 3:8). God placed specific times (moed) in His daily planner when He wanted to meet with His people.

This is why God specifically showed Moses how to determine when the months were to begin by showing him how the moon would look at the beginning of each month. He also told him that Passover had to be kept in the spring, which is why the biblical calendar adds a thirteenth month seven times over a nineteen-year cycle to keep Passover in the spring.

I used to live in Garden City, Kansas, on the border between two time zones: mountain time and central time. If you’ve never lived near the border between two time zones, let me tell you, it’s helpful to have two clocks — especially if you live in one zone and work a couple of miles away in the other. It can take “an hour” to drive a couple of miles without any traffic!

It is the same for believers. We must realize that we need to operate on two different calendars: the one God created (if we care about His schedule) and the one man created (because we still live in this world), The time is coming when our pagan calendar will be trashed and all believers will be following God’s calendar, as it says we will be doing at the end of Isaiah 66 when He creates the new heavens and new earth (vv. 22-23).

If your boss told you he wanted to meet with you at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, and you told him that didn’t work in your schedule, so he’d better meet with you at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, do you think you would have a job on Monday? The Creator of the universe ordained a calendar at creation that He would reveal to mankind at the appointed time. In other words, He scheduled divine appointments to meet with His kids.

The problem is that many believers don’t show up because they are either unaware or don’t care. One of the big things the evil one wants to do is get you to miss divine appointments. Daniel 7:23-25 mentions how the fourth beast wants to change the times and the laws. This refers to God’s appointed times, not the calendar the world uses!

In one sense the antichrist spirit has partially succeeded by moving Passover from the biblical calendar to the pagan calendar. In 2016 Christians celebrated Easter a month before Passover! How in the world do you celebrate Christ’s resurrection a month before His death unless you’re on the wrong calendar?

Why is Christmas always December 25, but Easter bounces all over the place? It is because the early church wanted to separate from anything to do with the Jewish people! So in AD 325 the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox. God’s calendar is based on both the sun and the moon, so Passover doesn’t fall in the winter or Hanukkah in the summer.

During the time of the Messiah, there was no set calendar, as the Sanhedrin would determine it based on several factors. The primary factor was the spring equinox, and if it look as if it would fall later than the first half of the month of Nisan, they would declare a leap year and add an extra month. Yet that was not the only factor, as God wanted them to participate in the decision, so if the weather was not spring-like and the barley would not be harvested, then another month would be added.

The Greeks were big on nature and astronomy. They did not like that the Jewish authority felt they could decide when the new moon was sighted to determine the new month for the Jewish people, even when it didn’t coincide with their own observations. During the times of Hanukkah the Greeks determined that the Jews would die if they used the authority of the Sanhedrin in determining the biblical calendar. In AD 359, because Rome was in power, the Sanhedrin was no longer able to determine all the factors that were necessary to set the calendar. So Rabbi Hillel of the great Sanhedrin set a perpetual calendar, adding an extra month seven times over nineteen years to keep the calendar accurate until either the temple is rebuilt or the Messiah comes.

The Catholic Church members felt they had the authority rather than the Jewish people to determine when Easter should be celebrated. Protestants today follow the authority of the Catholic Church in this and other matters.


The next incredible finding I discovered was that the feasts were actually dress rehearsals, or shadows, of what was to come! Leviticus 23 tells us that on the fourteenth day of the first month before the evening is the Lord’s Passover. And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread unto the Lord. Notice it says the Lord’s Passover, not the Jewish Passover. This is also not referring to January 14 or 15!

Why do you think the Lord died on Passover, He was buried on Unleavened Bread, He rose on the Feast of Firstfruits, and the Spirit was poured out on Shavuot, which we know as Pentecost? Do you believe the LORD is the same yesterday, today, and forever? Do you really? Then if He fulfilled the spring feasts to the day of His first coming, He will also fulfill the fall feasts to the day of His second coming!

I am not setting dates but revealing established patterns in the Word of God. So let’s review the instructions for the feasts and see how they correlate to the Book of Revelation.

We have the Feast of Trumpets in Leviticus 23, which takes place on the first day of the month of Tishri, which is around September/Oktober. I believe this is the appointed time for the dress rehearsal of the coronation of the Messiah some year on that day. Do we hear anything about trumpets in the Book of Revelation? Of course we do! So we must understand this feast to fully comprehend what the Book of Revelation is talking about.

The Feast of Trumpets is known as the opening of the doors and is the day when God sits on His throne to judge all of mankind. What do we find in Revelation 4:1-2? We find John beholding a door being “opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter. And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the trone.” This is the Feast of Trumpets terminology! All through Revelation we are hearing of trumpets.

What about Yom Kippur? It is found in the Book of Revelation? You bet it is!

In Leviticus 16 we read about the instruction for the Yom Kippur service. We find in verses 12-15 the priest “shall take a censer full of burning coals of fire from off the altar before the LORD, and his hands full of sweet incense beaten small, and bring it within the vail: and he shall put the incense upon the fire before the LORD, that the cloud of the incense may come over the mercy seat that is upon the testimony, that he die not: and he shall take the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat.”

Psalm 141:2 likens our prayers to incense. Compare this to Revelation 8:3-5, were we see an angel standing at the heavenly altar with a golden censer being given “much incense” to be offered “with the prayers of all saints upon the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, which came with the prayers of the saints, ascended up before God out the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer, and filled it with fire of the altar, and cast it into the earth.” This is Yom Kippur being fulfilled!

Look at this next comparison as well. Let’s go back to the Yom Kippur ceremony in Leviticus 16:16-17, where we find that there was to be no man in the tabernacle when the priest went in to make atonement until he has made atonement for himself, and for his house and the congregation of Israel as well. Then we find in Revelation 15:8 that the temple in heaven was filled with smoke from the glory of God and again, “no man was able to enter into the temple, till the seven plagues of the seven angels were fulfilled.” Every year on Yom Kippur the high priest would have to take off his regular garments and put on white linen garments, as mentioned in Leviticus 16. This is why religious Jews wear all-white garments every year on Yom Kippur, they realize white is symbolic of righteousness. Can you imagine having on all-white linen garments and being around the slaughtering of animals and then splashing their blood all over the altar?

Yom Kippur is known as the Day of Judgment, when the books and doors are closed and judgment is meted out. Well, what do we find in Revelation 19 but that God has “judged the great whore,” He has “avenged the blood of his servants,” and He is “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood” (vv. 2,13)? Then we find the armies that were in heaven following Him on white horses; they are all clothed in fine linen, white and clean, and all the nations of the world are smitten by God’s Word (vv. 14-15). These are all images of Yom Kippur! This is confirming that these events will happen according to the pattern at the appointed time in the future on Yom Kippur.

What about the Feast of Tabernacles? Of course it is in the Book of Revelation! This is the grand finale where the Creator of the universe once again tabernacles with His creation. In Revelation 21:3 we find John hearing “a great voice out of heaven, saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. “How exciting! Imagine, as God said in Ecclesiastes 3:1, there is a time and a season for everything done under the sun, and He has appointed specific times when He will intersect human history!

Based on this understanding I believe the prophetic events of the Feast of Trumpets will be fulfilled during the appointed calendar time for the Feast of Trumpets in some year.The same will happen for Yom Kippur and the Feast of Tabernacles!

People tell me that the feasts are all done away with, and they base it on two Scriptures that have been totally misinterpreted.

  • Howbeit then, when ye knew not God, ye did service unto them which by nature are no gods. But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. — GALATIANS 4:8-11, EMPHASIS ADDED
  • Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. — COLOSSIANS 2:16-17, EMPHASIS ADDED

Do you notice the change in the description of months compared to new moons and days to holy days? Paul is talking about two different calendars here! In Galatians he is referring to our pagan calendar, and in Colossians he obviously refers to the biblical calendar! We need to look at this in context to understand. In the first scripture Paul is talking to the Galatians. Who were they? Well, let’s go to the Book of Acts. In Acts 14:8-11 we learn of a man at Lystra who was “impotent in his feet,” meaning he had never walked. When he heard Paul tell him with a loud voice to stand up on his feet, he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying, “The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men.”

In verses 12-15 we learn “they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,” saying that they “should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein” (emphasis added).

So before the Galatians knew God, they were worshippers of the solar system and followed those gods. This is why Paul is asking why in the world, now that they know God and are aware of His calendar, they would go back to the weak and beggarly elements of worshipping the planets and following a pagan calendar.

In the next verses from Colossians 2:16, Paul is referring to the biblical calendar. He is basically congratulating them for staying on it and encouraging them not to let the Galatians judge them for keeping the feasts and the biblical calendar! The Colossians were the Galatians’ next-door neighbors. So he was telling them not to be deceived in the neglecting of God’s calendar.

I believe Paul was asking the “foolish Galatians” why in the world they would go back to a pagan calendar system when they had the biblical calendar. They could not have been returning to a biblical calendar they were never on. And he was telling the Colossians not to let anyone judge them because they were living according to the biblical calendar.

The festivals are shadows of things to come — not just a shadow of what has happened but a shadow of future events that are yet to come! Just as Moses’ tabernacle in the wilderness was a shadow of the heavenly tabernacle, just as the earthly Jerusalem is a shadow of the heavenly Jerusalem, over and over we see things on earth are shadows of what is to come. Even our earthly bodies are shadows of our heavenly bodies to come.

My goodness, if there were no shadow, how would anyone know there is a reality out there casting it! If you throw out the shadow, you have just blocked the little information we do have coming from heaven that is trying to help us! Not only that, but when the Bible declares we were “created in God’s image,” it is the same word that is used for God’s shadow! A shadow is not insignificant. Even you are God’s shadow; are you insignificant?

By Mark Biltz /

New Book: DECODING THE ANTICHRIST AND THE END TIMES (what the Bible says and what the furture holds)


The Autumn feasts of the LORD


The Calendar of Gods Appointed Times is His way of making sure we do not forget His benefits. We are a forgetful people but the Jewish calendar of cyclic festivals is God’s way of helping us remember history. So, what is the significance of the Autumn Biblical Feasts? Where do they come from and what is the message to us as believers?

Biblical Connections

For Israel the Autumn Feasts are not a one-day wonder. The Feasts of Trumpets is followed by Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement or Covering which culminates in Sukkot – the Feast of Booths or Tabernacles. It all starts on 1st Tishri (Beginnings). Tishri is the first month of the new civil year. The Jews certainly know how to celebrate. They have so much to be thankful for and have so much practice through the year. The key to the Jewish feasts was ‘regularly, generosity, purity.

God is a God of order and works to a timetable

Psalm 102:13 says “You will arise and have mercy on Zion; for the time to favour her, yes the set time has come.” Israel is restored physically but what about spiritually? God is working to a timetable and Romans 5:6 says, “In due time Christ died for the ungodly …“; 2 Corinthians 6:2Now is the time for salvation” and so Galatians 4:4 … in the fullness of time God sent His son.”

All the Feasts of the Lord are important

Leviticus 23 talks of the Feasts of the Lord. They are not Jewish Feasts or Feasts of Israel – but appointed times of the Lord. Time out to spend with Him. All seven form a timeline which tell the redemptive story of God’s dealings with Israel, Romans 11:17-25. We all need reminding because we so quickly forget.

Rosh Hasjana

First of the Autumn feasts celebrated as the Jewish new year. A common custom is to say “L’shanah tovah”, which means, “May it be a good year.” Another custom is to eat apples dipped in honey. The apples and honey represent God’s provision and sweetness that He will manifest to us in the coming year. We read about this feast (Yom T’rooah) in Leviticus 23:24 — “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, in the seventh month, on the first of the month (Tishri), you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of (shofars) trumpets.” The sounds of the shofar represent crying, and are intended to bring each individual toward deep introspection and repentance.

Yom Kippur

Second of the Autumn feasts is the holiest day of the year. We can read about this feast in Leviticus 16, 17 and 23:27. The High Priest would carry the blood of the bull and goat through the veil and into the Most Holy Place in the Tabernacle – the Holy of Holies. The High Priest of the Israelites would then poor the blood onto the altar over the Ark of the Covenant and, in doing so, make atonement for the children of Israel (Lev. 17:11).


Third of the Autumn feasts. This feast is a joyous and happy time of giving thanks to God for his provision. We read about this feast in Leviticus 23:34-42On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to the LORD … You shall thus celebrate it as a feast to the LORD … It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations … You shall live in booths for seven days.

How was thankfulness & fruitfulness to be expressed?

  1. Throughout the Bible in a life offered up to God. Ephesians 5:18-21.
  2. A life filled with the spirit of God instead of this world.
  3. One whose sacrificial offerings were meant to cost something – whose whole life was given as a living sacrifice to God, Romans 12:1.
  4. Offerings were to be perfect, the best, without blemish. Not our castoffs or things we do not need anymore but the very best.
  5. Living sacrifices were not dead – obviously!


Burnt offerings were required by the Law and 205/210 references to offerings and 535/547 refs to offering are Old Testament. But this repeated offering of animals was never going to take away sin Hebrew 10:11, but there would be someone who in his own blood offered himself for sin once and for all, Hebrew 9:28; 10:14. Hebrews contains much information about offerings and the limitation of offering for sin yet we are to be perpetual living sacrifices. What does that mean for earthly ambitions?

Features of the end times

Remembering God’s Promises and thankfulness will be a rare commodity in Last Days. Linked with ungratefulness and a people more concerned with rights than responsibilities. “For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy“, 2 Tim. 3:2.

The Autumn Feasts are about fruitfulness & thankfulness

A farmer who sows without expecting a large return isn’t much a farmer. Similarly, if he sows with few seed, he will quite naturally get a poor return. God wants us ” … to be fruitful in very good work.” Colossians 1:10, Hebrews 13:21. But what does this mean? “Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do,Deuteronomy 29:9; 23:6; 28:29. It is a declaration that God wants us to do be a truly ‘blessed’ people who have enough for our lives and enough left over to bless others. But we also need to sow carefully in accordance with the Word.


Vereniging van Jesjoea Hammasjiach Belijdende Joden


Day of Atonement / Yom Kippur / Peter Tsukahira



WHEN IT COMES to Matthew 24, every end-times enthusiast is all over it! It really does set the stage for coming events. Let’s look at Matthew 24 through the lens of what the disciples might have thinking based on their own history. We’ll see what it tells us about the coming of the Messiah. When we read this chapter, we need to keep in mind what the listeners of that day were thinking rather than superimposing our own present-day thoughts as we read it.

When we realize that history is always repeating itself, we will have a better understanding of what can be unpacked in this chapter. Don’t think of biblical prophecy as some kind of a checklist, where if it happened once, it won’t happen again. See it as a recurring theme happening over and over again but from different perspectives. The Bible says in Ecclesiastes 1, “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (v. 9).

Matthew 24 is actually about many of the events surrounding Hanukkah happening again! Did you know the New Testament even talks about Yeshua keeping Hanukkah? It’s another excellent example of a perceived bias in the translation. John 10 speaks of Yeshua being in the temple at the Feast of Dedication, and it was winter. The Hebrew word for dedication is Hanukkah! As a first century Jew, Yeshua kept all of the biblical feast every year, celebrating Hanukkah and Purim as well. Because of the very fact that He was Jewish and part of that culture, I don’t think it’s a leap at all to assume that John 10 is simply recording one of those times.

To understand the connection between Hanukkah and the end times in Matthew 24, we need to better understand the facts surrounding Hanukkah. It is a very biblical event — Daniel even prophesied that it would happen — and as the Scriptures state, “That which has been is that which shall be!” (See Ecclesiastes 1:9). I must first lay a foundation as to what happened during the original Hanukkah, around 168 BC, for those unfamiliar.

Imagine that you were one of Yeshua’s disciples. Put yourself right there with the rest of them. He is now talking to you two thousand years ago in Matthew 24. Hanukkah would be ringing in your ears as He spoke, and you would be wondering how it could ever happen again. To the disciples the events of Hanukkah were similar to our War of Independence; it even occurred about two hundred years earlier; which is roughly the same length of time from the signing of our own nation’s Declaration of Independence until today.

According to Josephus, in his work Antiquities of the Jews Book, we find that the site of the temple was found to be deserted, the gates were burnt down, plants were growing in the temple of their own accord, and they built a new altar and had to make new vessels. Josephus then goes on to say that the desolation of the temple came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel!

Let’s consider what Daniel saw in his vision: a ram with two horns (8:3). Then he “saw the ram pushing westward, and northward, and southward” and nobody “could deliver out of his hand” (v. 4). As he was considering it, a he-goat with a great horn between his eyes came from the west and struck the ram and broke its two horns.

We know from history that after the Babylonian Empire, the Medes and Persians, represented by the ram with two horns, took over (vv. 5-7). The he-goat represented de Greek Empire. Do you realize who the leader (the great horn) of the Greek Empire was? None other than Alexander the Great!

It says that the he-goat became “very great: and when he was strong, the great horn was broken.” And in its place “came up four notable ones toward the four winds of heaven” (v. 8). Students of history know that after Alexander the Great died, his kingdom was divided up among his four military leaders.

The Bible goes on to say that “out of one of them came forth a little horn, which waxed exceeding great, toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land…. He magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of the sanctuary was cast down” (vv. 9,11, emphasis added). This little horn that became great was none other than Antiochus Epiphanes, the very leader that the Hanukkah story revolves around!

We are now going to compare what happened historically at Hanukkah with Matthew 24. You can see the connection when you read from the historical book of the Maccabees. Remember, these events occurred over 150 years before Yeshua was born! From 1 Maccabees 1:10-15 you will find there were many Jews who transgressed the Torah and were seducing others to do the same. They even suggested making a covenant with Gentiles, thinking all the evils that had come upon them were caused by their separation from the Gentiles. Therefore, upon agreement they went to Antiochus Epiphanes and introduced the idea of the Gentiles building a gymnasium in Jerusalem.

This gymnasium was the location where athletes would practice for the Olympics going on in their day, and all the events were done without clothes on! The only problem was, now everyone knew who the Jewish ones among them were.

Matthew 24:5-7 talks of many being seduced and says there will be wars and rumors of wars, and nation will rise against nation. Hanukkah was the last major war Israel had fought. Matthew 24:10-12 speaks of people betraying each other and lawlessness increasing.

The book of Maccabees goes on to say how after defeating Egypt, Antiochus goes up against Jerusalem, enters the holy temple, and takes away the golden altar, the lampstand, the offering table, the censers, and even the curtain. It mentions how he shed much blood and spoke with great arrogance. The destruction of the temple had begun.

The book of Daniel tells of one coming who would speak with great arrogance. Matthew 24:9 speaks of many being put to death. Then came the turning point.

Here is what happened next: Similar to a one-world government, the king ordered that all people in his kingdom should abandon their own particular customs and be one people. The king prohibited all the Jews customs on penalty of death, forcing them to build pagan altars, sacrifice unclean animals, stop circumcising their children, and not keep the Sabbath in order to forget all the laws of God. Many Jews thought this lawlessness was great, and they joyfully sacrificed to idols. A royal decree put to death anyone who was found with a scroll of the covenant or followed the Torah!

In 1 Maccabees it goes on to explain that many Jews decided not to go along with this plan and to defy the orders even in the face of death. One story in particular is an example.

When officers in charge of enforcing the king’s orders came to a city known as Modein, they found many in the city were compliant with the king’s order. The officers asked a leading family of the city to set the example and be the first to sacrifice on the pagan altar. He told them they would be counted as friends of the king and would be showered with gifts. Mattathias and his sons came together and declared that even though everyone else was doing it, they would not forsake the Torah in the slightest degree or keep the king’s commands. Just as he finished speaking, a certain Jew announced that he would do the sacrifice, and Mattathias pounced on him and killed him as well as the king’s officer. He tore down the pagan altar and yelled out that those who wanted to continue obeying the Torah should flee with him. They stood up for God’s Word, then fled to the mountains, leaving all their possessions behind. This corresponds with Matthew 24:16-17.

The time of the Maccabees was also a very critical juncture in history for the Jewish people, as something unheard of took place that would never be forgotten. For the very first time in their history the Jewish people decided it as OK to defend their lives on the Sabbath. Look at how this unbelievable event took place.

  • Many hurried out after them, and having caught up with them, camped opposite and prepared to attack them on the sabbath. The pursuers said to them, “Enough of this! Come out and obey the king’s command, and you will live.” But they replied, “We will not come out. nor will we obey the king’s command to profane the sabbath.” Then the enemy attacked them at once. But they did not retaliate; they neither threw stones, nor blocked up their secret refuges. They said, “Let us all die in innocence; heaven and earth are our witnesses that you destroy us unjustly.” So the officers and soldiers attacked them on the sabbath, and they died with their wives, their children and their animals, to the number of a thousand persons. When Mattathias and his friends heard of it, they mourned deeply for them. They said to one another, “If we all do as our kindred have done, and do not fight against the Gentiles for our lives and our laws, they will soon destroy us from the earth.” So on that day they came to this decision: “Let us fight against anyone who attacks us on the sabbath, so that we may not all die as our kindred died in their secret refuges.” — 1 MACCABEES 2:32-41, NABRE, EMPHASIS ADDED

We read in Matthew 24:20, “Pray ye that your flight not be in the winter, neither on the Sabbath.” Hanukkah is in the winter, and look what happened on the Sabbath! Wow! Now we see how very biblical Hanukkah is; Hanukkah was actually a fulfillment of prophecy.

  • And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, many days.DANIEL 11:31-33, EMPHASIS ADDED

In Matthew 24:15-16 Yeshua tells them, “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) then let them which be in Judea flee into the mountains” (emphasis added).

This is the verse that Josephus was referring to when he wrote the following:

  • Now it so fell out, that these things were done on the very same day on which their divine worship had fallen off, and was reduced to a profane and common use, after three years’ time; for so it was, that the temple was made desolate by Antiochus, and so continued for three years…. This desolation came to pass according to the prophecy of Daniel, which was given four hundred and eight years before. — JOSEPHUS, ANTIQUITIES OF THE JEWS, BOOK 12, CHAPTER 7, EMPHASIS ADDED. [Flavius Josephus, The Works of Flavius Josephus, trans. William Whiston (n.p: The British Library, 1849), 268. Quote verified at]

Matthew 24:15-16 speaks of this abomination of desolation. When the disciples heard this, they got it! Hanukkah will happen again!! This is what happened historically and was recorded by Josephus as being fulfilled, so they understood that not only did what Daniel prophesied happen several hundred years before them, but also many of the events would be repeated again!! This goes back to the biblical mind-set as well as the Jewish mind-set that what happens to the fathers will happen to the children.

Many Christians put this verse into their end-times theology. If you follow the normal Greek mind-set — “It happened once, and it can’t happen again” — then you have real trouble with the fact that it has already happened. But if you have a Hebraic mind-set — “If it happened once, it is sure to happen again from another perspective” — then you will have no problem with what seems to be conflicting theology.

Hebrews 11, which we all know as the faith chapter, speaks of all those Jews who were filled with faith before Messiah ever came. The writer of Hebrews tells us of all those Jews “who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth lions. Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens” (vv. 33-34). It talks about others who “were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection” and how “they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth” (vv. 35-38, emphasis added).

This last part is precisely what happened at Hanukkah, as they hid in the caves and were slaughtered on the Sabbath. In reality, Hanukkah is very much a part of the fabric of the Bible. To understand how Hanukkah will happen again, we need to understand its dynamics.

Now let’s look at another very biblical holiday we find in the Book of Esther. We will see what we can glean from it concerning the end times and the soon coming of the Messiah in our time.

By Mark Biltz /


HONDERD/100- jaar na Weizmann-Feisal overeenkomst (1919)!

Na vierhonderd jaar Turkse overheersing (1517-1917), waarbij de provincie ‘Palestina’ als onderdeel van het Ottomaanse rijk min of meer aan haar lot was overgelaten en er amper bomen stonden, kwam er sinds 1917 een nieuwe bestuurder: Engeland. Aanvankelijk leek dat heel goed te gaan en het land toonde sympathie voor de zionisten die eind 19e eeuw mondjesmaat het land probeerde te herstellen door moerassen te dempen en bomen te planten.

In 1903 al, bood Engeland de Joden aan om hun nieuwe staat te stichten in Brits Oost Afrika (Oeganda). Theodor Herzl, die het eerste Zionistische congres had georganiseerd in 1897, had wel oren naar dit plan maar de meeste leden van de Zionistische beweging wilden dat ‘Palestina’ afgescheiden zou worden van Turkije en dat er een Joodse staat zou verrijzen in het aloude, aan de voorvaderen beloofde, land. Besprekingen tussen Chaim Weizmann (toen de voorzitter van de Zionistische wereldorganisatie) met dhr. Balfour en Lloyd George leidde uiteindelijk tot de Balfour-declaration waarin werd bevestigd dat er een nationaal tehuis voor het Joodse volk zou komen in ‘Palestina’. Tegelijkertijd kregen de Arabieren ook steun van Engeland om hun eigen onafhankelijkheid uit te breiden. Weizmann had in 1919 een historische ontmoeting met emir Feisal, een zoon van de Hasjemitische sharif van Mekka. Feisal zei zich te verheugen op de samenwerking tussen Joden en Arabieren en noemde de voorstellen van de Zionistische organisatie over de grenzen zelfs bescheiden en juist. Bij besluit van de opperste raad der geallieerden werd ‘Palestina’ in 1920 officieel als mandaatgebied aan Engeland toegewezen en werd dit land met de uitvoering van de verklaring belast.

Israëls recht op het land ligt vast in een aantal bindende documenten. Eerst is daar de resolutie die is aangenomen tijdens de San Remo conferentie die is gehouden van 19 tot 26 april 1920 door de eerste-ministers van Frankrijk (Mitterand), Groot Brittannië (Lloyd George) en Italië (Nitti) en Japanse, Griekse en Belgische afgevaardigden. In deze resolutie is de bewoording uit de Balfour-declaration overgenomen. Ook de 52 regeringen van de landen van de toenmalige Volkenbond (waarvan 25 Europese landen) erkenden tijdens een bijeenkomst op 24 juli 1922, op hun beurt het Britse Mandaat en de rechtmatigheid van de in de Balfour-declaration uitgedrukte beginselen waaronder de grenzen van het aan het Joodse volk toebedeelde gebied.

Met de Anglo-American Convention van 3 december 1924 respecteerden de Verenigde Staten, die geen deel uitmaakten van de Volkenbond, het Palestina-mandaat. ‘De San Remoresolutie, is bindend internationaal recht en is als deel van de boedel van de Volkenbond overgegaan naar zijn opvolger, de Verenigde Naties. De volle soevereiniteit over het land van Israël is daarbij aan het Joodse volk overgedragen. Na afloop van het mandaat blijven volgens volkenrechtelijke principes alle aan genoemde regelingen inherente rechten van het Joodse volk overeind.’

Evenzo geldt dat sinds de Anglo-American Convention, hoewel verlopen, de rechten van het Joodse volk ook door de VS moeten worden gerespecteerd. Tevens werd de Britten opgedragen “om zich alle moeite te getroosten om Joodse immigratie te stimuleren, om het land te bevolken en om het Joodse Nationale Thuis te garanderen.” Maar vanaf het begin hebben de Britten onder druk van het Arabische nationalisme, de bindende afspraken genegeerd en de immigratie van Arabieren naar het deel wat aan het Joodse volk was toegewezen, gestimuleerd. Reeds in 1922 werd het zgn. witboek van Churchill de draagwijdte van de Balfourdeclaratie beperkt; daarin wordt ontkend dat het de bedoeling was een uitsluitend Joods ‘Palestina’ op te richten. De Balfourdeclaratie werd uiteindelijk tot het in ‘t westen van de Jordaan gelegen gedeelte van ‘Palestina’ beperkt waardoor 80 procent van het aan Israël toegezegde land, volkomen illegaal, aan de Arabieren werd overgedragen.

Joodse immigratie kwam weliswaar gestaag op gang maar een opstand, georganiseerd door de Palestijn-Arabische Haj Amin al-Hoeeseini, leidde ertoe dat er een enorme breuk ontstond tussen de twee ‘nevenvolkeren.’ Haj Amin liet Joden aanvallen die bij de Westelijke Muur in Jeruzalem wilden bidden. Toen kwam ook de dubbelrol die Engeland speelde aan het licht. In plaats van deze man in het gevang te gooien, kreeg hij van de Engelsen o.a. de machtige positie van Moefti over Jeruzalem. Hij zorgde ervoor dat alle afspraken tussen Arabieren en Joden teniet gedaan werden.

Het niet eerbiedigen door de Britten van de bindende resoluties, heeft de Arabische moslims alle gelegenheid gegeven om Israëls legale recht op het land te bestrijden. Met hulp van historische leugens en met hulp van buitenaf, waaronder Europa, dat zo plechtig de resolutie van de Volkenbond had aanvaard, probeerden/proberen ze het bestaan van Israël uit te wissen.

Er bestaat geen enkele juridische grond, ook niet in het internationale (humanitaire) recht, waardoor Israël verplicht is de, eenmaal aan het Joodse volk toegekende, politieke en nationale rechten op te geven. Stichting van een ‘Palestijnse staat,’ gebaseerd op VN-resoluties is volledig in strijd met vroegere bindende documenten. Het is volkomen absurd en illegaal dat men van Israël eist dat het nogmaals een deel van de overgebleven 20 procent dient af te staan aan een door de wereld gecreëerd volk, dat geen enkel historisch recht op het land heeft en dat zelfs haar vernietiging nastreeft! ‘EuroBabel‘ draagt verantwoordelijkheid voor eerder gemaakte afspraken, die in het verleden in Volkenbondverband verricht hebben: bekrachtiging van het Palestina-mandaat. Ook de rest van de wereld negeert de bindende afspraken, en doet net of ze niet meer bestaan. Zij noemen de Bijbelse gebieden Samaria en Judea ‘de Westoever’ of ‘de Palestijnse gebieden’ en verkondigen massaal de leugen dat Israël deze gebieden bezet houdt.

In 1909 stichtte men de stad Tel-Aviv. Tussen de Eerste en de Tweede Wereldoorlog trokken arme Arabieren uit de omringende landen het toenmalige ‘Palestina’ binnen, aangetrokken door de welvaart die de komst van de Joden naar het Beloofde Land in die streken had gebracht. In Jaffa hebben zich in die tijd Arabieren uit niet minder dan vijftien Arabische landen gevestigd. Sinds de Oslo-Akkoorden in 1991 hebben zich tienduizenden Arabieren uit Jordanië, Egypte, Irak en andere Arabische landen in de Bijbelse gebieden Samaria en Judea gevestigd en daar vele nederzettingen gebouwd.

Honderd jaar na de Weizmann-Feisal ontmoeting zien we maar deels verbeteringen in de relatie tussen de twee ‘nevenvolkeren.’ Als Israël maar iets aankondigt wat de Arabieren niet zint, zoals de opmerking van de Premier Netanyahu dat hij eraan zou willen werken om allereerst de Jordaanvallei te annexeren, dan schreeuwt heel de Arabische wereld moord en brand, het lijken wel de uitlopers van de haatzaaierij van Haj Amin. Deze Moefti heeft overigens in de jaren ’40 ook een ontmoeting met Hitler gehad om te spreken over de vernietiging van het Joodse volk in voormalig ‘Palestina.’

Gelukkig werden de Duitsers ook verslagen in het Midden-Oosten en kwamen zij ‘Palestina’ niet binnen: Het volk Israël leeft, Am Yisrael Chai en het Land is nu voor een aanzienlijk deel terug in handen van hen aan wie het door de God van Israël beloofd is. Hoe dan ook … op een dag … zal de Messiaanse Koning van Israël, Jehoshua, regeren vanuit Jeruzalem over heel de aarde en zullen er nergens op aarde andere goden gediend worden, dus zeker niet in het aloude Harteland van het huidige Israël, Samaria en Judea.

Uit: TijdStip / Sukkoth 5780/Oktober 2019, 10e jaargang, nr. 1 / Uitgave van Studiehuis Reshiet, Israël /


Weg uit Babylon:

Het Bloed Schreeuwt Uit De Aarde” — De hartverscheurende geschiedenis van eeuwenlange Jodenvervolging in christelijk Europa en Gods antwoord hierop. / Bestel op:





Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 19:53
Sep 192019

We have seen the great truths [The book: The WITNESS of the STARS / Het Getuigenis van de Sterren / ] which are taught from the position, and forms, and names of the heavenly bodies. There are also truths to be learnt from their motions.

When God created them and set them in the firmament of heaven, He said, in Gen. 1:14:

  • ‘Let them be for signs and for seasons’

Here the word “signs” is othoth (plural of oth, from the root atah, to come). Hence, a sign of something or some One to come. In Jer. 10:2 Jehovah says, “And be not dismayed at the signs (oemeeotot) of the heavens, for the heathen are dismayed at them.”

The word “seasons” does not denote merely what we call the four seasons of the year, but cycles of time. It is appointed time (mo-eed from verb ja-ad, to point out, appoint). It occurs three more times in Genesis, each time in connection with the promised Seed:

  • Gen. 17:21 ‘At this set time in the next year.’
  • Gen. 18:14 ‘ At the time appointed I will return.’
  • Gen. 21:2 ‘At the set time of which God had spoken.’

Gen. 1:14 is therefore, “They (the sun, moon, and stars) shall be for signs (things to come) and for cycles (appointed times).”

Here, then, we have a distinct declaration from God, that the heavens contain not only a Revelation concerning things to come in the “Signs,” but also concerning appointed times in the wondrous movements of the sun, and moon, and stars.

The motions of the sun and moon are so arranged that at the end of a given interval of time they return into almost precisely the same positions, with regard to each other and to the earth, as they held at the beginning of that interval. “Almost precisely,” but not quite precisely. There will be a slight outstanding difference, which will gradually increase in successive intervals, and finally destroy the possibility of the combination recurring, or else lead to combinations of a different character.

Thus the daily difference between the movement of the sun and of the stars leads the sun back very nearly to conjuntion with the same star as it was twelve months earlier, and gives us the cycle of the year. The slight difference in the sun’s position relative to the stars at the end of the year, finally leads the sun back to the same star at the same time of the year, viz., at the spring equinox, and gives us the great precessional cycle of 25,800 years.

So, too, with eclipses. Since the circumstances of any given eclipse are reproduced almost exactly 18 years and 11 days later, this period is called an Eclipse Cycle, to which the ancient astronomers gave the name of Saros [{General Vallancey spells Saros, which amounts to 666 by Gematria: Viz., Sjien=300 + Ajin = 70 + Reesj = 200 + Waw = 6 + Tsadie = 90 = 666}]; and eclipses separated from each other by an exact cycle, and, therefore, corresponding closely in their conditions, are spoken of as being one and the same eclipse. Each Saros contains, on the average, about 70 eclipses. Of these, on the average, 42 are solar and 28 are lunar. Since the Saros is 11 days (or, more correctly, 10˚96 days) longer than 18 years, the successive recurrences of each eclipse fall 11 days later in the year each time, and in 33 Sari will have travelled on through the year and come rond very nearly to the original date.

But as the Saros does not reproduce the conditions of an eclipse with absolute exactness, and as the difference increases with every successive return, a time comes when the return of the Saros fails to bring about an eclipse at all. If the eclipse be a solar one before this takes place, a new eclipse begins to form a month later in the year than the old one, and becomes the first eclipse of a new series.

This is the history of one such eclipse: On May 15 (Julian), 850 A.D., there was a (new) eclipse of the sun, and it occurred as a partial eclipse. On August 20 (Julian), 1012 A.D., this new eclipse became total. From that time it has been an annular eclipse, the latitude of the central shadow gradually shifting southward from the north, until on December 17 (Julian), 1210, it had reached N. Lat. 24˚. It turned northward again after 1210, until March 14 (Julian), 1355, when it fell in N. Lat. 43˚. Then it turned south, and has moved steadily in that direction, until on March 18 (Greg.), 1950, its last appearance as an annular eclipse will take place. On May 22 (Greg.), 2058, it will fall so far from the node at a new eclipse will follow it on 21 June. It will make three more appearances as an ever – diminishing partial eclipse, and be last seen on June (Greg.), 2112. Its total life-history, therefore, will have seen 1,262 years and 36 days, and will have occupied 70 Sari.

In the above life-history of an eclipse [{These facts are kindly supplied by Mr. E.W. Maunder, of the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, who gives another example, as follows: — In A.D. 586 there were two solar eclipses: on June 22 (Julian) the old and dying eclipse, and on 22 (Julian) another (the new one). A Saros (viz. 18 years and 11 days) earlier there was only one, viz. on June 11 (Julian), A.D. 568, there being no eclipse on July 11 of that year. The last appearance of this new eclipse, which first appeared on July 22, 586, was on August 28 (Greg.), 1848, so that it had a life history of 70 Sari, amounting to 1,262 years 36 days (after the Julian dates have been corrected to correspond to the Gregorian). Thus the eclipse that died, so to speak, on August 28 (Greg.), 1848, first appeared on July 22 (Julian) in A.D. 586. See an important article on Eclipses by Mr. E.W. Maunder in Knowledge, for October 1893, where other life-histories of eclipses are given, and the whole subject of eclipses clearly explained.}]there is not the slightest difficulty as to its identification. The Saros shows no break, and no interruption; nor does the character of the eclipse suffer any abrupt change. The district over which it is visible moves in a slow and orderly fashion from occurrence to occurrence over the earth’s surface.

Now the important point is this, that if we take the prophetic reckoning of 360 days to the year, we have the following significant Biblical numbers: — In the first place, we already have the 70 Sari divided into two portions of 33 + 37. A perfect cycle is accomplished in 33 Sari, or 595 years, when the eclipse, by a series of unbroken Sari, has accomplished a passage through the year of 360 days; or, if we reckon only the whole numbers, i.e., the 18 completed years, we have for the 33 Sari the period of 594 years, while the remaining portion of 37 Sari makes 666 years (37×18); and the whole 70 Sari makes 1,260 years (594 + 666). [{The relations between 595 years and 1,262 years 36 days, are the same as the relations between 594 years and 1,260 years. The difference of the 2 years 36 days is due to the excess of 10˚96 days over the 18 completed in each Saros.}].

We have then the following figures: —

  • 18 x 33 = 594 years.
  • 18 x 37 = 666 years.
  • 18 x 70 = 1260 years.

Independently of this, we also know that 1,260 years is a soli-lunar cycle, so exact that its epact, or difference, is only 6 hours!

There must, therefore, be something significant in these numbers, e.g., 70; in the number 1,260, with its divisions, not into two equal parts, but into 594 and 666; as also in its double, 2,520.

There must be something to be learned in the occurrences and repetition of these heavenly cycles, which for nearly 6,000 years have been constantly repeated in the heavens, especially when we find these same numbers very prominently presented in the Word of God in connection with the fulfillment of prophecy.

We have the great “seven times” (2,520) connected with the duration of Israel’s punishment, and the Gentiles’ power. We have in Daniel and the Apocalypse the half of this great period presented as “days” (1,260), as “months” (42), and as “times” or years (3,5).

Futurists believe that these “days” and “months,” etc., interpret for us the purposes and counsels of God as connected with “the time of the end,” and as meaning literal “days” and “months,” etc.

Historicists take these terms and themselves interpret the numbers, in the sense of a “day” being put for a year, and they believe that these “1,260 days” will be fulfilled as 1,260 years.

One party boldly and ungraciously charges the other with teaching “The Fallacies of Futurism“; while the other might well retort with a reference to the Heresies of Historicism.

But is there any necessity for the existence of two hostile camps? It is not possible that there may be what we may call a long fulfillment in years? And is it not more than probable that in the time of the end, the crisis, there will be also a short and literal fulfillment in days?

We firmly believe that there will be this literal and short fulfillment. We believe that when God says “days,” He means days; and that when He says “42 months,” He means months, and not 1,260 years. In all the passages referred to by historicists in support of what is called “the year-day theory,” the Holy Spirit uses these words “days” and “years” in the sense of days and years. In the two particular instances of Israel’s wanderings (Num. 14:34), and Ezekiel’s prophesying (Ezek. 4:6), He chooses to take the number of days as denoting the same number of years; but He does not tell us that we are to do the same in other cases! He only asserts His sovereignty by thus acting, while we only show our presumption in taking His sovereign act as a general principle.

But while fully believing in the short fulfillment, we are quite prepared to admit that there may be a long fulfillment as well; and that, owing to the wondrous harmony, and marvelous correspondence, and infinite wisdom of all the works and ways of God, there may be a fulfillment, or rather a “filment,” if we may coin the word, in years, which will be only a foreshadowing of the literal ful-filment afterwards to take place in days.

If historicist will allow us this liberty as to interpretation, and permit us to believe that God means what He says, we will give them some remarkable evidence in support oft heir views, by way of application. In other words, if they will allow us to interpret “days” as meaning days, we will gladly allow them, and be at one with them, in applying them to years. So that while we believe the interpretation to mean “days,” and to teach a short fulfillment at the time of the end, we will thankfully admit an application which shall take these days as foreshowing a long fulfillment in years.

In applying, then, these significant numbers (42, 70, 594, 666, 1,260, and 2,520) to years, from what point or date shall we begin to reckon the “times of the Gentiles” (Luke 21:24)? That there are such definite “times” the words of the Lord Jesus show, when He says, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24). That there are “seven times” of Gentile dominion is more than intimated by the symbolic episode in the life of Nebuchadnezzar as recorded in Dan. 4; and that there are “seven times” of Israel’s punishment is clearly stated in Lev. 26:18. “Seven times,” according to the Historicist school of interpreters, are equal to 2,520 years.

Instead of asking where they begin, let us first note the fact that it is duration which is emphasised in the Scriptures rather than chronology; and loot at the duration of these years independently of, and before we attempt to fix, their beginning and ending.

In Daniel 2 and 7 it is shown first to Nebuchadnezzar in a “dream,” and afterwards to God’s servant the prophet in a “vision,” that Israel was to be put on one side and become “Lo-Ammi” (not My people), while government was to be put into the hands of the Gentiles. Jerusalem was the central point of both these great and solemn facts. That is to say, during 2,520 years, while Jerusalem should remain in the power of the Gentiles, Israel could be “no more a nation” in possession of their land and city.

We know, as a matter of fact, that to-day Jerusalem is in the hands of the Turks, and that it is still “trodden down of the Gentiles.”

If we ask how long it shall continue to be “trodden down”? how long it will be before Israel shall again possess their city and their land? — the answer brings us at once to the heart of our subject.

In seeking to determine both duration and chronology, it is necessary to plant our feet on sure ground. To do this, let us take a point on which all are agreed. There is one date which is universally accepted; and concerning which the evidence is unquestioned.

ABU OBEIDA, the Mahommedan General, laid siege to Jerusalem towards the close of 636 A.D. The City was then occupied by the Romans, who held out for four months. When they capitulated, the Patriarch SOPHRONIUS obtained a clause in the treaty giving security to the inhabitants, and requiring the ratification of OMAR himself. OMAR, who had therefore to be sent for, arrived some six months afterwards, and delay caused the actual delivering up of the city to take place early in the autumn of A.D. 637. [This is the date which concerns only the City of Jerusalem. The Romans were not completely driven out from the land until Caesarea had fallen in 638, when the conquest was finally completed. See Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.].

The year A.D. 636-7 is therefore the accepted date of the passing over of Jerusalem from the Romans to the Turks.

OMAR seems to have stayed in the city only about ten days, during which he must have given his instructions for the erection of the Mosque on the site of the Temple. This Mosque, therefore, stands as the sign and the symbol of the treading down of Jerusalem, and while it remains, those times of treading down cannot be considered as fulfilled.

How steady was Israel’s decadence from Nebuchadnezzar to OMAR! Nothing could exceed that darkest moment in Israel’s history, when Israel was well nigh obliterated in the mighty struggles of her enemies who fought over her inheritance. Thus OMAR becomes the great central point of the 2,520 years, whether reckoned as Lunar, Zodiacal, or Solar, dividing them equally into two portions of 1,260 years. [{This dat 637-7 is a great and important central date, whether we reckon backwards or forwards; whether we reckon them as Lunar, Zodiacal (360 days), or Solar (365 days) years. If we take Lunar years (=1222,5 Solar) — reckoning backward, we get to 587 B.C., the very date of the destruction of the Temple by Nebuchadnezzar; reckoning forward, we get to 1860 A.D., the very date of the European intervention in the Lebanon, which has brought the Eastern Question into its present prominent position. If we take Zodiacal years (=1242 Solar) — reckoning backward we get to 608 B.C., the date of the battle of Carchemish (2 Chron. 35:20), when Babylon completed the conquest of Assyria, and became supreme; utterly shattering all the hope which Israel had in Egypt; reckoning forward bring us to 1879 A.D., when, by the Treaty of Berlin, Ottoman power received a blow from which it has never recovered, and which has prepared the way for its extinction. If we take Solar years, then — reckoning backward, we get to B.C. 624 (A.M 3376), the beginning of the Babylonian kingdom, the “head of gold;” reckoning forward we get to 1896-7 A.D., which is yet future. These reckonings in their beginnings and endings form an introversion, or Epanodos, thus: — 587 – 608 – 624 B.C. dates increasing. 1860 – 1879 – 1896-7 A.D. dates increasing. The Solar reckonings are the more important dates; the Lunar are next in significance; while Zodiacal reckonings furnish us with dates which, to say the least, fit neatly into their places.}]

Having thus fixed the central date, which already points forward to the end, let us go back and find the starting point, that we may the better understand the end.

When Daniel was explaining to Nebuchadnezzar his mysterious dream, he said, “Thou art this head of gold”! (Dan. 2:38). This moment is popularly, but erroneously, supposed to mark the commencement of the Babylonian kingdom — the first of these four great Gentile powers.

But Daniel spoke of what ALREADY existed, and was explaining the ten condition of things. He said, “God hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory” (Dan. 2:37). The kingdom of Babylon had already been in existence for more than thirty years, for its king had destroyed Jerusalem and burnt the Temple with fire, and brought away many captives, amongst whom was Daniel and his companions. The opening words of the book make this very clear.

The monumental history of Babylon, as now dug up, shows that before this it had been sometimes tributary to, and sometimes almost independent of, Assyria. In A.M 3352, after a severe struggle with Assurbanipal, the Assyrian king, Babylon was once more subdued, and its king setting fire to his palace perished in the flames. After that there was peace for twenty-two years, during which time Kandalanu governed Babylon in succession to Sumas-sum-ukin a son of Assurbanipal.

In A.M. 3375 (i.e B.C. 627), [{These dates are those furnished by the Monuments, as given by Dr. Budge, of the British Museum, in his Babylonian Life and History, R.T.S., 1885. They also agree with the dates dug up by Sir Henry Rawlinson in 1862, consisting of fragments of seven copies of the famous “Eponym Canon of Assyria,” by which the Assyrian chronology has been definitely settled. Before this, historians had to be content with inferences and conjectures.}] another revolt broke out, and the Assyrian king sent a general of great ability to quell it. His name was Nabu-pal-user (which means Nebo protects his son). He put down the rebellion with so much skill that Assurbanipal made him governor of Babylon. He shortly afterwards, in A.M 3376, himself rebelled, and made himself King of Babylon. Associating with him his son Nebuchadnezzar, they commenced a campaign against Assurbanipal, which ended in the fall of Nineveh and the complete subjugation of Assyria. The kingdom of Babylon, thus commencing in B.C. 625, [{In adjusting the A.M. and B.C. dates, the latter are always apparently one year in advance of the former, because B.C. 4000 was A.M. 1, and B.C. 3999 was A.M 2. Hence A.M 3376 is not B.C. 624, but it is B.C. 625.}] became the first great Gentile kingdom as foretold in Daniel.

There is practically no question, now, as to this date.

The actual duration of the three kingdoms that followed — Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, may not perhaps be so accurately determined. Their total duration is known, because it is fixed by a known date at the other end, but it might introduce controversial matter if we attempted to assign to them their exact relative duration. Probably they were, roughly: — Babylon about 90 years; Medo-Persia about 200 years; Greece about 304 years.

We believe these to be fairly proportionate, [{Cyrus took Babylon, according to the Monuments, in the 17th year of Nabonidus, B.C. 539. I Maccabees 1 begins the first of Alexander from the death of Darius Codomannus in A.M. 3672. This would slightly vary the above distribution of the years of separate duration.}] but whether they are or not, their total amount must have been 594 years, because the undisputed date of the battle of ACTIUM, by which Augustus became the head of the Roman Empire, was September B.C. 31.

From this date Jerusalem passed permanently under the power of Rome until the Mahommedan conquest in A.D. 636-7.

We have, therefore, three fixed dates, and these decide for us the duration of the intervening periods; dividing them into the two great Eclipse Cycles of 594 years and 666 years!

Jerusalem under the Gentiles.

Babylon (the 1st Kingdom) commenced (Fixed date) B.C. 625 – Battle of Actium, ending the possession of the 3rd Kingdom (Fixed date) B.C. 31.

Duration of the three Kingdoms, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, together (1st Eclipse Cycle) – (Duration of Years 594).

Rome (the 4th Kingdom) became the possessor of Jerusalem (Fixed date) B.C. 31. Mahommedan conquest of Jerusalem, ending the possession of Rome (Fixed date) A.D. 636.

Duration of Rome’s possession of Jerusalem (2nd Eclipse Cycle) – (Duration of Years 666).


Date of Mahommedan conquest of Jerusalem (Fixed date) A.D. 636-7.

SECOND HALF OF “THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES” and Duration of Mahommedan possession of Jerusalem — 1260 years.

End and “fulness” of “the times of the Gentiles” A.D. 1896-7 (2,520 years of 7 x 360 years) / Lev. 26:18 / “Seven Times”.

[{In passing from B.C. dates to A.D. dates, one year must always be deducted, e.g., from B.C. 2 to A.D. 2 is only three years, not four! Thus — From Jan. 1 B.C. 2 to Jan. 1 B.C. 1 is one year / From Jan. 1 B.C. 1 to Jan. 1 A.D. 1 is one year / From Jan. 1 A.D. 1 to Jan. 1 A.D. 2 is one year (making only three years.). Hence, B.C. 31 to A.D. 636 is 666 years, not 667.}]

From this it appears that 1896-7 A.D. would mark an important year in connection with the “times of the Gentiles.”

The above reckoning has the following advantages over all previous historicist interpretations: —

  1. Controverted dates are excluded.
  2. The whole period of 2520 years is dealt with instead of only the latter half (1260), as is usually the case.
  3. It confines these “times” to the one place where the Lord Himself put them, viz., “JERUSALEM.” He said, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, till the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”

These “times,” therefore, are confined to Jerusalem. This “treading down” is confined to Jerusalem. It is not the city of Rome that is to be trodden down for 1260 years. Why, then, should these “times” be separated from what is characteristic of their duration, and applied to Rome, papal or imperial? Why should historicists search for some act of emperors or popes in the early part of the seventh century in order to add it to 1260, so as to find some terminal date in or near our own times! [{While the premisses of the Historicist school are thus strengthened, their conclusions are shown to be erroneous.}]

We claim that the Lord Himself has joined these “times of the Gentiles” with the city of “Jerusalem,” and we say, “What, therefore, God hath joined together, let not man put asunder” (Matt. 19:6).

When Jesus spoke of this treading down, it looks as though it were then still future; for He said, “Jerusalem shall be trodden down,” etc. The occupation of Jerusalem by Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, and Rome, was for purposes of government rather than for a wanton treading down. Government on the earth was committed unto them. But when Jerusalem passed from the government of the Roman Empire into the hands of the Turks, it could then be said, in a very special sense, to be “trodden down.” For of any government worthy of the name there has been none; and of desolation and desecration the city has been full. Under the feeble rule of the Turks, all the Gentiles seem to have combined in laying waste the holy city.

Though Jews are returning thither in ever-increasing numbers, they are only strangers there. They have as yet no independent position, nor can they make any treaties. But when these “times” shall end, it means that they will have a position of sufficient independence to be able to make a treaty or league with the coming Prince (Dan. 9:27); and then the course of events will bring on another treading down of 1260 literal “days,” which will thus have had a fore-shadowing fulfillment in years! This is written in Rev. 11:2. And to save us from any misunderstanding, the time is given, not in days, but in “months.”

The angel, after directing John to measure the Temple of God and the altar, adds, “but the court which is without the Temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles; and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.”

This refers to a future treading down, which will be limited to the brief period of “forty two” literal “months,” during the time of the coming Prince; and “in the midst” of the last week, when he shall break His covenant with the Jews, [{And cause sacrifice and oblation to cease (Dan. 9:27). We know that is referred, by historicists, to the Messiah. But they are not entitled to so interpret this passage unless they take with it Dan. 8:11; 11:31; 12:11, where the same event is distinctly referred to, and is spoken, not of Christ, but of Antichrist.}] set up the “abomination of desolation” (Dan. 9:27; which is still future in Matt. 24:15), and “tread down the holy city.”

We now desire to specially emphasize the fact that all these dates, and their termination in a rapidly approaching fulfillment, refer ONLY TO JERUSALEM, AND THE GENTILES, AND THE JEWS! They refer only to the end of the Gentile possession of Jerusalem, and to the settlement of the Jews in their own city and land.

These “times and seasons” have nothing whatever to do with “the Church of God” (1 Thess. 5:1). The mystical Body of Christ, whenever its members are complete, “will be taken up to meet the Lord — the Head of the Body — in the air, so to be ever with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4:15-17; Col. 3:4). This glorious event has nothing to do with any earthly sign or circumstance, so far as the members of this mystical Body are concerned.

Therefore we are not dealing here with the coming of the Lord; either for His saints, or with them. We are not referring to what is commonly and erroneously called “the end of the world.” We are merely pointing out that the end of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem is drawing near! And we cannot close our eyes to the marvellous manner in which the veil is being removed from Jewish hearts: to the change which has come over the Jewish nation in its attitude towards Christ and Christianity, chiefly, under God, through the unparalleled circulation of more than a quarter of a million copies of a new translation of the New Testament into Hebrew, by the late Isaac Salkinson, published by the Trinitarian Bible Society, and freely distributed by the Mildmay Mission to the Jews: to the Palestine literature which has sprung up amongst the Jews in recent years: to the persecution in various countries which are stirring their nest, and setting the nation in motion: to the organized emigration to Argentina, which is promoters avowedly speak as “a nursery ground for Palestine” (Daily Graphic, March 10th, 1892): to the railways completed and in course of construction in the Holy Land: to the numerous Societies and their branches which have permeated the whole nation, which, while having various names, have only one object — “the colonisation of Palestine.”

When we put these events side by side with the reaching of the heavens as to the “cycles” or appointed times, we are merely showing how wonderfully they agree with what is written in the Book, and witnessed to by great and uncontested historic dates.

Nor are we absolutely naming a definite year or day even for these Palestine events. After all, they can be only approximate, for man has so misused every gift that God has ever given him, that even with such wondrous heavenly time-keepers he cannot really tell you what year it is! And, besides this loss of reckoning, there is confusion as to the commencement of the A.D. era, which makes absolute accuracy between the A.M., B.C., and A.D. dates impossible.

Added to this, there is another point to be borne in mind, viz., that when the “times of the Gentiles” shall end, Jewish independence need not be either immediate or complete!

For when Nebuchadnezzar began his kingdom of Babylon in A.M. 3376 (B.C. 625), the Jews, though in their land and city, were not independent. Nebuchadnezzar went to and fro to Jerusalem, and put down and set up whom he would; and it was not till some thirty years afterwards that he destroyed the City and Temple and made the people captives.

So, likewise, in the time of the end, there may be an epanodos. They may be a similar period of possession without independence, a quasi-independence guaranteed by the Great Powers, and, for ought we know, it may be that, in order to gain complete independence, they may intimately make that fatal league with the coming Prince.

So that while we name the dates 1896-7 as being significant, we are not “fixing dates” in the ordinary sense of the term, but merely pointing out some of “the signs of the times,” concerning which we ought not to be ignorant.

The true interpretation will in any case still remain, and will surely be literally fulfilled in its own time. The Word of God will be vindicated; its prophetic truth will be verified; God Himself will be glorified; and His people saved with an everlasting salvation.

Meanwhile the members of His body will “wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, even Jesus (Yeshua), which delivered us from the wrath to come” (1 Thess. 1:10). They will live “looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people (R.V., a people for His own possession) zealous of good works” (Titus 2:13,14). They will “look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ,” from heaven, believing that there is no hope either for “the Jew, the Gentile, or the Church of God,” or for a groaning creation, until “the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; and He shall send Jesus Christ, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of ALL HIS HOLY PROPHETS SINCE THE WORLD BEGAN” (Acts 3:19-21).

By E.W. Bullinger / The Witness of the Stars. *


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Dagelijks internationaal nieuws uit ISRAEL: Van Wim Jongman in de nieuwsbief!


Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 15:51
Aug 082019
The Holy Scriptures

The Completeness of Christ in Type and Shadow in the Old Testament …


The dating of this prophecy is unknown. We know practically nothing of the prophet, other than, just as Hosea was sent to Israel, Joel was sent to Judah.

We do know that his father’s name was Pethuel.

In Joel 1:1 we also read: ‘The word of the Lord that came to Joel the son of Pethuel.’ This gives the writing its divine authority.

Another interesting thing regarding this name is, Joel – Jehovah (is) God (Companian Bible – Joel – The Lord is God (Dr. David Jeremiah).

The various titles given to Joel by these authorities, point to the strength of his name. In verse 4 of Joel 1, there are four types of locusts mentioned, according to Rev. S.L. Warren M.A. there are ninety different types of locusts. In Exodus 10:3-19 we get some idea of the destructive power of this insect. The destruction they brought on Egypt was total.

If we compare Joel 2:4-11 with Revelation 9:7-10, we get a further description, not only of how devastating this insect can be, but also of its appearance. Having consulted various authorities, we get a diversity of views regarding their appearance and none of them are appealing.

The theme of this book is repentance. Five times we get the phrase ‘The day of the Lord’ (Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14) always signifying judgment.

The following references in Joel’s prophecy, are a clear indication of the coming judgment of Israel. ‘The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining: And the LORD shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong and executeth his word: for the day of the LORD is great and very terrible; who can abide it?’ (Joel 2:10,11).

  • ‘The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of the LORD come.’ (Joel 2:31).
  • ‘The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD wil be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.’ (Joel 3:15,16).

In the midst of all these terrible events, we get the wonderful promise to Israel, that the Lord will be the hope and strength of his people. The little word ‘but’, is such an important word in the Scriptures, that it is a study in itself.

As we read Joel 2:28-32, we see the need to apply the principle of Right Division. In Acts 2:17-21 Peter quotes this prophecy of Joel. Dr. Bullinger points out that, ‘Had the nation repented at the summons of Peter in Acts 2:18-26 then Joel 2:30-32 would have come to pass’. Hence the need to Rightly Divided the Scriptures. See App. 183 of the Companion Bible. /

Paul also quotes Joel in Romans e.g. ‘And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered … ‘ (Joel 2:32). ‘For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ (Romans 10:13).

In Joel 3:10 we read: ‘Beat your ploughshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears … ‘. It is interesting to compare this prophecy with the writings of Isaiah 2:4; Hosea 2:18 and Micha 4:3.

  • ‘ … And they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruninghooks … ‘ (Isaiah 2:4). ‘ … and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely’ (Hosea 2:18). ‘ … and they shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn was anymore.’ (Micah 4:3).

Joel’s prophecy precedes the other three prophecies. The Lords victory had been achieved and peace was reigning.

In Joel 3:17 we read ‘ … I am the Lord your God … ‘, Elohim the name associated with the Creator. ‘In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth’ (Genesis 1:1).

Contrary to modern teaching we have here a Creator, the alternative is the principle of evolution. A theory which cannot be proved, in fact, the evidence they build this theory on is badly flawed and unscriptural. As Christians we do not look at the writings of man, but to the Truth of Scripture.

The question can be asked, who was the Creator? John in chapter 1 supplies us with the answer. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.’ (John 1:1:3).

The Colossian epistle is specific as to Who was the Creator. ‘In Whom we have redemption through His (Christ’s) blood, even the forgiveness of sins. Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him.’ (Col. 1:14-16).

This is obviously the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the last two verses in the book of Joel, we see the justice of God. There is only one who can administer justice fairly and without bias, we know from the Scriptures who that one is: ‘ … for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give an account of himself to God.’ (Romans 14:10-12).

  • ‘That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things on earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.’ (Philippians 2:10,11).

What a blessing to know, that man’s flawed judgment will be no more, but Christ Himself, the righteous judge, will administer all judgment.

There will be no one who will escape His judgments. A believer will not stand before Christ regarding eternal life, that has already been settled by Christ, by His death and resurrection, but we will stand before Him regarding our walk.

Alan Schofield



The name Amos means Burden Bearer.

Although from Judah, Amos prophesied in the Northern Kingdom. His occupation was a shepherd before his call to prophesy.

‘The words of Amos, who was among the herdmen of Tekoa … ‘ Amos 1:1. ‘Then answered Amos and said to Amaziah, I was no prophet, neither’s was I a prophet’s son; but I was a herdman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit.’ (Amos 7:14).

As Dr. Bullinger points out, ‘Prophets were not hereditary as priests were’. To prophesy was a calling, similar to a preacher today (how important it is to be called to minister the Word of God).

We are also told Amos was ‘A gatherer of sycamore fruit’. In the Alphabetical Analysis Part 8, Mr. Welch says, ‘Apparently the fruit of the sycamore does not ripen until it is rubbed with iron combs, after which rubbing it ripens in four days. The point that Amos seems to make here and which has a typical teaching, is that Israel, like the sycamore, will not bear fruit apart from great tribulation’.

The tone of the prophecy can be seen in Chapter 1 of Amos. ‘And he said, the LORD will roar from Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the habitations of the shepherds shall mourn and the top of the Carmel shall wither’ (Amos 1:2). The same wording can be found in Joel ‘The Lord also shall roar out of Zion … ‘ (Joel 3:16).

Amos 1:1 says, ‘ … two years before the earthquake’.

Speaking of the return of our Lord, we read in Zechariah 14:5, ‘ … ye shall flee, like as ye fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.’ The judgment we have just read about, was due to the corruption of the nation.

The catastrophe as a result of this flood is seen in Amos 8:8 and 9:5. The cause of these dramatic events can be seen in the fifth chapter of Amos, ‘I hate, I despite your feast days, and I will not smell your solemn assemblies. Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beast.’ (Amos 5:21,22).

The expressions ‘they take a bribe’ in Amos 5:12, both Dr. Reynolds and Prof. Whitehouse say, ‘This was a ransom which the poor and defenceless were obliged to pay a tyrannical judge’. This assessment is questions by many other scholars.

One thing is clear, the behaviour of this nation is corrupted and one day judgment will fall on these people.

Despite the corrupt behaviour of this nation (which had gone on for centuries), we read the remedy for this way of life can be seen in the fifth chapter of Amos, ‘Seek good and not evil, that you may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate thee evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the Lord God of hots will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.’ (Amos 5:14,15).

For justice to be just, is followed by restoration. Amos 7:8 speaks of ‘a plumbline’, something which is used in building construction, to see if anything is true. Lasers are now often used in building work. The principle here is to see if anything is misaligned. This has to do with the nation of Israel. Dr. Bullinger refers us to the following references: Isaiah 28:17, 34:11 and Lamentations 2:8.

The restoration of Israel can only come about by the finished work of the Messiah. As we read of the disciples, ‘When they therefore were come together, they asked of him saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?’ (Acts 1:6).

The time for that restoration had not yet come, it had been promised in Amos, ‘In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the LORD that doeth this.’ (Amos 9:11,12).

In Acts 15:13-17 we see James quoting these verses from Amos. The possibility of that restoration at that time was delayed at Acts 28:28, when the administration of the Body of Christ came into being. This is not to say, that Israel will not be restored to its former glory. The book of Zechariah confirms this, ‘Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, … then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, … and his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, … and the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.’ (Zechariah 14:1-9).

Coming to the New Testament, 2 Thessalonians gives us a description of the return of our Lord, ‘And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: … when He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be admired in all then that believe … ‘ (2 Thessalonians 1:7-10).

Alan Schofield



Micah is a shortened form of Micaiah meaning – Who is like Jehovah?

Micah was a patriot and foresaw the invasion of the Assyrians.

It is interesting to see that the writer of 1 Kings concludes his prophecy with the words ‘Hearken O people every one of you’ 1 Kings 22:28. Micah begins his prophecy with the words ‘Hear, all ye people; ‘ Micah 1:2. He continues this theme in Micah 3:9, 6:1,2.

As the Rev. S.L. Warren points out, the styles of Isaiah and Micah are similar. The word that Isaiah the son of Amos saw, concerning Judah and Jerusalem.

  • ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it … And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up swords against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.’ (Isaiah 2:2-4).
  • ‘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 unto it … 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 pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.’ (Micah 4:1-3).

One cannot fail to see the similarity between the writings of the two prophets. Isaiah’s writings are more protracted than the writings of Micah. The critics accuse Micah of copying Isaiah’s writings. We would not entertain this claim for a moment.

The state of Israel’s worship at this time was one of decadence. Pagan worship was commonplace and some of the details of their practices are horrific. Idolatry was everywhere, even in the temple itself, Baal was worshipped more than God, heathenism was at its height. 1 Kings records that the worship of Molech had taken hold in the days of Solomon.

  • ‘Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods. And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice.’ (1 King 11:7-9). See also: / Decoding the Antichrist and the end times / by Mark Biltz.

When one considers the wonderful blessings that the Lord showered upon Solomon and then for Solomon to have been sucked into depravity, should serve as a warning to all. It is shocking to read in 2 Kings and Jeremiah just how evil these practices in worshipping Molech were.

  • ‘And (king Josiah) defiled Tophet which is in the valley of the children of Hinnom, that no man might make his son or his daughter to pass through the fire to Molech.’ (2 Kings 23:10).
  • ‘And they built the high places of Baal, … which I commanded them not neither came it into my mind … .’ (Jeremiah 32:35).

This brings into question the traditional doctrine of hell. (For a more in dept study on this very important doctrine, see the booklet ‘Hell pure from blood of all men’ by Charles H. Welch). Available from the Berean Publishing Trust in London.

The book of Micah looks forward not only to the judgement, but the coming of the Messiah.

  • ‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose going forth have been from of old, from everlasting.’ (Micah 5:2).

This verse is giving the people hope and is confirmed in both Matthew and John’s Gospels;

  • ‘And they said unto him, In Betlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Betlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.’ (Matthew 2:5,6).
  • ‘Hath not the scripture said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, were David was?’ (John 7:42).

There is a similar thought in both Micah 5 and Isaiah 14.

  • ‘And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty in the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth.’ (Micah 5:4).

This is a glorious picture of an assured sovereignty of a tender Shepherd. See Psalm 78:70-72.

The theme of a shepherd guiding and looking after his sheep is found in this psalm.

For the many wrongs in this world to be put right, it will take a firm hand. It is obvious that no politician or leader can put right the many problems in the world. The only One who can achieve this, is the Lord Himself.

  • ‘ … The LORD has said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thy inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession … ‘ ‘Thou shall break them with a rod of iron; thou shall dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ (Psalm 2:7-9).

For the fulfillment of this prophecy, see Revelation 2:27, 12:5 and 19:15,16. The One to accomplish this is the One whom they pierced.

  • ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of Him. Even so Amen.’ (Revelation 1:7).

Micah’s conclusion of his prophecy pays homage to the God of gods.

  • ‘Who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He deligteth in mercy.’ (Micah 7:18).

These glorious promises are all centred in Christ, the wonderful words of Mary (Mirjam), at the realisation of her pregnancy (by the Holy Spirt) with Christ, affirm this. See Luke 1:46-55.

Alan Schofield



Jonah – the Dove. He was a successor of Elijah and Elisha. Jonah has a unique place in the Scriptures.

The book has come under severe criticism from many theologians down through the years, as being myth, legend or fantasy.

We are told in Jonah 1:1 that his father’s name was Amittai, this is confirmed in 2 Kings.

  • ‘He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the Lord God of Israel, which He spake by the hand of His servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which was of Gath-hepher.’ (2 Kings 14:25).

The fact of Jonah was confirmed by our Lord. If we compare Jonah 1:17 with the words of our Lord in Matthew, we see the Lord put His divine stamp on the book of Jonah. ‘But He answered and said unto them, an evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah: for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ (Matthew 12:39,40).

Can we ever consider throwing doubt on the Lord’s words? John in his gospel gives seven occasions where the Lord testifies to the truth of His words. (John 7:16; 8:26,46,47; 12:49; 17:8).

The question to be addressed is, why Jonah, a prophet refused to go to Nineveh? Was it through cowardice? The cruelty of the Assyrians brought fear and dread to other nations at this time. One can hardly accuse Jonah of cowardice, as he offered his own life to save the crew of the ship. ‘And he said unto them, take me up, and cast me forth into the sea; so shall the sea be calm unto you: for I know that for my sake this great tempest is upon you.’ (Jonah 1:12).

Another significant statement is found in Jonah 1:14 ‘ … and lay not upon us innocent blood … ‘. What a wonderful type of Christ Jonah was. See Matthew 27:4. Jonah had offered his own life to save others and the testimony by others of the ‘innocent blood’ being offered.

Jonah’s refusal to go to Nineveh is summed up by Jerome: ‘The prophet knew, through the inward suggestion of the Holy Spirit, that the repentance of the Gentiles would be ruin of the Jews. Therefore a lover of his country, he was not so much displeased at the thought of Nineveh’s salvation, as he was adverse to the destruction of his own people’.

The disobedience of Jonah is there for all to see, but the reason for that disobedience is not obvious. Jonah 1:3 is partly answered in 4:2. He knew that God’s displeasure, which resulted in refusing to go to Nineveh would be upon him. ‘ … I am cast out of Thy sight; yet I will look again unto Thy holy Temple.’ (Jonah 2:4).

Jonah’s patriotism at the expense of God’s will and purpose for Nineveh, led to the most wonderful type of Christ that can be found in the Old Testament. ‘Now the Lord had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.’ (Jonah 1:17).

Was this for a period of seventy two hours? Many critics point out that part of a day be reckoned as a full day. Therefore it is possible that Jonah could only have been in the fish for twenty six hours, one hour before the end of one day and the first hour of the third day. Dr. Bullinger points out that the three nights must have resulted in three full days, as Matthew 12:39,40 point out.

Another question which arises is did Jonah actually die in the fish? Again Dr. Bullinger says: ‘If he had not died, he could not have fulfilled the type of Christ.’

Jonah 3:3 describes Nineveh as ‘a great city’. Many scholars say the walls were so wide chariots could be driven at three abreast along the top of the walls. The actually size of the city can be judge by what is written by various people, some conflicting with another. Heroditus reckons a day’s journey at about eighteen or twenty miles. Rev. Aglen M.A. states most commentators measure a city by its circumference, the time taken to walk around the city would take three days according to many scholars. ‘ … forty days … ‘ Jonah 3:4, a period of probation. The number forty plays a significant part in Scripture.

In verse 10 we read where God repeated. ‘And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil that He said He would do unto them; and He did it not.’ (Jonah 3:10).

We see where this word repentance is ascribed to God in Genesis 6:6. If God is perfect in all His ways, it would be both impossible and unnecessary for Him to repent. We turn once again to Dr. Bullinger for the answer to this query. It is what is known as a ‘Figure of Speech’, meaning also ascribing to God what belongs to human and rational beings. There are many such instances of this ‘Figure of Speech’ in the Bible. See Appendix 6 in the Companion Bible for a more detailed study on this subject.

In Jonah 4:5 we read of a booth (soeka/sukkot) which Jonah had made and in verse 6 we see where ‘the LORD God had prepared a gourd’. Rev. Aglen M.A. says it is a large shrub having palmate leaves with serrated lobes. In vers 7, ‘God prepared a worm’ (Deut. 28:39 and Isaiah 14:11), the worm is associated with dead and destruction. In verse 10 and 11 one can see the turmoil that was in Jonah’s mind, he had more pity for the gourd than for Nineveh.

The prophecy suddenly finished, it exhibits God’s care for all people and His creation.

Alan Schofield



Nahum means consolation, or full of comfort. Although only three chapters long, it conveys to us that the believer will go through difficult and unfair times, but God is ultimately in control!

Dr. David Jeremiah points out that three principal themes stand out in this prophecy.

  1. Judgement. God allows sin (which is never excused) but even uses it for His purposes. ‘And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.’ (Romans 8:28).
  2. Oversight of the Nations. He raises up kings and He also removes kings. ‘And He changeth the times and the seasons: He removeth kings, and setteth up kings: He giveth wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding.’ (Daniel 2:21).
  3. Comfort. ‘Behold upon the mountains the feet of Him that brings good tidings, that publisheth peace! O Judah, keep thy solemn feasts, perform thy vows: for the wicked shall no more pas through Thee; He is utterly cut off.’ (Nahum 1:15).

In the first chapter, in the book of Nahum, verse one reads ‘The burden of Nineveh’. This evil godless city, brought misery and death amongst its enemies. The Assyrians had terrorised the known world, but the great redeeming feature is: God will only allow His people to suffer so much, then He puts a stop to their persecution.

  • ‘Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’s hand double for all her sins.’ (Isaiah 40:1,2).

What a blessed word this is, it takes us immediately to the New Testament. ‘And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever (John 14:16). Verse 26 of this chapter identifies Who the comforter is: ‘The Holy Ghost’. John 15:26 ‘He shall testify of Me.’ The question of Nahum 3:7 is answered in Acts 2:1-4, were the disciples ‘ … were all filled with the Holy Ghost … ‘.

The word ‘Comforter’ figures greatly in the prison epistles. Writing to both the Ephesian and the Colossian churches, the word ‘comfort’ is stressed. See Eph. 6:22; Col. 2:2 and 4:8. No matter which calling we are in, we need the Comforter to encourage and strengthen us.

God’s name has a twofold character, as seen throughout the Scriptures. ‘And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and thruth, … and that will by no means clear the guilty … ‘ (Exodus 34:6,7).

The mercy God is demonstrated in Jonah 3:10-4:2,11. In Nahum 2:11-13, God’s anger and power is demonstrated here against this city of Nineveh, where the city was destroyed completely. Rev. A.C. Jennings M.A. points out that the image of the lion figured greatly on Assyrian monuments. This of course points to the power and strength of their nation.

This prophecy of Nahum shows Nineveh was partly destroyed by fire and partly by water from the Tigris. (Nahum 2:2-6; 3:13 and 15).

Jeremiah records the mercy and judgement of God:

  • ‘Behold, I will gather them out of all countries, whither I have driven them in mine anger, and in my fury, and in great wrath; and I will bring them again unto this place and I will cause them to dwell safely: And they shall be my people and I will be their God: … And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, and I will not turn away from them … For thus saith the LORD; like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so I will bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.’ (Jeremiah 32:37-42).

This proves that God’s judgement and mercy is everlasting and that He has not forgotten His people. These everlasting covenants with His people are unconditional. The fall of this great city Nineveh, caused great rejoicing among God’s people. Compare Psalm 47:1-10.

In the third chapter of Nahum we read, ‘Art thou better than populous No, … ‘. Nahum 3:8 No = Thebes (See – Companian Bible – E.W. Bullinger)

Scholars tell us that Thebes is the city of the pagan god Amon. (Dr. David Jeremiah). Thebes, the capital of upper Egypt, perhaps the house of the god Amon. (Rev. A.C. Jennings M.A.).

The judgements of God are terrible, but just.

  • ‘The LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, saith; Behold, I will punish the multitude of No, and Pharaoh, and Egypt, with their gods, and their kings; even Pharaoh, and all them that trust in him.’ (Jeremiah 46:25).

The lesson here is that no matter how prosperous and strong a city is, or nation, if they are openly hostile to God’s people and His word, judgement will fall.

In the last verse of this prophecy of Nahum we read, ‘There is no healing of thy bruise; thy wound is grievous: all that hear the bruit of thee shall clap the hands over thee: for upon whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually?’ (Nahum 3:19).

The fall of this nation (Assyria) was a joy, not only to Israel, but to many other nations. The cruelty of the Assyrians was legendary. No wonder there was a clapping of hands with joy, at the destruction of Nineveh.

Alan Schofield



Although the background of this prophecy is not recorded in Scripture, we do know that Haggai was one who receive the Word of God. See Haggai 1:1,5; 2:1,10,20.

It is interested to note that the name Haggai means ‘My Feast’ and although there are only two chapters in this prophecy, there is a wealth of truth contained in these writings.

Like all biblical prophecies, its displays the uniqueness of God’s Word. In fact it never becomes obsolete.

  • ‘For whatsoever things were written afore time were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.’ (Romans 15:4).

Once again this is showing the reliability of the Old Testament.

The Jewish scholar, David Baron says: ‘The aged figure of the prophet Haggai stand prominently as the last group of three prophets after the restoration from Babylon.’ Haggai’s prophecy was of short duration, possibly as short as four months. See Alphabetical Part 8 page 298. /

In Haggai 1:4 there is a word of rebuke to the people and a great lesson to us all, to put the things of God first. The word ‘consider’ is a word that Haggai uses five times in his short prophecy. We find it in the following references: Chapters 1:5,7; 2:15, twice in verse 18.

The rebuke in 1:4 continues to verse 11. These people had built their own houses with expensive woods, cedar, etc., at the detriment to the house of God. Haggai was angry at the attitude of these people as they had their priorities wrong. The joy of the old men at having seen Solomon’s temple in all its glory turned to sadness as the work of their temple almost came to a halt.

  • ‘But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy.’ (Ezra 3:12).
  • ‘Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? And how do you see it now? Is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?’ (Haggai 2:3).

The sentiments of Haggai 2:7-9 are also seen in Malachi. ‘Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even te messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold he shall come, saith the LORD of hosts.’

The question of ‘peace’ seen in Haggai 2:9 is also seen in Isaiah 9:6 and Zechariah 9:9,10. The Lord Jesus Christ is the only one who can bring everlasting peace to this world. Man has tried over centuries to achieve a lasting peace and it has always failed and will continue to do so.

Chapter 2 in Haggai speaks of the glory of God. ‘And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.’ (Haggai 2:7).

In both Matthew and John’s gospels, we see how the Glory of God in the temple was being corrupted by the behaviour of those trading in the temple.

  • ‘And Jesus went into the temple of God and cast out all of them that sold and bought in the temple and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, and said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.’ (Matthew 21:12,13. See also John 2:16).

The greater and true Glory of God is in the Lord Jesus Christ. The corruption of the old nature in man, leads to judgement, which can be both swift and terrible. ‘I smote you with blastings and with mildew and with hail in all the labours of your hands; yet ye turned not to me, saith the LORD’ (Haggai 2:17).

We find similar words in both Deuteronomium 28:22 and Amos 4:9.

It is impossible to divorce the principle of a temple from the believer. The temple was an essential part of Jewish worship. The believer today is associated with this principle.

  • ‘Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?’ (1 Corinthians 3:16).

Just as the temple of old was the dwelling place of God, so the believer should be likewise.

  • ‘Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple of the Lord.’ (Ephesians 2:19-21).

Here the temple in question is of believers. ‘Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.’ (1 Peter 2:5).

The Scriptures are full of encouragement for the believer. ‘Then spake Haggai the LORD’s messenger in the LORD’s message unto the people, saying, I am with you, saith the LORD.’ (Haggai 1:13). ‘Yet now be strong, O Zerrubbabel, saith the LORD; and be strong, O Joshua, son of Josedech, the high priest; and be strong all ye people of the land, saith the LORD, and work: for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts.’ (Haggai 2:4).

This truth of God’s abiding presence with us is clearly seen in the New Testament. ‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you, and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’ (Matthew 28:20).

Paul stresses this recurring doctrine in Ephesians 1:1-5; 2:6; Philippians 1:6 and Colossians 3:3. Those wonderful words of Romans 8:35-39 are the quarantee that the believer has today regarding the Lord’s abiding presence with all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

We get the types and shadows in the Old Testament and the fulfillment of those types and shadows in the New Testament.

Alan Schofield



Zephaniah means ‘hidden of Jehovah’ or ‘protects’. Some says ‘The watchman of Jehovah’. There is some dispute amongst scholars regarding the second title.

In verse one Zephaniah traces his pedigree back some four generations to Hezekiah. He was probably the great, great, grandson of Hezekiah. (According to Dr. Bullinger, Hizkiah and Hezekiah is the same Hebrew word) See: Companion Bible /

Such is the language of chapter one, that terrible judgement will befall this nation. Throughout the nation’s history, we see that it has been contaminated by pagan worship.

  • ‘I will also stretch out mine hand upon Judah, and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will cut off the remnant of Baal from this place, and the name of the Chemarims (black-robed priests / Companian Bible) with the priests;’ (Zephaniah 1:4).

Both 2 Kings 23:5 and Hosea 10:5 make reference to these black robed priests. Coming to Zephaniah 1:5, we read of those who worshipped upon the housetops. Rev. A.C. Jennings M.A. says, ‘The last half of the verse should be rendered, and the worshippers who swear to Jehovah and swear (also) to Malcham, those who divide their allegiance between the true God and the false.’ Malcham was a pagan god, as Baal was a Canaanite god of fertility. In 1 Kings 11:5 we have reference to the goddess Ashtoreth and Milcom, the one Malcham of Zephaniah 1:5, has been suggested that this deity is identified with the planet Saturn. Ashtoreth is often mentioned in the Old Testament, as one of the many gods that led Israel away from the true God. Zephaniah 1:14,18 strong emphasis is laid upon ‘The Day of the Lord’. The first chapter of Zephaniah is one of judgement. In Zephaniah 1:7 we read:

  • ‘Hold thy peace at the presence of the Lord GOD: for the day of the LORD is at hand: for the LORD hath prepared a sacrifice, the hath bid his guests.’

The day of the Lord, is seen in the fulfillment of the prophecy in Revelation 6, at the opening of the six seals. ‘For the great day of his wrath is come; who shall be able to stand?’ (Revelation 6:17).

Coming to the second chapter of Zephaniah we read of the judgement that will fall on those nations which have corrupted the Lord’s people, these nations are Moab, Ammon, Ethiopia and others, but also the correction for His people.

We read many passages in Scripture referring to the judgements associated with God, but many view these judgements lightly. The reality is vastly different as we see in Revelation 6. The reading of Matthew 24 shows gravity of those days.

Turning out attention to chapter 3 of Zephaniah, we read God’s of displeasure to His people. The first two verses portrayed the sinful condition of those who are disobedient.

  • ‘She obeyed not the voice; she received not correction; she trusted not in the LORD; shew drew not near to her God.’ (Zephaniah 3:2).

The sentiment of verse 7 is echoed in Matthew 23 verse 26. A.M. Hodgkin points out in Zephaniah chapter 3:5-7 that the Lord comes as a judge, ‘every morning’. A similar thought can be seen in Psalm 101:8. The behaviour of these people, particularly from their leaders, the Pharisees, caused much distress to our Saviour.

  • ‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathered her chicks under her wings, and ye would not!’ (Matthew 23:37).

This is a very touching verse, as we see the Lord’s concern over His people. In Zephaniah chapter 3:8, He speaks of ‘with the fire of my jealousy’ see Deuteronomy 4:24, also Zephaniah 1:18 speaks of this jealousy. The judgements of God are a terrible thing. Many believers get the mistaken idea that the all consuming love of God is at the expense of the judgements of God. Verse 9 refers to a pure language in contrast to Isaiah 6:5. Paul also stresses the need for purity.

  • ‘Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever tings are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.’ (Philippians 4:8).

Some scholars say, ‘the reference to a pure language means, that one day that which was created in Genesis 11:9 was the confusion of languages, so the Lord will one day unify the nations under one language, when the worship of many gods shall yield to the pure service of Jehovah, when men shall, with one mind and one mouth glorify.’ – A.C. Jennings M.A.

‘The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth … ‘ (Zephaniah 3:13). What contrast to Micah 6:12.

As Dr. Jeremiah points out, in Zephaniah verses 18-20 of chapter 3, the statement ‘I will’ occurs six times and that the prophet concludes his prophecy with the words, ‘saith the LORD.’

In Zephaniah 3:17, four times we read ‘he will’, in verse 20 it states ‘ … for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth … .’

This nation of Israel which down through the ages, suffered persecution from nations of the earth, will one day be free. All the enemies of God’s people have always been defeated and will continue to be so until that day when the Lord returns to His people.

Alan Schofield



This prophecy is of great wealth in bringing to light the types and shadows of Christ in the Old Testament. Zechariah, more than any other prophet demonstrated this truth.

Much controversy surrounds the dating of chapters 9-14. This is dealt with in an exhaustive and thorough way by the Rev. W.H. Lowe M.A. in Dr. Ellicott’s bible commentary, the result being that the criticism is faulty and unreliable

It would appear that Zechariah like Ezekiel and Jeremiah combined the two great offices of prophet and priest, ‘The word of the Lord came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest … ‘ (Ezekiel 1:3).

One of the best examples of combining two great offices is seen in Melchizedek, meaning ‘king of righteousness’. ‘And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of the most high God. And he blessed him, and said, blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand. And he gave him tithes of all’ (Genesis 14:18-20 compare with Hebrews 7:1).

Referring to Christ, John 1:49 ‘ … thou art the King of Israel’. Also, ‘But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.’ (Hebrews 7:24).

In Zechariah 3:8 and 6:12 referring to the Messiah, Dr. Bullinger points out how the Lord is portrayed in this book and how the four gospels fulfill that portrayal.

Matthew – presents our Lord as ‘the King’. ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem, behold, thy King cometh unto thee: He is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.’ (Zechariah 9:9).

Mark – The servant. ‘Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.’ (Zechariah 3:8).

Luke – The man. ‘And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and He shall grow up out of His place, and He shall build the temple of the LORD.’ (Zechariah 6:12).

John – God (Jehovah). ‘Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee’ Zechariah 14:1. ‘ … and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.’ (Zechariah 14:5).

We see the Lord as the Good Shepherd. ‘And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people … ‘ (Zechariah 9:16). ‘I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd giveth His life for the sheep’ (John 10:11).

Zechariah 9:11 speaks of ‘by the blood of thy covenant.’ ‘For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.’ (Matthew 26:28, see also Hebrews 9:20-22).

  • ‘And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.’ (Zechariah 11:12). Thirty pieces of silver is the price of a foreign slave. ‘Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, and said unto them, what will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.’ (Matthew 26:14,15).

We realise from the prophecies in the Old Testament, how vital it is to see these many links with our Lord.

In Zechariah 14 we have a graphic account of our Lord’s return to the earth. ‘And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north and half of it toward the south.’ (Zechariah 14:6). Acts 1:10 and 11 will be the fulfillment of this prophecy. There can be no doubt that our Lord’s return will be to the Mount of Olives. The geography of that region will be radically changed.

A graphic account of the return of our Lord is clearly seen in Matthew. ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven: then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.’ (Matthew 24:30,31).

The book of Jude records the following: ‘And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with the thousand of His angels.’ (Jude 14).

Dr. Bullinger points out that ‘saints’ (A.V.) here in Jude should read ‘angels’ which radically changes the doctrine of the immortality of the soul. See: /

The Scriptures clearly teach that the return of our Lord brings judgement and cleansing.

Alan Schofield



Malachi – the messenger of the Lord. What a privileged title to have, to be the Lord’s messenger is to be one who is reliable.

  • Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me … ‘ (Malachi 3:1).

John the Baptist is the one referred to here. We find in all four gospels that John is indeed a messenger of God preparing the way for our Lord Jesus Christ. See Matthew 3:1-3, Mark 1:1-8, Luke 1:13-17, John 1:6-8. What a testimony to this great servant of God was John the Baptist.

In Malachi we find that there are at least four practices which are dishonouring to the Lord.

a/. The corruption of the priesthood. – ‘And now O ye priests, this commandment is for you‘, Malachi 2:1. – ‘Therefore have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the law‘, Malachi 2:9. – This has been a recurring problem. See Nehemiah 13:29.

b/. Alliance with strange wives. See Nehemiah 13:23-27 also Malachi 2:10-16.

One might ask why is this practice condemned in the Scriptures? There are several passages in the Old Testament where this is brought to the fore. The result of these practices led to the introduction of pagan worship. A prominent example of this is seen in the life of Solomon. Here was a man who was given a gift from God of great wealth and wisdom.

  • In Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night: and God said, ask what I shall give thee … give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great people? And the speech pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this thing … Behold, I have done according to thy words: lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding hearth; so that there is none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee … ‘, 1 Kings 3:5-14.

As we continue to read Solomon’s life, we realise that his heart was turned. ‘But king Solomon loved many strange women, … and he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.‘ (1 Kings 11:1-3).

What a lesson to us all, here was the wisest man that ever lived, received multitudes of blessings from the Lord, riches etc. Yet he turned away from God and embraced the pagan life. Oh, the power and influence of the old nature in man.

c/. The disobedience of this nation of Israel, led to some very plain speaking by Malachi.

A.M. Hodgkin points out that this led to the people giving an immediate response. Malachi 1:2, 6-7; 2:17; 3:7-8, 13-14. ‘A son honoureth his father, and a servant his master: if then I be a father, where is mine honour? And if I be a master, where is my fear? Saith the LORD of hosts unto you. O, priests, that despise my name. And ye say, Wherein have we despised thy name?‘ (Malachi 1:6).

We learn another lesson from this verse. One can stray far away from God’s truth, that the truth itself can be blurred. As Exodus 4:22 makes it clear that God was indeed their Father.


  • ‘Anyone or anything that spoils the image of Christ is to be condemned. The nation of Israel was doing exactly that at this time, ‘Ye offer polluted bread upon mine altar; and ye say, wherein have we polluted thee? In that ye say, the table of the LORD is contemptible. And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? …, (Malachi 1:7-8).

Rev. W.H. Lowe M.A. brings to our attention, the word ‘Bread’ means flesh in Arabic, and food generally in Hebrew.

The insistence in the Scriptures of the unblemished state of the Lord is stressed in Exodus 12:5, 29:1; Leviticus 22:19-24. It is heartbreaking to the believer to hear how the world regards Christ. [Jesjoea Masjiach] –

We have the divine assurance that we worship a God who is unchangeable. ‘For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.’ (Malachi 3:6).

This theme runs through the whole of Scripture, both the Old and the New Testaments. What a blessing this is, to know we worship an unchangeable God, not a God who repeatedly changes his mind. See Numbers 23:19 and Psalm 102:27. This clearly shows that the God of the whole of Scripture is one and the same. ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever‘, (Hebrews 13:8).

In Malachi 3:16 we read of a book of remembrance. See also Psalm 56:8 and Daniel 7:10. It was the custom of Persian kings to have records written in a book of remembrance. This is seen in Esther 6:1 and Revelation 5:1-5.

To entertain the idea that God needs a book of remembrance to bring to mind various happenings is unworthy of the God we worship. If God has no beginning or ending and is not limited by time and space, why should He require written records to remember anything? Surely the present is always before Him. It is only human beings that are limited to time and space.

In Malachi 4:2 we read ‘Sun (fem) of righteousness’. Dr. Bullinger says, ‘It is connected with righteousness (fem) which Messiah the righteous one along can bring.’

This prophecy ends with a day of judgement. ‘ … before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD‘, Malachi 4:5.

A.M. Hodgkin points out that the Old Testament closes with the word ‘curse’. The new Testament closes with a blessing, Revelation 22:21.

It has been an interesting exercise to see from the Old Testament the many types and shadows of our Lord in those writings, appreciating that only a fraction of those types we have looked at.

The hope is that many may have been stimulated to pursue for themselves the many types which have been missed in this series of articles.

Alan Schofield



Having looked at Christ in type and shadow in the Old Testament, we now look at His earthly life in the four gospels, particularly from John’s gospel.

Many teach that there is a certain amount of copying, especially Mark copying some of his writings from Matthew’s gospel. Most of us are familiar with the fact that our Lord is presented in four different ways in these four gospels.

  • Matthew – presents our Lord as a king.
  • Mark – presents our Lord as a servant.
  • Luke – presents our Lord as a man.
  • John – presents our Lord as Jehovah.

Having seen these basic truths, enables us to appreciate our Lord’s work while on earth.

Most people have no problem with the first three gospels and what they teach regarding Christ. John is a very different story. We are not interested in the testimony of man, but what the Scriptures teach on this vital doctrine of The Deity of Christ. Immediately we see the status of the One of Whom this gospel is speaking. ‘And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father) full of grace and truth.’ (John 1:14).

With the above statement in mind we turn to the first verse of this great gospel.

  • ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.’ (John 1:1).

We now come across a problem when we read in Genesis 1:1 ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.’ Yet when we come to John 1:18 it reads ‘no man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.’ There is no contradiction here, it was at Bethlehem that He became flesh. We then read a staggering statement in John. ‘All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.’ (John 1:3).

This is repeated by Paul in his epistle to the Colossians. ‘For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (are held together).’ (Colossians 1:16-17).

To get some appreciation of these words, we only have to look up on a cloudless night and see the vastness of the heavens, then look through a microscope and see the amazing life forms which cannot be seen with the naked eye. Considering that ‘God is spirit … ‘ John 4:24, if God is a spirit, therefore He is unknowable to mankind. For God to fulfill His purposes for mankind and to eradicate sin which has spoiled creation, it necessitated coming in the flesh to correct that deficiency. The one who died must be sinless, otherwise he himself would need s Saviour. As only God is sinless, then it follows that Christ Himself must also be sinless, ‘And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.’ (1 Timothy 3:16).

One name He gave Himself was I AM and its significance is found in Exodus 3:14. Some argue that when Christ used this name (ego eimi) it merely meant He was expressing Himself, this borders on blasphemy and is not worthy of our time.

We are given a very interesting list of this title by A.M. Hodgkin from John’s gospel. It is as follows: John 4:25-26. ‘Jesus saith unto her, I (I AM) that speak unto thee am He.’ That meets our needs of a divine Saviour.

  • John 6:35. ‘ … I am the bread of life … ‘ Meets our soul – hunger.
  • John 8:12. ‘ … I am the light of the world … ‘ Meets our darkness.
  • John 10:7. ‘ … I am the door of the sheep … ‘ Meets our homelessness.
  • John 10:11. ‘ … I am the good shepherd … ‘Meets our helplessness.
  • John 11:25. ‘ … I am the resurrection and the life … ‘ Meets our death.
  • John 13:13. ‘ … Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am’. He meets our dependence.
  • John 14:6. ‘ … I am the way, the truth, and the life … ‘ He meets our need for salvation.
  • John 15:1. ‘ … I am the true vine … ‘ Meets our need of union with Himself..
  • John 18:5. ‘ … Jesus of Nazareth … I am he.’ He meets our need of a human Saviour who is also divine.

Looking back to John 5:18, it was His claim to be equal with God, that provoked the Jews to accuse Him of blasphemy, John 5:19–23.

The penalty for blasphemy was death by stoning. See Leviticus 24:16. This is further evidence of our Lord’s claim. See John 10:30. ‘I and my Father are one.’

The Levitical law is criticized by some as being too harsh. Let us just remind ourselves of what the Lord had to say on this subject.

  • ‘Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words’? (John 5:45-47).

Finally, after all the scriptural evidence that has been looked at, along with Thomas, we can say: ‘Thomas answered and said unto Him, My Lord and My God.’ (John 20:28).

No longer doubting Thomas, but now he was totally convicted that He was the one Who was God manifest in the flesh.

Alan Schofield



In the last article we saw how Christ in the four gospels fulfilled all that had been prophesied of Him in the Old Testament. This of course is only half the story, for we find that in the rest of the New Testament even more of the Truth is revealed in Christ.

We are all well aware of the work of the twelve disciples, especially of Peter starting in that wonderful chapter two of the Acts. Care must be taken when we interpret chapter two. In verse 5-11 we are given a list of those who were listening to Peter’s sermon. It is often believed that those foreigners which are mentioned include Gentiles. There is no evidence of this from what we read; ‘And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.’ (Acts 2:5).

These Jews were assembled from the Dispersion. Dr. Bullinger says in verse 5, ‘not sojourners for the Feast, but Jews of the dispersion who had taken up their abode at Jerusalem, perhaps because of the expectation of the Messiah’ cf Luke 2:38. Whatever the reason, these men heard Peter loud and clear in their own language (Gr. Dialektos) even in their own dialect. Every region has its own dialect, and we know from our own experience the difficulty we have on occasions to understand others. No such difficulty was encountered here. What a miracle that was in itself.

Peter had already been chosen by our Lord during the Lord’s earthly ministry. ‘And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishers. And he said unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and follow him.’ (Matthew 4:18-20).

It was in resurrection glory that Christ chose Paul. ‘And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me? And the Lord said, I am Jesus [Yeshua] whom thou persecutes: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.’ (Acts 9:3-6).

Paul’s immediate response to his call to the ministry, was one of complete obedience, not what he wanted to do, but he put his life in the hands of the Lord.

It is principally these two great apostles, Peter and Paul that we need to consider. It is obvious that these two men were of different temperament, Peter was very impulsive, see Matthew 14:26-31; 26:30-35 and John 18:4-11. Their sphere of work was also different.

Peter’s commission was principally to the Jews and Paul was instructed to minister primarily to the Gentiles. ‘But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter.’ (Galatians 2:7).

There is plenty of scriptural evidence that Peter was reluctant to go to the Gentile. Acts 10:28 ‘And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; But God hath shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.’

It wasn’t a natural thing for a Jew to alienate himself from another Jew and embrace a Gentile. Here we see how God overruled the prejudice of Peter on this occasion to further His purposes. It is interesting as we study the Acts period, that Paul although the minister to the Gentile always went to the synagogue first, whenever he entered a town of a city. See Acts 18:4 and 6, just to give an examples. It was during this period in Paul’s ministry, that the apostle was able to perform miracles. His learning and energy was there for all to see. Paul’s training was under one of the finest teachers (Gamaliel) in Israel at that time. Acts 9:1-3 tells us something of Paul’s energy and dedication to what he believed to be right.

Paul’s courage is displayed in Galatians 2:11-12, challenging Peter about his behaviour. There was no such reluctance from Paul in fulfilling his commission to go to the Gentiles.

Acts opens with the ministry of Peter to the Jews, beginning at Jerusalem, Acts 2:1-5, and ends with Paul preaching to the Jews in Rome, Acts 28:14-29. Rome was the centre of the world at that time.

The Jews were given many opportunities to come to Christ [Messiah], with the preaching of these two apostles. The dominance of both Peter and Paul during the period of the Acts, is pointed out by Dr. Bullinger in the Companion Bible.

[Zie ook: HET BOEK HANDELINGEN / Hoite Slagter /

There were seven addresses or speeches given by each apostle in this great book of Acts. The remaining four were given by James, Stephen, Gamaliel and Tertullus. When we get to Acts 28:28 the whole picture changes, no doubt the ministry of Peter and others continued, but from this point (Acts 13), it mainly concentrates on Paul’s ministry.

After Acts 28 we find an absence of miracles. In the Acts, Paul was able to perform miracles, e.g. raising the dead. ‘And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead. And Paul went down, and fell on him, and embracing him said, Trouble not yourselves; for his life is in him.’ (Acts 20:7-10).

Many other miracles were performed through Paul, for example see Acts 19:11-12. After Acts 28:28 there is an absence of miracles by the apostle Paul, in fact we find the apostle unable to cure both Epaphroditus and Timothy. ‘Yet I suppose it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, and companion in labour and fellow soldier, but your messenger, and he that ministered to my wants. For he longed after you all, and was full of heaviness, because that ye had heard that he had been sick. For indeed he was sick nigh unto death: but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.’ (Philippians 2:25-27). ‘Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.’ (1 Tim. 5:23).

Much more could be written regarding these changes, but I trust enough has been written to make us look further into these important doctrines. One book to be recommended is ‘Dispensational Truth’ by C.H. Welch, this book can be obtained from the Chapel of the Opened Book, 52 A Wilson Street, London EC2A 2ER. Other publications on these vital doctrines can be obtained from the above address.

Alan Schofield



Free Books by E.W. Bullinger !! / org/bullinger


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