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Apr 122019
 
RESURRECTION

The great fact of all facts proclaimed by God to sinful men is that Jesus Christ, Who was crucified on Calvary, “died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, and was buried, and rose again the third day, according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15:3,4). They who believe that proclamation receive the Salvation of the Lord. Those who refuse to believe that Christ rose from the dead, make the Son of God like unto those sinners whom He died to save. They make His death to be the death of a sinful man, for they declare that His body remained in the grave to see corruption. They make Him to be under the power of death; and thus they deny the whole basis of salvation. Whatever prospect there is for sinful human beings depends absolutely upon the sign of the prophet Jonas. If that be not a true sign, then there is no hope for man; then they which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished, and we who believe on Him are, of all men, the most miserable.

The prayer which Jonah uttered while in the belly of the great fish is one of the most remarkable passages of Scripture. Some of its striking features we purpose to point out later; but just now we would call attention to the words in which the utterance culminates – “Salvation is of the Lord”. When Jonah reached that conclusion, his deliverance was at hand, for then ‘the Lord spake unto the fish, and it vomited Jonah upon the dry land’.

Human beings are all come into the same situation in which Jonah found himself. They are swallowed up by a great monster; for “the whole world lieth in the Wicked One” (1 Jn. 5:10). Like Jonah, the offspring of Adam came into that desperate condition through departure from the Word of God. Like Jonah, they have no means of escape. Men are very clever; they have invented many devices for making the interior of the great sea monster a more agreeable place to pass their time in, but they have invented no ingenious contrivance, no mighty engine, no potent chemical combination, no code of morals, no elaborate religious system, whereby a single human being can escape from the dominion of sin and death. Truly, “Salvation is of THE LORD”. Man’s works, whether works of power or works of righteousness, are all in vain.

When, however, a sinner of Adam’s race realises that he has indeed departed from the way of God and fallen into the power of a mighty being whose helpless prey he is; and when he realises that human strength, human intelligence, and human goodness avail nothing for deliverance; when, in a word, he realises that “salvation is of the Lord”, then the hour of his deliverance is come. God “speaks” and a miracle like the new birth takes place. Thus Jonah became pre-eminently the type of all types, the type of the Divine Saviour, bringing the sinner up out of the depths of sin and darkness into the light, and liberty, and love, and joy, and service, and everything that pertains to “newness of life”. For Jonah was born again, born out of the water and of the Spirit.

Types of Resurrection in the Old Testament

The Old Testament contains many clear types of the Resurrection. Those types begin early in the sacred volume, and their frequent occurrence testifies strongly to the importance of the subject. God’s purpose manifested from the beginning was to have a people born from the dead.

In the first chapter of Genesis, we read that on the third day God brought up the earth from out of the waters in which it was buried. That was the first baptism, the first great figure of death, burial, and resurrection. On the third day God said, “Let the waters be gathered together in one place, and let the dry land appear”. And the earth immediately came forth into the light and air already prepared for it. Moreover, God spake again to the earth, and the earth became fruitful.

In like manner as God spake first to the waters, commanding them to release the earth, and then to the earth, commanding fruitfulness; so He spake first to the great fish, commanding it to release Jonah, and then to Jonah, commanding him to go preach in Nineveh. The lesson is the same.

Then we come to the ark of Noah, another great and clear type of Resurrection. For the apostle Peter tells us that the ark is like baptism, a figure of that which saves us by the Resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 3:21).

The ark was delivered from the waters of death and judgment on the seventeenth day of the seventh month (Gen. 8:4); for on that day the ark “rested” on Mount Ararat. God reckons the date of that event to be important, for He caused it to be recorded. The importance of the date becomes evident when we associate it with another event, the Passover, which represented the death of Christ, and which occurred on the fourteenth day of the seventh month. Three days later He arose, on the date of the resting of the ark, the type of Resurrection. And then, after the deliverance of those who were in the ark, God spake to Noah, commanding fruitfulness. “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”.

Reading on further in Genesis, we come to Abraham, brought out by the Word of the Lord from the idolatries of the heathen, himself “as good as dead”, and whom God commanded to be fruitful, saying, “I will make My covenant between Me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly” (Gen. 17:3).

Further on we read of Isaac, a very clear type of resurrection from the dead, from whence, it is written, his father “received him in a figure” (Heb. 11:19). After Abraham and Isaac had gone three days‘ journey to the place appointed, God spake, delivering Isaac from death, saying, “Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him”. And through this man, raised as it were from the dead, God caused fruit to be produced, saying, “In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore” (Gen. 22:12-17).

Then we come to the case of Joseph, thrown into a pit and raised up again to be a prince and saviour even to those who cast him out. Joseph also was cast into prison and associated with two malefactors, one of whom was saved; and the third year Joseph was brought out of be the deliverer of the Gentiles and of his own people. Moreover, he called his second son Ephraim: “for”, he said, “God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction” (Gen. 41:52).

Again, we read of the Israëlites delivered from Egypt at God’s command, baptised in the Red Sea, which they crossed on the third day (Ex. 14:21-22).

Again, we have the crossing of Jordan by the ark with all the people “after three days”. Thus, as it were by death and resurrection, the people of Jehovah entered the land promised to them (Josh. 3:2,17). And so we might go on, finding other types of the same great truth, foreshadowing that God’s way of deliverance for His people is by Resurrection. And there is no other way.

God’s Salvation: Life from the Dead

One of the leading truths to be learned from the Book of Jonah is that the salvation of God is Resurrection. God’s salvation is nothing less than bringing forth the sinner from out the dominion and power of death, and giving him new life in a new place. All human beings are, from the hour of birth under the power of death. This is a fact so palpable that none can deny it. “By one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, and so death passed upon all men”. This is true equally of the man of high character and the man of low character, of the man who has done his best and the man who has done his worst. The greatest men, the wisest, the most intelligent, the most learned, the strongest and the best, are all under the dominion of death. Since all are in precisely the same condition by nature, all are in need of precisely the same salvation. For there is “no difference”. Saul of Tarsis, the man of blameless life, spent in pious works and religious exercise, stood in the same need of God’s salvation as the woman of Samaria, or the dying thief of Calvary. All alike need a Saviour – God, One who reverses the course of nature – bringing life out of death. For the course of nature, which is governed by sin, carries every man from life into death.

The salvation of God reverses the course of nature, bringing men out of death into life. This salvation may be described by the one word Resurrection, and that is the supreme lesson of the book of Jonah.

So the Gospel brings to light another fact, a fact that is not self-evident like the universal fact of death’s power over all men, but a fact known nevertheless to those who hear and believe the Word of God: “But now is Christ RISEN FROM THE DEAD and become the first-fruits of them that slept. For since BY MAN came death, BY MAN came also the Resurrection of the dead” (1 Cor. 15:20,21). Death came by one man, Adam: Resurrection came by one man, Jesus Christ.

There are many who seem to think that the place in which they find themselves – the world that lieth in the Wicked One – is a good enough place to be in. They admit that there are defects in it, that its advantages are most unequally distributed, that it contains much suffering and misery, and much crime and wickedness. But they hold the soothing doctrine that the world needs only a few improvements in its social and political arrangements to make it a comfortable and agreeable dwelling place for all human beings; and they hold also that men themselves possess the ability to devise and introduce all needed improvements. But this is not the testimony of the Word of God; it is the falsehood of that same “Wicked One” in whom the world lies, who is its “prince” and “god”, and “who has the power of death” (Heb. 2:9). It is not the testimony of the Spirit of truth, for He is come to “convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment” (Jn. 16:8,11). It is no part of the mission of Christ to introduce social and political changes in the world, but to bring Resurrection as a way out. Jonah was not so foolish as to suppose that God’s salvation would make him a little more comfortable in the fish’s belly. He looked for deliverance out of it.

Let none be deceived as to this vital matter. The world over which death has absolute dominion is not a good place to be in; and the best possible news to those who are in such a place is the news of a way out. Hence the prominent fact of God’s “good news” is the Resurrection, and that is what is represented by the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Jesus and the Resurrection

But we do not dwell upon the many important lessons that may be traced in the little Book of Jonah, for we wish specially to look at the marvelous type it presents to us of the essence of “that Gospel which”, says the apostle Paul, “I preach among the Gentiles” (Gal. 2:2). That Gospel, the only Gospel of God preached for the obedience of faith among all nations, is concisely stated in Acts 17:18, as consisting of “Jesus and the Resurrection” – “Jesus”, the Foundation of God; and “Resurrection”, the seal of authentication which God has placed upon the Person and Work of His Son.

For we cannot too often or too earnestly proclaim in these days of departure from the faith that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead is the central fact of Christianity. That is the fact which God has commanded to be proclaimed throughout the world. The true messenger of God, the true prophet, the true evangelist, preaches a risen Christ. They preach the Son of God come in the flesh, crucified for sinners, and raised from the dead to the right hand of the Father. The Holy Spirit is come down from heaven to witness to the fact of the risen Christ.

After His Resurrection the Lord Jesus Himself opened the understanding of His disciples that they might understand the Scriptures; and this is the true He then impressed upon them: “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day”.

Yes, it “behoved” Him to suffer and to rise the third day. Why? Because “thus it is written”. To be “the Christ” He must needs fulfill all that was written of Him. Without the sufferings appointed to Him there would be no glory to follow, no salvation, no Saviour. For the Spirit of Christ in the prophets testified beforehand (to the bewilderment of the prophets themselves) of the sufferings belonging to Christ and of the glories that were to follow (1 Pet. 1:11).

In like manner, the apostle Paul, when he announced the Gospel, “opened” the Scriptures, and reasoned with his hearers out of the Scriptures, alleging “that Christ MUST NEEDS have sufferd and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, Whom I preach unto you IS CHRIST” (Acts 17:2,3).

There are two great links to the Apostle’s argument. The first is that the Christ of God must needs have suffered and risen again. Of this, the Scriptures supplied overwhelming proof. Anyone claiming to be “the Christ of the Scriptures” must needs make this claim good by dying and rising from the dead. Unless he died and rose again, he would not be the Christ of God, but an impostor, a false Christ.

The second link is “that this Jesus IS the Christ”. The proof of this is that in every detail down to the very last, “this Jesus” fulfilled the many things foretold of the Christ, and specially in regard to the predicted sufferings of Christ. And then, after having suffered according to the Scriptures, He appeared in Resurrection to the “witnesses” chosen of God to testify this mighty fact to all the world (Acts 2:32; 3:15; 5:31,32; 13:29,31)..

So, upon this great fact of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, Christianity was founded. Through the foolishness of the preaching of that fact, sinners were converted, their sins forgiven, eternal life bestowed upon them, and they were gathered out from a dying world to a risen, living Saviour. For “with great power gave the Apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; and great grace was upon them all” (Acts 4:33).

From this we may learn how much is involved in the estimate which “modern scholarship” places upon the Book of Jonah, and in particular in the estimate placed upon the history of Jonah’s deliverance. And as we begin to realise what is at stake, we shall more clearly understand how much the Lord based upon the truth of the narrative. How shall they face Him, they who, in order to gain repute among men for superior intelligence or superior learning, have discredited the one incident of Old Testament history which Christ selected as the pedestal for the saving truth of His own resurrection from the dead?

Let us, then, increasingly thank God for the Book of Jonah.

Resurrection

And now comes the promise of resurrection:

  • “Yea, Thou hast brought up My life from corruption, O Lord, My God. When My soul fainted within Me, I remembered the Lord, and My prayer came in unto Thee, into Thine holy temple” (Jon. 2:6,7).

The Holy Spirit now puts into the lips of the prophet Jonah almost the same words found in the sixteenth Psalm: “Thou wilt not leave My soul in Hades, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt show Me the path of life”. These words are quoted both by Peter (Acts 2:25,31) and by Paul (Acts 13:35), as containing the promise and prophecy of the resurrection of Christ. How exceedingly important, then, is the little Book of Jonah! What portion of the Old Testament scripture of equal length contains truth more vital to men who are in bondage and under the dominion of death?

In the few verses of chapter 2, we find, in words of wonderful depth and simplicity, the unutterable experiences of the Christ of God when accomplishing in mighty work of redemption. Here, as nowhere else in shadow, type, and prophecy, the anointed ear may hear the voice of the spirit of Christ, testifying beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that should follow. For here we have the profoundest utterances of the Spirit gathered from various Psalms and Prophecies and condensed into a few sentences. But more than that, those sentences are put into the lips of a man actually undergoing an experience marvelously in correspondence with the experience of the Lord in His death, burial and resurrection.

In some scriptures we have death and resurrection in a figure. In others we have death and resurrection foretold in words. But in Jonah we have the mighty truth, which is the gospel of our salvation, given both in figure and in words. This wondrous combination occurs nowhere else (so far as the writer recalls) in Old Testament Scripture. It gives to the Book of Jonah a very special value, and indicates the reason why the Lord chose Jonah from among all the types, as pre-eminently figuring His own death and rising from among the dead.

Among all the varied experiences of men in this world, no man other than Jonah ever had such an experience as this. To be tossed into the sea for the express purpose of quieting its ragings and thus saving the imperiled lives of others; to be swallowed by a great fish; to be made alive and conscious in the fish’s belly after just three days; and to be brought up again the third day in safety and subsequently made a preacher to the Gentiles, constitute a history the like of which has befallen no other man. There it stood on the inspired page, seemingly only a tale of marvel, its significance utterly unknown to men, until the Son of God with a few words, illuminates it with Divine light, revealing in it treasurers of heavenly truth of incalculable value. “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God”.

Examining the history of Jonah in the light of the words of Christ, we find in it the fullest and clearest of all types of His mighty work, whereby the redemption of sinners is accomplished and eternally secured. And not only so, but we also find the Spirit of Christ uttering through the lips of Jonah – the man of this unparalleled experience – words expressive of the experiences of Christ while suffering in our stead, in order that the sea might be calm unto us.

Where can language be found to voice the wonder that the believing heart must feel in coming upon such a revelation as this?

God has seen fit to give us this surpassingly wonderful prophecy and figure setting forth the sufferings of Christ when delivered up for our offences, and His rising again for our justification. Yet men of corrupt minds, though calling themselves by the Name of Christ, are showing to one another their superior wisdom and scholarship, as they vainly suppose, by casting doubt and even ridicule upon that Scripture, in which, as in none other, the Spirit of Christ has testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow; which things the angels desire to look into.

That “determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God” is clearly shown forth in the Book of Jonah. Let us, then, prize it and thank God for it. “Salvation is of the Lord”.

By P. Mauro / The Berean Expositor / April 2019 VOL> 70 No. 2*



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No. 9

THE THOUSAND GENERATIONS

It is only possible to speak of the Millennium, if we believe that the term, ‘a thousand years’ means what it says, and is to be taken literally. This being so, what are we to understand by the statement in Deuteronomium 7:9?

  • ‘The LORD thy God. He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS‘.

How are we to understand the language of David recorded in 1 Chronicles 16:15?

  • ‘Be ye mindful always of His covenant; the word which He commanded TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS‘.

And yet once more, what did the Psalmist mean in Psalm 105:8?

  • ‘He hath remembered His covenant for ever, the word which He commanded TO A THOUSAND GENERATIONS‘.

The usage of the word ‘generation’ in the Scriptures falls into three groups or shades of meaning.

  1. The primary meaning is that of offspring. This is its meaning in the genealogies that abound in the Old Testament. In Hebrew ‘the book of the generations’ is sepher toledoth, and in the Greek, biblos geneseos (Gen. 5:1, LXX; Matt. 1:1).
  2. Arising out of this primary meaning comes a secondary sense, namely a period of time. This would not have been used rigidly, especially when we observe that the natural length of human life has changed since the days of the patriarchs. Herodotus, the Greek historian, says, ‘three generations of men make an hundred years’, and Clement of Alexandria citing Homer says, ‘two generations’ covers the period of ‘about sixty years old’. It will be remembered that our Saviour’s earthly life was just about a ‘generation’, He commencing His ministry at about 30 years of age (Luk. 3:23).
  3. The word subsequently came to indicate some specific characteristics such as ‘an adulterous and sinful generation’. When the three Old Testament writers quoted above speak of ‘a thousand generations’, they can mean nothing more or less than an exceedingly long period of time, not necessarily 33,000 years, but sufficiently long to overlap the Millennium to such an extent as to show that the thousand years’ reign is but the threshold to a period very much longer than the present history of man, multiplied several times. If this has even any element of truth in it, then the Day of God, which follows the Day of the Lord must be of great importance, and it is highly probable that many a passage of the Old Testament that has been indiscriminately labelled ‘Millennial’ belongs to this subsequent period. This will become at length the kingdom which the Son of God will deliver up to the Father, after all rule, authority and power have been put down (1 Cor. 15:24-28). Most certain it is that the Millennial kingdom as it is (Rev. 20:8-10) was not ready to be thus delivered up to the Father. The words, ‘For He must reign’ (1 Cor. 15:25) extend far beyond the limits of the thousand years, if it is to extend to the end of a thousand generations. One or two other terms should be examined while we have this question before us. What is meant by the words of Ephesians 3:21:

‘Eis pasas tas geneas tou aionos ton aionon. / Unto all the generations of the age of the ages’.

To what period of time, and to which part of the Divine purpose does Peter refer in 2 Peter 3:18, eis hemeran aionos, ‘unto (the) day (of the) age’? For one thing, we know that this reaches out to the extreme limits of the time period mentioned in 2 Peter 3:

  • (1) The Day of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:10), that ends in dissolution,
  • (2) The Day of God (2 Pet. 3:12), for which the believer is to look,
  • (3) The Day of the Age (2 Pet. 3:18) which appears to be the goal of all time.

In Isaiah 44:7 Israël are called ‘the ancient people’ which however is translated by some, including The Companion Bible, ‘the everlasting nation’. The Companion Bible note reads, ‘The nation of Israël is everlasting, like the covenant. The nations which oppressed Israël (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Rome) have passed away; but Israël remains, and when restored, will remain for ever. Note and compare the nine everlasting things in Isaiah:

  1. Covenant (55:3; 61:8; cf. note on Genesis 9:16);
  2. kindness (54:8);
  3. salvation (45:17);
  4. excellency; (60:15);
  5. joy (51:11);
  6. name (56:5);
  7. light (60:19,20);
  8. sign (55:13); and
  9. as the pledge of all, ‘the everlasting God’ (40:28; 63:12)’.

Providing that we realize that the Hebrew word olam and the Greek aion, means literally an age of undefined extend and not necessarily that which is eternal in the fullest sense, the repetition of this term as indicated in the quotation given above demands something more than a millennium of a thousand years to justify or exhaust. There are evident correspondencies between the earthly and the heavenly Jerusalem, which, while necessary to keep distinct, throw light upon several features.

The promise of Ezekiel 37:26-28 is echoed in Revelation 21:3:

  • ‘Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be My people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israël, when My sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore’.

The other blessed reference to the wiping away of all tears, is an echo of a prophecy of Isaiah:

  • ‘He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of His people shall He take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it’ (Isa. 25:8).

Again, the description of the city given in Ezekiel 48:30-35 with its twelve gates, each bearing te name of one of the twelve tribes of Israël, establishes another link between the restored Jerusalem which shall be on the earth, with the Heavenly City, which is to descend out of heaven after the Millennium has run its course:

  • ‘The nations (of them which are saved) shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it’ (Rev. 21:24).

In strong contrast with the constitution of the Church, ‘where there is neither Greek nor Jew’ (Col. 3:11) the distinction between Israël and the nations will be maintained throughout the whole period. It is not within our present intention or ability to attempt to fit Old Testament prophecies into (1) the Millennium or (2) into the succeeding Day of God, all we know is that many Scriptures hitherto labelled ‘Millennial’ have been so indicated without sufficient justification. Patient and accurate study is demanded of any who will attempt to extend the suggestions offered in this brief article; patient accumulation and tabulation of many prophecies that deal with the hopes and destiny of Israël will have to be made before it can be said with any degree of certainty, ‘there Israël’s kingdom ends’ and ‘this is Millennial’, but we can only express our conviction that Israël’s kingdom will continue until the day of which 1 Corinthians 15:28 speaks, when it will be swallowed up in ‘the perfect day’ (Prov. 4:18), ‘the day of the age’ (2 Pet. 3:18) when what we loosely call ‘eternity’ takes the place off time.

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No. 10

THE SEVENFOLD BLESSING OF REVELATION

While it must be admitted that there are passages, some of great length, in the Revelation that have as their burden, Woe, Judgment and Wrath, it is a joy to record the sevenfold Benediction that runs through the book, linking the opening chapter with the last, and taking its place with the seven seals, seven vials and seven trumpets which are such a feature of this book.

The Sevenfold Blessing

A a 1:1,3. The Angel – Read – Hear – Prophecy – Keep – Time at hand. b 14:11-13. Beast – Image – Mark – Dead – Works follow them.

B 16:13-15. Watch – Keep garments – Demons – Unclean.

C 19:9. Called – Marriage Supper of the Lamb.

A b 20:4-6. First Resurrection – Priests – Reign – Beast – Image. a 22:7,8. The Angel – Keep sayings – Prophecy – I come quickly.

B 22:14,15. Wash – Robes – Enter – Dogs – Sorcerers.

Regarding B 22:14,15 the Authorized Version reads, ‘do His commandments’ but the Revised Version reads, ‘washed their robes’. The Received Text reads, poiountes tas entolas autou, but the Critical Texts (endorses by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, and (Alford) read plunontes tas stolas auton, which superficially looks very like the text used by the Authorized Version, and is the probable cause of the rejected reading.

Certain features are brought into prominence by the disposition of these seven blessings which we must observe, but before doing so, let us note that there are two Greek words translated ‘blessed’, (1) eulogeo, (2) makarios. No. 1 is used in Ephesians 1:3 and No. 2 is used in Romans 4:7. Eulogeo in the form eulogia is the word translated ‘blessings’ in Ephesians 1:3 and occurs three times in the book of the Revelation, but only in ascriptions of praise to the Lamb (Rev. 5:12,13), and to God and the Lamb (Rev. 7:12).

Makarios in classical Greek was strictly an epithet of the gods, who are constantly called makares Theoi as opposed to mortal men. Hence when spoken of men, it indicated a high state of blessedness, and as it was thought that the gods granted no perfect happiness in this life, the term was applied especially to the dead who went to the islands of the blest. (Condensed from Liddell and Scott).

Ewing says in his Lexicon: Makarios/ia happy, blessed, opulent, rich. The gods: the departed residing in Elysium, the abode of the happy after death.

We do not incorporate pagan doctrine into the Scriptures when we use the language spoken by the pagans, but we cannot entirely disassociate usage from words, without destroying them altogether. We cannot avoid seeing a reference to this conception in the words of Revelation 14:13, ‘blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them’. These words have been incorporated in the Burial Service, but the pronouncement here refers to those who withstood all pressure to receive the mark of the beast or to render him worship. Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. The words, ‘from henceforth’, aparti, prevent us from using this blessing of all believers who have fallen asleep, this blessing is dated as so much else is in the Apocalypse. It refers to the particular time of trouble envisaged in Revelation 14:9-12. These, we shall meet again, as overcomers, in Revelation 20:4. Aparti is translated ‘henceforth’ and ‘hereafter’ in Matthew 26:29,64.

Akoloutheo, ‘to follow’ in most of its occurrences, simply means to follow as one man follows another, but in one other occurrence in the Revelation it agrees with the usage in Revelation 14:13:

  • ‘Their works do follow them’ (Rev. 14:13).
  • ‘Her sins have reached unto heaven’ (Rev. 18:5).

Just as God will ‘remember’ and ‘reward’ the sins of Babylon, so He will ‘remember’ and ‘reward’ the martyrs who withstood her evil doctrines and pernicious practices even unto death. Again notice both passages are limited in their scope. Their ‘works’ were a matter of great concern, as we can see by reading Revelation 2 and 3, were the words, ‘I know thy works’ come seven times, or once for each church addressed. These ‘works’ come up for attention at the Great White Throne, (when ‘the rest’ of the dead who make up the one company of which the overcomers of Revelation 20:4 who live and reign for a thousand years are a part), whereas ‘the rest’ await the decision of the Great White Throne. The words, ‘that they may rest from their labours’ (Rev. 14:13) link these overcomers with those spoken of in chapter 6:

  • ‘And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled’ (Rev. 6:11).

Thus does this ‘blessing’ enforce the key … … …

 Posted by at 10:25
Mar 112019
 

THE REST OF THE DEAD

We have seen from the testimony of Scripture itself that the only company of the redeemed for whom the Millennial reign is introduced into the pages of Holy Writ, is the overcomer. Revelation 20:1-10 is the only portion of Scripture that gives positive teaching concerning the Millennium; other Scriptures contain passages that may or do belong to that period, but all other companies of either saved or lost can only be introduced into this kingdom by inference.

The companies mentioned in Revelation 20:1-10 are the following:

  1. The martyrs who withstood the Beast and refused his image. They not only ‘live’ but ‘reign’ with Christ a thousand years.
  2. The ‘rest of the dead’ is another company, only mentioned in order to make it clear that they do not live again until the thousand years are finished.
  3. The overcomers of martyrs are called ‘priests of God and of Christ’.
  4. After the thousand years, ‘nations’ are revealed to have been living during that reign, and some of these nations lived ‘in the four quarters of the earth’.
  5. Inasmuch as the ‘camp of the saints’ and the ‘Beloved City’ could be compassed by these rebellious nations, they too must have been on the earth during the Millennium.

We consider the meaning and bearing of the martyred saints in section 17 of this series. We now round off the study by considering the remaining four items listed above, ‘the rest of the dead’. The Greek word translated ‘rest’ is loipos. ‘Peter and the rest of the apostles’ (Acts 2:37). This implies that Peter also was an apostle.

  • ‘The election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded’ (Rom. 11:7).

Here the ‘election’ and ‘the rest’ both belong to Israël, as the opening of the verse shows. We could not say ‘the election’ (of Israël) and ‘the rest’ (of the Gentiles) without adding an explanatory clause. Loipos occurs in Revelation eight times, thus:

  • Rev. 2:24 – ‘Unto the rest in Thyatira’ not unto the rest of the seven churches, or the rest of the world.
  • 3:2 – ‘Strengthen the things which remain‘.
  • 8:13 – ‘By reason of the other voices’.
  • 9:20 – ‘The rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues’. Plainly not the rest of mankind as a whole’.
  • 11:13 – ‘The remnant were affrighted’.
  • 12:17 – ‘The remnant of her seed’.
  • 19:21 – ‘The remnant were slain’.
  • 20:5 – ‘The rest of the dead lived not again’.

This last reference which directs us to the judgment of the Great White Throne warns us that a special company is envisaged. It is composed of believers, who together with those who were martyred, formed one company, AND NO OTHERS are in view. The wicked dead of all ages will have their judgment, but that is not contemplated here. One company and one only are before us, and that company is divided into two portions: (1) the overcomers, (2) those who were not overcomers, or briefly ‘the rest’. The overcomers live and reign during the thousand years. ‘The rest’ do not live again until the Millennium is over. They do not forfeit ‘life’ necessarily, but they have lost the ‘crown’, a doctrine not confined to any one dispensation as 1 Corinthians 3:10-15; Philippians 3:11-14 and 2 Timothy 2:11-13 will show. This is the first resurrection; the ‘former’ of two, as we have seen earlier.

These overcomers are called ‘priest of God and of Christ’. There seems a need to discriminate once again between the restored nation, which will be a priestly nation on the earth, and this company of priests which exercise their priesthood in the Heavenly City. Let us see. At the foot of Mount Sinai, the whole nation were given the terms by which they could become ‘a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation’. Those terms none have ever kept; with those conditions no one has ever complied (Exod. 19:5,6). Isaiah, visualizing not the old covenant, but the ‘everlasting covenant’ (Isa. 61:8) looked down the age and beheld Israël restored, having the oil of joy instead of mourning, rebuilt and raised up and repaired (Isa. 61:3,4), and named ‘The Priest of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God … the seed which the LORD hath blessed’ (Isa. 61:6-9).

Just as the restored earthly Jerusalem will have a resemblance to the Heavenly City, with its foundations of sapphires, and its gates of agates (Isa. 54:11,12), so we find at the close of Isaiah 61 this restored priestly nation likened also to a bridegroom or to a bride. This must not lead us to confuse this company with the Bride of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7), for Isaiah 54:6-8 makes it clear that Israël as a ‘woman forsaken’ and a ‘wife of youth’ who had been refused, is in view, whereas the Bride, the Lamb’s wife, is not the nation of Israël, once divorced but now restored, but a company of overcomers whose seat of authority is not the earthly but the heavenly Jerusalem, a company that had never known divorcement. When we open the book of the Revelation the first company of the redeemed we meet with are those who say:

  • ‘Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father’ (Rev. 1:5,6).

While all, whoever they may be, and whatever their calling, must have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb, there seems some special reason why it should have been introduced here. The word ‘washed’ is the Greek lousanti, but the best texts read lusanti which means ‘loosed’. Again, redemption sets free, and employs a number of words derived from luo, ‘I loose’. Nevertheless the way in which the word luo is used in the book of the Revelation makes us suspect that something more is intended here in Revelation 1:5,6, than purely evangelical salvation. Let us assemble the occurrences of luo which are seven in number.

Luo in Revelation

  • Rev. 1:5 ‘Loosed us from our sins in His own blood’.
  • 5:2,5 ‘Loose the seals’. ‘Loose the seven seals’.
  • 9:14,15 ‘Loose the four angels’. ‘The four angels were loosed’.
  • 20:3,7 ‘He must be loosed’. ‘Satan shall be loosed’.

Haima, ‘blood’ occurs nineteen times in the Revelation. Four references are to the blood of the Lamb. Thirteen to blood shed or sent in judgment. The four that interest us at the moment are:

  • Rev. 1:5 ‘Loosed us from our sins in His own blood’.
  • 5:9,10 ‘Redeemed us to God … kings and priests’.
  • 7:14 ‘Washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’.
  • 12:11 ‘They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb’.

The references to blood that remain fall into two groups:

(1) The call for vengeance:

  • Rev. 6:10 ‘Avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth’.
  • 16:6 ‘For they have shed the blood of saints and prophets, and Thou hast given them blood to drink; for they are worthy’.
  • ‘Drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus’.
  • 18:24 ‘… and in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth’.
  • 19:2 ‘Avenged the blood of His servants at her hand’.
  • 19:13 ‘He was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood’.

(2) The Judgment by blood:

  • Rev. 6:12 ‘The moon became as blood’.
  • 8:7 ‘Hail and fire mingled with blood’.
  • 8:8 ‘Third part of the sea became blood’.
  • 11:6 ‘Power over waters to turn them to blood’.
  • 14:20 ‘Blood came out of the winepress’.
  • 16:3 ‘The sea … became as the blood of a dead man’.
  • 16:4 ‘Rivers and fountains … became blood’.
  • 16:6 ‘Thou hast given them blood to drink’.
  • 18:24 ‘And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth’.

The recording and the reading of this list is nauseating, but the facts that are recorded will be horrible beyond description. Here again we add one more of the many correspondences which these studies are making with the book of Genesis, namely the solemn words of Genesis 9:6:

  • ‘Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed’.

to which is added both the basic reason and another connection with the Revelation:

  • ‘For in the image of God made He man’.

It is a solemn thing to know that it is possible to ‘blaspheme’ our fellow men who are made in the ‘image’ of God (Titus 3:2 and Rev. 13:6). Idolatry violates that glory conferred upon man as well as the glory of God Himself:

  • ‘They … changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like unto corruptible man … who changed the truth of God into a lie (or “exchanged the glory” for “THE LIE”), and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, Who is blessed for ever. Amen’ (Rom. 1:21-25).

This abandonment leads straight on with excessive abuse of the gift of sex, even as this same evil is seen to preponderate in the book of the Revelation. The worship of the Beast and of his IMAGE dethrones not only God, but man, and turns the whole direction of life toward ‘the lie’, Satan’s counterfeit. Because of this we read of ‘the wrath of God’ (Rom. 1:18).

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No. 3

WRATH

The word orge (translated ‘wrath’) occurs twelve times in Romans, and of these occurrences seven are found in the first great doctrinal division (Rom. 1:1 to 5:11). It is an important word, and seeing that it is placed in distinct relation to righteousness in Romans 1:17,18, it demands a prayerful study. We observe in the first place that ‘wrath’ is used in the outer portion of Romans only. The word is not used in Romans 5:12 to 8:39. The word ‘wrath’ is not used either of Adam or of man seen in Adam. Judgment, condemnation and death there are, but unaccompanied by wrath. There is no wrath either in connection with the lake of fire, or the great white throne in Revelation 20. All is calm, books are opened, everyone is dealt with in pure justice. Wrath, anger, indignation, fury, these words are of a different category.

Many times do we read that the wrath or the anger of the Lord was ‘kindled’, as in Exodus 4:14, or of wrath ‘waxing hot’, as in Exodus 22:24, or of His anger ‘smoking’ (Psa. 74:1), and of it being poured out in ‘fury’ (Isa. 42:25). The nature of the wrath of Romans 1:18, and of the day of wrath with which it is connected (Rom. 2:5), is discovered in the book of Revelation. Those upon whom this wrath is poured are the ‘nations’, and the time is the time of the dead that they should be judged and rewarded (Rev. 11:18; 19:15). This wrath falls particularly upon Babylon (Rev. 16:19), and in direct connection with its idolatry and uncleanness (Rev. 14:8-10), Babylon is in view in Romans 1:18-32. There we see that Satanic system in all its naked horror; there we see the domination of darkness and the lie. In this section we read of those who by their deeds are ‘worthy of death’, and who ‘have pleasure’ in deeds of evil (Rom. 1:32). This section therefore is connected with wrath.

There is much to be learned by comparing 1 and 2 Thessalonians with the passage in Romans:

  • ‘Wrath … revealed from heaven‘ (Rom. 1:18).
  • ‘The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven‘ (2 Thess. 1:7).
  • ‘When they knew God, they glorified Him not as God … They did not like to retain God in their knowledge’ (Rom. 1:21,28).
  • ‘In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God‘ (2 Thess. 1:8).
  • ‘They … have pleasure in them that do them’ (Rom. 1:32).
  • ‘They … had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thess. 2:12).
  • ‘They changed the truth of God into the lie‘ (Rom. 1:25).
  • ‘They received not … the truth … they … believe the lie‘ (2 Thess. 2:10,11).
  • ‘They changed the glory of … God into an image made like to … man‘ (Rom. 1:23).
  • Man of sin … shewing himself that he is God’ (2 Thess. 2:3,4).
  • Wrath … revealed … idolatry‘ (Rom. 1:18-25).
  • ‘Ye turned to God from idols … delivered … from the wrath to come’ (1 Thess. 1:9,10).
  • ‘God also gave them up to uncleanness‘ (Rom. 1:24).
  • ‘Not in the lust of concupiscence, even as the Gentiles which know not God’ (1 Thess. 4:5).

If we also bring together the parallels that we find in the book of the Revelation, we shall have a full reference to that Satanic system of iniquity commenced at Babel, dominating the nations of the earth from that time onward until judged at the Coming of the Lord in the day of wrath.

The reference in Romans 1:19,20 to the evidence of creation finds an echo in the Revelation.

So in the days when Babylon and its system shall be revived and in full power, the ‘everlasting gospel’ will be preached, which gospel is nothing more nor less than a proclamation of the Lord as Creator.

  • ‘Fear God, and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment is come: and worship Him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters. And there followed another angel, saying, Babylon is fallen, is fallen’ (Rev. 14:7,8).

There is a slight alteration in the words translated ‘change’ in these verses in the Authorized Version of Romans 1. We have attempted to indicate the difference by using ‘change’ and ‘exchange’. First they changed the glory of God without actually giving up God altogether, but this soon led to the next step, for they exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and then worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator. It is not possible for God to take second place. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Into the third item we cannot go. The defiling character of idolatry may be gathered from its annals, and we do not feel that any good purpose would be served by elaborating this revolting subject here. At the same time we know only too well that human nature is not a whit better today than when it openly practised the sins condemned in Romans 1. We need faithfully to warn the rising generation, speaking very tenderly and lovingly, yet nevertheless plainly, for Babylonianism in all its forms is rising like a flood, and the book of the Revelation reveals Romans 1 in a superlative degree. We need not go so far into the future as the book of Revelation, however, for 2 Timothy 3:1-8 uses many of the words of Romans 1 to describe the perilous times at the close of this present dispensation. The sequence of the apostasy and its relation to the development of the mystery of iniquity otherwise called ‘the lie’, and the mystery of godliness, otherwise called ‘the truth’, can be traced through Paul’s epistles.

Taking the statement of Romans 1 we find them worked out in the other epistles.

A comparison of the list of sins in Romans 1 with that of 2 Timothy 3:1-7 will show how completely the parallel is recorded. The reader must supply further parallels by studying the intervening epistles.

(1) ‘As God’. ‘The creature more than the Creator’. — ‘That man of sin … as God‘ (2 Thess. 2:3-4).

(2) ‘The lie’. ‘The truth’. — ‘They received not the love of the truth … they … believe the lie‘ (2 Thess. 2:10-11).

(3) ‘Given up to an undiscerning mind’. — ‘God shall send them strong delusion’ (2 Thess. 2:11).

(4) ‘Pleasure in them that do them’. — ‘Had pleasure in unrighteousness’ (2 Thess. 2:12).

(5) ‘Neither were thankful’. — ‘God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth’ (1 Tim. 4:3,4),

Another feature that contributes to the build-up of the actual purpose that runs throughout the Revelation is the use of the title ‘Lamb’, arnion.

Apart from the one reference, John 21:15, ‘feed my lambs’, the remaining twenty-nine occurrences are all found in the Revelation. Although the first thought that comes into mind when we think of Christ as ‘The Lamb of God’ is the One Who takes away the sin of the world, no such association is made in the Revelation. We read of ‘the wrath of the Lamb’ and even of those who ‘drink of the wrath of God’ … in the presence of the Lamb’ (Rev. 6:16; 14:10). We read of ‘the throne of the Lamb’ and of ‘the marriage of the Lamb’ and ‘the book of life of the Lamb’ (Rev. 22:!; 19:7; 13:8). We read of those who overcome by ‘the blood of the Lamb’; of those who are ‘first-fruits’ unto God and to the Lamb, and of those who sing the song of Moses … and of the Lamb, with which the seven vials of wrath is associated (Rev. 12:11; 14:4; 15:3-8). The only time that redemption is associated with the Lamb is in Revelation 5:9 and 14:3,4. At the opening of the sealed book by ‘the Lamb that had been slain’ a new song was sung: ‘Thou wast slain and hast redeemed us (or them) to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us (or them) unto our God KINGS and PRIESTS: and we (they) SHALL REIGN on (over) THE EARTH’. Epi is translated ‘over’ in Revelation 2:26; 6:8; 13:7; 16:9 and 17:18. Another new song is recorded in Revelation 14:3,4 where once more redemption is found:

  • ‘The hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth … these were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruit unto God and to the Lamb’.

These are exclusive and exceptional, but they are the only ones ‘redeemed’ so far as this book is concerned. Redemption in the evangelical sense, as deliverance from sin and issuing in forgiveness, does not enter into the record. We come then once again to Revelation 20:6. These ‘priests of God and of Christ’ who ‘reign with Him’ are not an earthly priesthood, they are heavenly, and minister and reign from their exalted position in the Heavenly Jerusalem. Heaven has its ‘Temple’ (Rev. 11:19; 15:5,6,8), its ‘Ark’ (Rev. 11:19), its ‘Altar’ (Rev. 8:3), its ‘Incense’ (Rev. 8:3,4) and consequently has a heavenly priesthood. The ‘overcomer’, his suffering, his endurance, his deliverance and his reign as a priest with Christ in the heavenly Jerusalem, is the theme of the Apocalypse, and limits the use of the word ‘millennium’ so much that every passage from either the Old or New Testament which is labelled ‘Millennial’ by countless commentators, must be challenged lest by a zeal without knowledge we rob the Millennium of its distinctive character and are found entertaining instead a vision of our own hearts. The ‘nations’, the ‘camp’ and the ‘beloved city’ are of necessity on the earth during the Millennial reign, but have no such distinct place in it as do these overcomers. We must consider their place in another article. Meanwhile to any who may be disturbed or even angry, we still commend the Berean spirit, ‘search and see’, for you may never ‘see’ if you avoid the ‘search’.

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No. 4

THE LITTLE SEASON

After the thousand years during which the overcomers reign with Christ, Satan will be let loose from the abyss, and go out to ‘deceive’ once more. We already know that much that is found in Genesis finds its sequel in the Revelation. Here, maybe, is just another of those illuminating correspondences. We may often have wondered at the sudden entry of the ‘serpent’ into Genesis 3, with his great deception. If, as we have already seen, ‘the deep’ of Genesis 1:2 which is translated ‘the abyss’ or ‘bottomless pit’ by the Septuagint, if that ‘deep’ had been his prison, could he not have been loosed at the close of some definite period (and see the minute exactness of the time in Revelation 9:15) to test and try the newly created Adam? However, this is not our theme. What are we to understand by the ‘little season’? The word that should be translated ‘season’ is the Greek word kairos, whereas in Revelation 20:3 the word is chronos, ‘time’.

Kairos in Revelation

  • Rev. 1:3 ‘The time is at hand’.
  • 11:18 ‘The time of the dead’.
  • 12:12 ‘He hath but a short time’.
  • 12:14 ‘A time, and times, and half a time’.
  • 22:10 ‘The time is at hand’.

Two references stand out for consideration here:

  • ‘Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a SHORT TIME’ (Rev. 12:12).

In this chapter Satan is given his full title:

  • ‘The great dragon … that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth’ (Rev. 12:9).

‘The dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan’ shall be loosed out of prison when the thousand years are finished, and shall ‘go out to deceive the nations’ ‘for a little season’. He knew that he had ‘a short time’, he is let loose for ‘a little season’. The word used in Revelation 20:3 is chronos:

  • Rev. 2:21 ‘I gave her SPACE to repent’.
  • 6:11 ‘They should rest yet for a LITTLE SEASON’.
  • 10:6 ‘There should be TIME no longer’.
  • 20:3 ‘He must be loosed a LITTLE SEASON’.

These occurrences seem to explain one another. Thus, the word of the mighty angel, immediately preceding the voice of the seventh angel when the mystery of God should be finished, and the kingdom set up (Rev. 10:7;11:5) instead of declaring that ‘time’ should cease, which is contradicted by the references to time, days, nights, months and years that are found later in the book, to say nothing of the explicit statement, that there will be a kingdom lasting for a thousand years declares that there will be ‘space to repent’ no longer, and chapter 10 is immediately preceded by the words:

  • ‘Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, not of their fornication, nor of their thefts’ (Rev. 9:21).

Under the fifth seal, where the martyrs are told to rest for a little season, we find similar words to those used in Revelation 20:4. These were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held. The white robes given to them link them with those that come out of ‘The Tribulation, the great one’. He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them, and the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them (Rev. 7:12-17). This tribulation is the same as that of Matthew 24:21,29 which is followed immediately by the coming of the Son of Man with power and great glory. This coming must be the same as that of Revelation 19. The reference to the throne shows that these overcomers are linked with the heavenly Jerusalem:

  • ‘A throne was set in heaven … in the midst of the throne … four beasts (living creatures) … in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb … the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it’ (i.e. the New Jerusalem) (Rev. 4:2,6,8; 5:6; 22:3).

The fact that the Devil will only be loosed a ‘little season’ shows how rapid will be the deception of the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth. These nations will have kept as far from the beloved city as possible, and by their attack upon the camp of the saints and of the beloved city they reveal their innate, though covert, animosity. This time there will be no further respite ‘fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them’ (Rev. 20:9). The fact that such a trial should be necessary after the thousand years, declares plainly that the Millennium was no more sinless and perfect and secure than was the garden of Eden in the beginning. Man, tried in the most advantageous conditions, yielded, and man after a thousand years when the Devil shall be under restraint, manifest that no delegated authority, or advantageous environment is enough to bring in that perfect kingdom which the Son will deliver up to God even the Father. That kingdom follows the Millennium, but it is not the purpose of the Apocalypse to do more than lead up to it, which it does in its two closing chapters.

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No. 5

THE HEAVENLY JERUSALEM

In the epistle to the Galatians ‘Jerusalem’ is mentioned five times. Three of these occurrences refer to Jerusalem, the literal city on earth, to which Paul went to see Peter (Gal. 1:17,18; 2:1). In the allegory of Galatians 4, Sinai in Arabia answers to Jerusalem ‘which now is’, but those who form the unity expressed in Galatians 3:28,29 belong to ‘Jerusalem which is above’ (Gal. 4:26). There can be no doubt as to the intention of that word which translates ‘above’ the Greek ano. ‘Filled up to the brim‘ (John 2:7). ‘Beneath … above’ (John 8:23). ‘In heaven above … in earth beneath’ (Acts 2:19), are some examples. When we are exhorted to set our affection on things above, we are also told that such things are (1) not on the earth, and (2) they are where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God (Col. 3:1,2). Jerusalem which is above therefore is in contrast with the Jerusalem which is on the earth. It is not only heavenly in character, it is also heavenly in situation. When this city is mentioned in Revelation, it is called:

  • ‘New Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God’ (Rev. 3:12).

This feature is repeated in chapter 21:2 and 10:

  • ‘And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven’.
  • ‘And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God’.

For the moment we leave the question as to when this city descends and consider the place that it occupies in the epistle to the Hebrews, the only other portion of the New Testament that speaks of it. This is found in Hebrews 12:22, where we read:

  • ‘But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem’.

This, as in Galatians 4, is in contrast with Mount Sinai. This city is moreover inhabited by an innumerable company of angels, and angels, while they visited the earth on missions of blessing or judgment, are designated as ‘the angels of heaven’ in the Scriptures. In Hebrews 11 we see how the vision of this city influenced Abraham, for it is written:

  • ‘These all died in faith … and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth … they seek a country … they desired a better country, that is, an heavenly … God … hath prepared for them a city’ (Heb. 11:13-16).

For this, Abraham was willing to be a tent dweller, ‘for he looked for a city which hath (the) foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ (Heb. 11:9,10). We learn from Isaiah that when God calls Israël to Himself as a woman forsaken, as a wife of youth, when refused, who for a little time had been under the cloud of wrath, and under the hiding of His face, He declares:

  • ‘I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires. And I will make thy windows of agates, and thy gates of carbuncles, and all thy borders of pleasant stones’ (Isa. 54:11,12).

Here, this city is seen to be an earthly reflection of the heavenly Jerusalem, but must not be confused with it. One feature alone shows that the two cities are distinct. The gates of the one are of carbuncles, the gates of the Heavenly Jerusalem were ‘every several gate of one pearl’ (Rev. 21:21), consequently there can be no confusing of these two cities, beautiful as they both will be. The city of Isaiah 54 may be invested by an enemy, and the promise that no weapon that is formed against it shall prosper (Isa. 54:15-17), but there is no thought in the Apocalyps that the Heavenly Jerusalem will ever be, or ever could be, thus threatened. The city that Abraham looked for cannot be the city of Isaiah 54, it must have been the city of Revelation 21 and 22. Some difficulty may be experienced by the reader when he reads the dimensions of the heavenly Jerusalem, given in Revelation 21:16:

  • ‘And the city lieth foursquare, and the length is as large as the breadth: and he measured the city with the reed, twelve thousand furlongs. The length and the breadth and the height of it are equal’.

Commenting on this verse, and the problem that arises, Dr. Bullinger wrote in his Apocalypse, ‘In this case the city will be 1,500 miles high’, and referring to another system of measurement says, ‘Is 375 miles high easier to believe than 1,500?’ We know that great changes will take place, not only in the Holy Land but in the earth at large, and so a city of these vast proportions set in the centre of a world in which there was ‘no more sea’, need not be disproportionate. However, an article in ‘The Faith‘ suggested that the 12,000 furlongs refers to the area of the square base, and the square root of 12,000 is 109, which taking the stadium to be 582 feet (see Twentieth Century Dictionary) gives about 12 MILES for the length of one of the square sides. By comparing this with Ezekiel 48:35 the 18 thousand measures, or reeds of six cubits would give us, with 25 inches to a cubit, a circumference of 42.6 miles, which, divided by four, gives 10.6 miles for one side and so practically identical with the suggested measurement given above. This means, if it be true, that the Heavenly Jerusalem would descend and rest upon the basis formed by the restored Jerusalem on earth. A city twelve miles square is a reasonable proportion, and twelve miles in height could symbolize worldwide dominion, 12 denoting governmental perfection. However we are perfectly sure that when the day of fulfillment comes, there will be perfect harmony between the event and the prophetic record. Whatever the size of the city may be, it will fulfill perfectly the purpose for which it was prepared. It will be the jewelled centre of the new earth. We return now to the question, when will the New Jerusalem descend? When the New Jerusalem descends from heaven, there will be:

  • ‘no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: FOR THE FORMER THINGS ARE PASSED AWAY’ (Rev. 21:4).
  • ‘He that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make ALL THINGS NEW’ (Rev. 21:5).

The arrangement of the material of Revelation 21:1-5 is as follows:

A 21:1. NEW Heaven and Earth.

B 21:1. FORMER – He Prote – Passed away.

C 21:1. NO MORE Sea (ref. to Gen. 1:2).

B 21:2. I SAW New Jerusalem.

B 21:3. I HEARD – Tabernacle.

C 21:4 NO MORE Death, sorrow, pain (ref. to Gen. 3).

B 21:4. FORMER – Ta Prota – Passed away.

A NEW All things.

The New Jerusalem which is also The Tabernacle, is unlike the tabernacle in the wilderness which was limited to Israël; this is now ‘with MEN’, anthropos. The Tabernacle, made after the pattern shown to Moses in the mount, in a wilderness, limited to Israël, and temporary as a tent, but forshadowed this bejewelled city when all families of the new earth shall ultimately be brought into blessing. The New Jerusalem evidently descends from heaven to rest upon the New Earth. During the Millennium therefore it must have been in the heavens. This raises another question. Do those who are destined to walk its golden streets, enter into their inheritance:

  1. At the commencement of the Millennium reign, or
  2. Do they have to wait until the 1,000 years are finished, if so
  3. Are they not raised from the dead until the 1,000 years are finished, or
  4. Where are they during that time?

The overcomer, among other things is to be made:

  1. A pillar in the temple of God.
  2. He is to have written upon him the name of God, and the name of the city of God, new Jerusalem, which cometh down of heaven from God.
  3. The overcomer begins his reign with Christ at the commencement of the 1,000 years (Rev. 20:4,5).

From other Scriptures we gather that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob will sit down in the kingdom of heaven, and the reference to the ‘east and west’ shows that his refers to the earth (Matt. 8:11), yet Abraham looked for a heavenly, not an earthly, country or city, and God has prepared for him ‘a city’ (Heb. 11:16). We also learn that ‘In the generation’ the apostles shall sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israël, presumably on the earth, while all the time we read that the foundations of the heavenly city were made up of twelve precious stones, bearing the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb (Rev. 21:14,19,20). Moreover, the gates are twelve and bear the names of the twelve tribes of Israël, yet the twelve tribes as such will inherit the land as Ezekiel 48 reveals, and not the heavenly city, for that is reserved for the overcomer. It is evident, therefore, that the overcomer will enter the New Jerusalem while it is still in heaven, and will reign and rule over the earth, with that city as the seat of authority, even as the Satanic counterfeit reigned over the people, multitudes, nations and tongues in the mock Pre-Millennial kingdom of the Beast.

When the Millennium closes, and the Day of God succeeds the Day of the Lord, the earth will then receive this resplendent city, and the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. What Jerusalem on the earth during the Millennium partly accomplished (for feigned obedience, and the rise of Gog and Magog indicate that the influence of Jerusalem was not universally complete) the Heavenly Jerusalem will accomplish. It is this kingdom which is envisaged in 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 which will ultimately be delivered up to God, even the Father, and the goal of the ages be attained, and ‘eternity’ (for the want of better word) begins. This, however, lies beyond the limits of the Apocalypse.

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No. 6

THE EVE OF THE MILLENNIUM

The intense desire for peace on earth and good will toward men, which is one of the deepest yearnings of the individual, but which is so regularly frustrated by the clash of national interests, leads the mind of the believer to dwell on such a passage as Isaiah 2:4 with great joy, but seems to have made many turn a blind eye to such a passage as Joel 3:9,10. Let us place them together and consider their import:

  • ‘They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more’ (Isa. 2:4).
  • ‘Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears’ (Joel 3:9,10).

The passage from Isaiah speaks of the Millennium day, when the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, but the passage in Joel deals with days that precede ‘the great and terrible day of the Lord’ (Joel 2:31). In both Joel 2:30,31 and 3:15 the sun shall be turned into darkness, showing that both chapters deal with the same period, namely the very eve of the Millennium. The special feature that calls for fuller consideration is this. The call to beat plowshares into swords, suggests that before this there had been a mock millennium, where the nations of the earth either by intimidation or deception, or both, had beaten their swords into plowshares, and concluded that war had ceased in the earth for ever. Many of those who read these lines have lived through the periods of war that were to ‘end wars’. They have heard of conferences for disarmament and hoped that they would succeed. Such yearnings are natural and right, but they may be ill-timed and, if so, doomed to failure.

Two words sum up the conditions aimed at, ‘Peace and Safety’. Yet we read that at the very time that the day of the Lord comes as a thief in the night, sudden destruction overtakes those whose slogan will be these very words, ‘Peace and Safety’, and they shall not escape (1 Thess. 5:2,3). This ‘Peace and Safety’ is therefore spurious, it is not of God, therefore it must be the false travesty of the Devil, there is no alternative. A false peace can destroy. (See: Daniel 8:25). At the rise of the world’s last dictator (Rev. 13) war will temporarily cease, not because of the conversion of all mankind by grace, but the paralysis of all nations by fear:

  • ‘Who is like unto the beast? who is able to make war with him? (Rev. 13:4).

The figure ‘beating swords into plowshares’ indicates a turn over to the more peaceful employment of labour and resources, which, for a time at least, will bring prosperity, ‘Peace and Safety’. It should be remembered that the chief aim of Satan is to dethroned the Son of God. He, Satan, must deplore that crime and degradation ever follow his efforts to rule this world. If he could have a Millennium without Christ it would suit his aim completely. After six thousand years of blood and misery, Satan will appear to have attained his goal, but the record reveals its utter failure, it lasts ‘one hour’ (Rev. 17:12; 18:10,17,19). Some light upon the extraordinary prosperity that shall characterize this pre-millennium travesty of Satan, is found in the description of Babylon’s merchandise:

  • ‘The merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and fine linnen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beats, and sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves (Gk. bodies), and souls of men’ (Rev. 18:12,13).

Here is a luxury trade, mingled with provision for idolatrous practices giving prominence to ‘costliness’ (Rev. 18:19), and including not only costly goods but ‘the bodies and souls of men’. A Pre-Millennium Kingdom in the absence of Christ is the dream and the goal of the Enemy of Truth. For a brief period he will obtain a superficial semblance to that goal, and then will himself be brought to an ignominious end ‘and never be any more’ (Ezek. 28:19).

Satan did not hesitate to attempt a bargain with the Son of God (Matt. 4:9) and what He, the Blessed One, refused, will prove the bait to catch the Man of Sin (John. 5:43). As a travesty of the mystery of godliness wherein ‘God was manifest in the flesh’ this Son of Perdition will oppose and exalt himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; ‘so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God’ (2 Thess. 2:4). To the end his activities are in the realm of religion and worship, but he, Satan, cannot prevent the crimes that are concomitant.

Worship, not wickedness, is ever in the mind of Satan, Preposterous as it sounds, ‘all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them’ were offered to the Son of God for ONE ACT OF WORSHIP (Matt. 4:9), so much does Satan seek it. The immediate effect of the rise of the Beast of Revelation 13 is the temporary attainment of his very same end:

  • ‘And they worshipped the dragon which gave power unto the beast: and they worshipped the beast … and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed … as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed’ (Rev. 13:4,12,15).

Here is a kingdom and worship which is universal, ‘all that dwell on the earth’. It will bring ‘Peace and Safety’ and a standard of living that can only be described as luxurious. War will have ceased. Swords will have been beaten into plowshares, so that at the end when war is again ‘prepared’ or as the word is literally ‘sanctified’ (Joel 3:9 margin), the nations of the earth who have lived in this Pre-Millennial travesty of the Truth, will have to start all over again to ‘beat’ their ‘plowshares into swords’. The reference in Joel 3 to the valley of Jehoshaphat (3:12) turns us back to a typical incident in Israël’s history as recorded in 2 Chronicles 20. Moab, Ammon and others came against Jehoshaphat to battle. Jehoshaphat, all Judah with their little ones, their wives and their children stood before the Lord in prayer. In answer to their petition a message was sent to them:

  • ‘Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours but God’s (2 Chron. 20:15).

There was no need to fight that battle, all that the people had to do was to set themselves or take their stations, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord:

  • ‘So the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet: for his God gave him rest round about’ (2 Chron. 20:30).

Jehoshaphat, like David, Solomon and the best of men, was in himself a failure (see: 2 Chron. 20:31-37) but the type still holds. Just as Edom said concerning Jerusalem, ‘Rase it, rase it, even to the foundation thereof’ (Psa. 137:7), so will the nations at the time of the end. Indeed almost identical words have been reported in the Press recently. The Presence of Israël in the Devil’s millennium will prove a great disturbance to the false peace that for the time obtains and so all nations will be gathered against Jerusalem to battle, as in the day of Jehoshaphat, so they will gather again. ‘Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives’ (Zech. 14:3,4).

It is this war upon Jerusalem and Israël that necessitates beating plowshares back again to swords, and which end with the judgment of all the heathen in the ‘valley of decision’. In that day ‘Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah … but Judah shall DWELL FOR EVER, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: even I the LORD that dwelleth in Zion’ (Joel 3:18-21 margin). Here is proof that all the selfsame time that Israël are restored (Joel 3:1) the nations will be gathered unto this valley of Jehoshaphat (Joel 3:2), that at the selfsame time when Judah and Jerusalem are safe for ever, Egypt shall be a desolation. Yet after all this, Isaiah declares that:

  • ‘In that day shall Israël be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, even a blessing in the midst of the land: whom the LORD of Hosts shall bless, saying, Blessed be Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israël Mine inheritance’ (Isa. 19:24,25).

It is an axiom of all rational thought that ‘a thing cannot Be, and NOT BE at the same time’. ‘In that day’ includes too many opposite events to allow us to think of the Millennium as a period of unsullied glory and perfect peace from the beginning of the thousand years to the end. What does fit all that is said, is that Israël will be a nation ‘born at once’ (Isa. 66:8), whereas gross darkness will still envelop most of the nations. Nevertheless, light and truth shall radiate from Zion as a blessed centre, until at last the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea. God’s ordination at the beginning was that ‘the evening and the morning’ should constitute a day. A thousand years in His sight are like a day that is past, and the Millennium day may conform to the same pattern.

The Millennium reign begins with an ‘evening’. When the Lord comes the second time to inaugurate that reign, He comes to MAKE WAR at the first (Rev. 19:11). There is not a word to warrant the idea that at stroke of the clock, the moment the thousand years commence, all will be peace. The Lord will reign in Zion in the midst of enemies. The nations will learn slowly the law of the Lord from Jerusalem, and only as the thousand years (the day of the Lord) come to their close, and the Day of God succeeds, when all delegated authority shall be under the feet of the Son of God, will that kingdom be at length perfected and ready for the day of the Age, the goal of all purpose and prophecy, that God may be all in all (1Cor. 15:28).

It is right for us to look eagerly for that blessed consummation, but it is also right to be on our guard, lest overeagerness should lay us open to the deception of the Devil, and we found pointing the Lord’s people to a travesty of truth, with all its accompanying misery and disillusionment. We make no claim to a complete understanding of the teaching of prophecy, but what we do claim to have done is to insist that all that is written, and not selected passages, is the only safe foundation upon which to build, whether for our individual salvation, or for a true appreciation of the Millennium reign or of the ultimate goal of the ages.

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No. 8

THE CONVERGING LINES OF PROPHETIC TRUTH

While it is true that a Prophet in the Scriptural record did minister to the immediate needs of his own time, the outstanding character of his office was the God-given ability to speak of things to come. Horne says of prophecy:

  • ‘It is a miracle of knowledge, a declaration, or description, or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern or conjecture, and it is the highest evidence that can be given of supernatural communion with the Deity, and of the truth of revelation’.

Bishop Hurd has written of Messianic prophecy:

  • ‘That prophecy is of a prodigious extent; that it commenced from the fall of man and reaches to the consummation of all things; that for many ages it was delivered darkly, to a few persons, and with large intervals from the date of one prophecy to that of another; but, at length, became more clear, more frequent, and was uniformly carried on in the line of one people, separated from the rest of the world, among other reasons assigned, for this principally, to be the repository of the divine oracles … even to the end of time, or, in St. John’s expression, to that period when the mystery of God shall be perfected‘ (Rev. 10:7).

When Peter wrote his second epistle, the testimony of prophecy was being discounted by scoffers who said, ‘where is the promise of His coming?’ This he countered by saying, ‘no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation’, or as Moffatt has it, ‘came by human impulse’ (2 Pet. 1:20). The Greek words are idias epiluseos, and generally speaking bear the translation given in the Authorized Version. But Peter does not appear to be dealing with how to interpret prophecy, but how prophecy came, for he continues:

  • ‘For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost’.

If we retain the rendering, ‘private interpretation’, its first meaning must be, that the prophecies found in the Scriptures are not the private solutions of the prophets of the enigmas confronting them, and secondly, that those of us who read and use those prophecies, must be on our guard, that no one ‘uses’ any prophecy merely as a bolster to support some preconceived theory, which alas has become the dreadful fate of many of these sublime utterances. The completely impersonal character of prophecy is moreover suggested by 1 Peter 1:10,11, where we learn that those prophets who spoke beforehand of salvation, afterwards searched their own writings to discover ‘what, or what manner of time the spirit of Christ which was in them did signify’.

One simple yet most valuable office of prophecy is to act as ‘a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn’ (2 Pet. 1:19). Another is that the ‘spirit of prophecy’ is ‘the testimony of Jesus’ (Rev. 19:10). Within bounds we believe we are not far wrong when we say, that the door of prophecy swings on two things (1) The Return of Christ and (2) The Return of Israël.

Associated with these two great issues is the history and destiny of two cities, Babylon and Jerusalem, and with these two cities, two kingdoms, namely the kingdom of the Beast, and the kingdom of the Lord. Before proceeding with our studies, the present moment seems to be the time to pause and consider this term ‘kingdom’. It has been maintained that our word government comes nearest to expressing the word basileia. First of all let us consider the classical usage of basileia as set out in Liddell and Scott, where we shall discover the way in which the ordinary Greek used the term:B

  • Basileia, a kingdom, dominion, hereditary monarchy opposed to turannis and secondly a diadem.
  • Basileion, a kingly dwelling, palace. The seat of empire, royal city, the royal treasury, a tiara, diadem.
  • Basileios, kingly, royal.
  • Basileus, a king, prince, lord. Frequently with collateral sense of captain or judge, later, and hereditary king, then the king’s son, prince or any one sharing in the government, and at Athens, the second of the nine archons. After the Persian war the king of Persia was called Basileus, so afterwards, the Roman Emperor.
  • Basileutos, under monarchical government.
  • Basileuo, to be king, to rule, to be made king, to rule over a people, to be governed or administered, to be of the king’s party.
  • Basilekos, royal, kingly, like a king, princely.

It will be seen that the primary meaning of all these allied words is king, kingly and kingdom, and this is how a Greek reading the New Testament would interpret them. The secondary meanings of rule or government, are the rule or government of such as are kings or kingly persons. If the word ‘government’ be a truer rendering than the word ‘kingdom’, it is somewhat strange to find that there are two Hebrew and two Greek words translated ‘government’, eleven Hebrew and five Greek words translated ‘governor’; one Chaldee word, and three different Hebrew words for ‘to govern’, and yet not one writer in Scripture uses the Hebrew word for king or kingdom! When we turn to the Hebrew word melek, we find it translated KING 2,518 times and ROYAL twice, while the corresponding Chaldee word is translated KING 164 times and ROYAL one, AND IN NO OTHER WAY.

When we examine the Hebrew melukah, malekuth, mamlakah and mamlakuth, we find that melukah is translated kingdom 18, king’s 2, royal 4; malekuth, empire 1, kingdom 49, realm 4, reign 21, royal 14; malekuth (Chaldee), kingdom 46, realm 3, reign 4, kingly 1; mamlakah, kingdom 108, reign 2, king’s 1, royal 4; mamlakuth, kingdom 8, reign 1 and these words are translated in no other way. Not once is ‘government’ ever used. We have not bordered to count these occurrences. The evidence is overwhelming, and the idea that all this can be set aside by a stroke of the pen, seems too monstrous to need refutation. The reader, who is not already predisposed to any particular theory, may wonder what the driving motive must be that so desperately needs a new translation .

This is not all, however. The words king and kingdom do not stand alone. They are most intimately associated with the insignia of royalty. Throne, Crown, Sceptre are continual adjuncts. Britain has a Government. The United States has a Government, but we have yet to hear of the President’s Coronation, that he occupies a throne, wields a sceptre, or is royal. We therefore most earnestly ask every reader to pause and reconsider should they have been carried away by the novel idea that is refuted by the entire range of Scripture and consider this, that such a translation actually robs the Saviour of HIS CROWN RIGHTS.

The Church (ekklesia) of the One Body is not a kingdom. But the Church (ekklesia) of the One Body has the honour to be translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son (Col. 1:130. The corporation of the city of London or of Birmingham is a ‘body’, but that does not place these bodies outside the kingdom of Great Britain. Let us at least be logical. When Israël wanted to be like the nations they demanded a king. When God transferred earthly rule to Nebuchadnezzar, he transferred it to a king. When at last the Saviour returns, He returns ‘to reign’ and the words of Psalm 2 are definite, ‘Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion’. What conspiracy is this then that has seduced the Lord’s believing people to trifle with the crown rights of Him Who comes ‘to reign’ and to sit upon a ‘throne’? However much kingly rule has failed, God’s conception of rule is still as it always has been, a KINGDOM. The Saviour died with the title over His head, and that sacred Head was crowned, even in derision. When He comes He is seen wearing many crowns, He will be King of kings, and the kingdoms of this world will cease, while the kingdom of the Lord shall be established by God Himself.

If we have entertained the idea that there will be a premillennial kingdom WITHOUT THE PERSONAL PRESENCE OF THE KING we may be disposed to look with favour on the substituted word ‘government’, but we may be after all but acting in the spirit condemned by the Lord in no uncertain terms in Mark 7:9. Howe many of those who have rendered lip-service to the doctrine of inspiration, even to its individual words, and echoed that they were ‘convinced’ have taken the trouble to verify their references? What must be the attitude of mind when faced with the overwhelming evidence just tabulated, which desires the truth of God uncolored by theories of the best of men? To quote the words of the writer whose views we have contested, we too say with all our hearts, with just one necessary personal alteration:

  • ‘Real conviction concerning great truths can come only when we have made our own personal studies and come to our own independent conclusion. My own convictions that basileia means kingdom (“government” in our friend’s statement) are the result of my own studies in the Word. I be believe the reader will come to the same conclusion if he makes his own study of the subject”.

There speaks the true Berean; may the truth prevail. Returning to our introductory notes on Prophecy, we continue to assemble our key passage:

  • ‘When the Lord shall build up Zion He shall appear in His glory’.

A grand crisis is awaiting the world; but it is a Jewish crisis wherein the Holy One of Israël is to be placed in exaltation with His people:

  • ‘There are three great eras of visitation, wherein God has many times appointed a term to His controversy with mankind. The first was the deluge … the second is to be the coming of the Lord Jesus in the power of His dominion, when the Antichrist and those with him, will be destroyed … the last controversy is at the end of the millennium, when sentence is carried out upon the rebel nations of that period’ (T.L. Strange).

To observe and record these converging crises, will form a part of our immediate inquiry.

To attain to some fairly comprehensive understanding of the converging lines of prophecy will enable us to see with some measure of clarity the place that less pronounced and problematic portions occupy.

Ecclesiastes says:

  • ‘Better is the END of a thing than the beginning thereof’ (Eccles. 7:8).

Asaph attained to peace, and a solution of his problems, when he went within the sanctuary of God, for then he ‘understood their END’, and understanding the end of the wicked, he no longer envied them their transient exemption from ‘trouble’ (Psa. 73). Daniel was intensely interested to discover ‘the end’ of the things revealed to him:

  • ‘O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things?” (Dan. 12:8).

and speaks too of the ‘time of the end’. Let us pause, therefore, in our pursuit of the great goal of prophecy to consider more carefully the import of this phrase THE TIME OF THE END. Take, for example, this terrible statement of Ezekiel:

  • ‘Remove the mitre, and take off the crown: this shall be no more the same: exalt that which is low, and abase that which is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: this also shall be no more, until He come Whose right it is; and I will give it Him’ (Ezek. 21:26,27 R.V.).

‘Until He come’. This can refer to none but Christ Himself and His Second Coming. Until that takes place, chaos abides, neither Priest (mitre) nor King (crown) remains, and we are in the atmosphere of Hosea 3, Israël’s lo-ammi condition. If there is to be a kingdom in the absence of Christ, before the millennium, Ezekiel evidently had no knowledge of it. One can be excused if he fails to see the possibility of about 500 years of enlightenment anywhere in these two verses. There is no ambiguity about the word ‘until’ (Hebrew ad.). No interval can be permitted in such a sentence as, ‘Thou shalt eat bread till thou return unto the dust’, neither can one be interpolated here.

We find that Daniel was very concerned to know more about the fourth beast of chapter 7. We learn from the vision in that chapter the sequence of events up to the coming of the Son of Man with the clouds of heaven. They can be epitomized as follows:

  • (1) Four diverse beasts are to arise up from the sea.
  • (2) The description is that the: First is like a lion – Second is like a bear – Third is like a leopard – Fourth is indescribable.

Now it is obvious that the Beast from the sea in Revelation 13, is none other than this fourth beast of Daniel 7, and combines in itself the preceding symbols:

  • ‘And the beast which I saw was like unto a leopard, and his feet were as the feet of a bear, and his mouth as the mouth of a lion: and the dragon gave him his power, and his seat (throne), and great authority’ (Rev. 13:2).
  • (3) Thrones were set (cast down as cushions, not overthrown) and the Ancient of Days did sit, a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him, and …
  • (4) The beast was slain, and his body destroyed and given to the burning flame. In Revelation 19, at the Apocalypse of Christ, John says:
  • ‘The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped him image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone’ (Rev. 19:20).

By comparing these words with Revelation 13:12-15 we are in no doubt but that the Coming of Christ comes immediately after the reign of this anti-christian beast, namely, at the close of a period of forty-two months, of which more presently.

  • (5) This beast developed ten horns, and one in particular had ‘a mouth that spake very great things’:
  • ‘He shall speak great words against the most High, and shall wear out the saints of the most High … and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time’ (Dan. 7:25).

In Revelation 13 we read:

  • ‘And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months … And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them’ (Rev. 13:5-7).

We have noted the period denominated forty and two months, and time, and times and the dividing of time. In Revelation 11:2,3 we have a similar period, here given as forty and two months and 1,260 days. In Revelation 12:6 this number of days is repeated, and equated in verse 14 with the cryptic enumeration, ‘for a time, and times, and half a time’. Now, this period of time is 3.5 years, and the peculiar mode of reckoning links these chapters once more with the book of Daniel namely in Daniel 7:25 and in 12:7. The prophecy of Daniel 9 speaks of a period of time as ‘the midst of the week’ (9:27), and if in this prophecy a week, or heptad, is a period of seven years, then here in Daniel 9:27 we reach the same period that we have found in Revelation 12 and 13 and so, by the other links, with Revelation 19.

The image that formed the basis of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and Daniel’s great prophecy of Gentile dominion extends to the time of the end.

Whatever difference of opinion there may be as to wether Rome was the fourth in the list, or wether, owing to the rejection of Christ, the fourth kingdom is the one at the end, does not for the moment alter the fact that the END of Gentile dominion, and the BEGINNING of the kingdom of God upon earth synchronize, there is no possible room for an interval of 5 MINUTES, let alone 500 YEARS between the impact of the Stone cut without hands and the filling of the whole earth. Here are the inspired words:

  • ‘Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. THEN was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces TOGETHER, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth. This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king …
  • ‘And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever’ (Dan. 2:34-36,44).

Another feature that demands attention is ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’ or ‘the great tribulation’; that too must find its place in the Divine scheme, and its Scriptural association must be noted:

  • ‘I will bring again the captivity of My people Israël and Judah, saith the LORD: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it … Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. For it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will break his yoke from off thy neck, and will burst thy bonds, and strangers shall no more serve themselves of him: but they shall serve the LORD their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them … And ye shall be My people, and I will be your God’ (Jer. 30:3,7-9,22).

The context of this time of Jacob’s trouble is the time when both Israël and Judah shall be saved ‘from the land of their captivity’ and they have the assurance, that ‘though I make a full end of all nations wither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished’ (Jer. 30:10,11). Jeremiah 30 reads straight on to Jeremiah 31 where the Lord announces the bringing in of the New Covenant and the return and settlement of Israël as a nation for ever. This time of tribulation is spoken of by Daniel:

  • ‘And at that time (not the connection with the preceding anti-christian events, with no interval possible) shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time (the time note repeated) thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever’ (Dan. 12:1-3).

The closing words of this reference are referred to by our Lord in Matthew 13:40-43 in the Parable of the Wheat and Tares:

  • ‘Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father’,

and link the days in which Heaven’s King was rejected, and when the ‘mystery’ form of the kingdom took the place of positive prophecy, with the days yet to come when the mystery of God shall be finished.

This unprecedented and unrepeated time of tribulation is referred to by the Saviour in Matthew 24, and is related by Him with epoch-making events:

  1. To the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place as foretold by Daniel in Daniel 9:27 (Matt. 24:15).
  2. To the Second Coming of the Lord (Matt. 24:30).
  3. To the day when the tribes of the land (Zech. 12:12) shall mourn when they shall see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
  4. This is the moment when Israël shall look on Him Whom they have pierced, and when a fountain shall be opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness, and when in all the land two parts shall be cut off and die, but the third shall be left and brought the refining fire, and will become once more ‘My people’ (Zech. 12:9,10; 13:1,8,9).
  5. This is the sunteleia, the harvest gathering at the end of the age, as foreshadowed in the feast of the ingathering in Exodus 23:16, where the LXX reads sunteleia, the word used in Matthew 24:3.

All these prophecies synchronize at the time of the End, the time when the Stone strikes the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, when Gentile dominion is destroyed, and the kingdom that shall never pass away is set up.

We have to consider many other aspects of prophetic truth but as honest Bereans before God, and as desiring to know and believe all that God has spoken we must bear witness, but so far we cannot and dare not introduce any other kingdom than that of ‘the Beast’ before the Millennial Reign of Christ, and if because we see this, we are obliged as before God, to speak of this subject many times in this analysis, we do so because we desire to be ‘pure from the blood of all men’.

By Charles H. Welch ‘The Berean Expositor’ – London.

http://www.bereanonline.org

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Nieuws vanuit het Midden-Oosten:

http://www.israeltoday.nl

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Centrum Informatie Documentatie Israël:

http://www.cidi.nl

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LIKOED NEDERLAND:

http://www.likud.nl

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Studies vanuit de grondtalen / Hebreews en Grieks:

http://www.levendwater.org

http://www.everread.nl

http://www.bereanonline.org

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De Messiaans-Joodse identiteit in Nederland:

http://www.hadderech.nl

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 22:24
Jan 282019
 
SOMETHING HAD BEEN COMMITTED TO HIM!

What did Paul mean when he said, SOMETHING HAD BEEN COMMITTED TO HIM? To begin with it’s not a very common English word, is it? We don’t often use it. Fortunately, the answer is in 2 Timothy. Now this word ‘commit’ is translated in some translations, ‘a deposit’, and it does mean to deposit, but that doesn’t really cover the meaning of the Greek word. The Greek word means to ‘entrust’. Not only to pass something on to somebody else, but something that was worthwhile, something that was precious. You don’t entrust people to look after silly, empty things do you? The very fact that you ask someone to look after it, is because it’s worth something. Oh yes! And believe me this is God’s truth that was committed. ‘But who’s doing it?’ ‘Do you link it with Paul? Do we leave it with Paul? Do we go to the Ephesian writings or James or John?’ Well let’s actually see for ourselves.

When you come to 2 Timothy you will know that this is Paul’s last letter, his second letter to Timothy. And there was a very close relationship between them, it was like a father and a son. He tells Timothy in 2 Tim. 1:13: ‘Hold fast the form of sound words … ‘ Looks at verse 12. If you look at the Revised Version, middle section, you’ll find it’s just the opposite. Not what Paul had committed to God, but what God had committed to Paul, just the opposite. Now you may say to me, ‘but both can’t be right’. Well it so happens, they can! The Greek can read either way, but it is the other way that fits the context. It’s not what Paul had committed to the Lord — he committed a lot, of course he did — but that’s not what he’s talking about to Timothy. It’s what the Lord had committed to him. What the Lord had entrusted, that’s the meaning of the word. Paul had been entrusted by Christ with precious truths, and some of them are so unique as we shall probably see if we’ve got time. These things are so wonderful that ordinary words just can’t express them, all of them together. Bearing that in mind, look at 2 Tim. 1:14: ‘That good thing which was committed unto thee guard … ‘ That’s the modern translation, and it’s correct. It’s more than just keep it — guard it, it’s precious. If you let it go you’re letting something tremendous go, and it doesn’t belong to you. IT’S GOD’S! God has entrusted it to you. Friends, that’s what He’s done with all His Truth — do you realize that? When we get to know the Bible, it ‘isn’t ours in the sense that we made it up, not a bit of it. God has given it to us as a marvelous gift, and: He wants us to do something with It, of course. And this is the point of Christian witness and Christian service. This is something of tremendously practical actions which arise from realizing that this is something for a short time that God’s put into my hands, and into yours TO DO SOMETHING WITH FOR HIM. To pass it on! Look at chapter 2 of 2 Timothy. Notice he doesn’t say, ‘pull yourself up young man, and get on with it!’ No, he tells him where he can get the strength from. It is silly to say to a person, ‘be strong’, just as if you can automatically make yourself strong — you can’t, but God can make you strong. God can make me strong. That’s where one’s strength comes! 2 Tim. 2:2 here’s the word ‘commit’ again, ‘deposit’, ‘entrust’. To anybody? NO! To ‘faithful’, absolutely reliable ‘men’. This is something that God values. He’s not going to put it into the hands of people He can ‘t rely on. And Paul says to Timothy: ‘You watch it too, that you don’t pass it on to people who are not worthy of it, but to who will be faithful and can be trusted … ‘ Nearly 2000 years have gone by since that was written, marvelous isn’t it! And so it’s been passed on. Friends, it has come down to us. If we say that we love the Bible, if we say that we love all that we read here, alright, good! BUT WHAT ARE WE DOING WITH IT? That’s the thing that matters.

One day, the Apostle Paul tells us and tells us twice, we’ve all got to stand before the judgment seat of Christ. Now don’t get that wrong, or dear me, I’ve got to think of all my sins, He will see all my sins. The question of sins are all finished with. These are people who are saved, whose sins have been borne by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself on the cross — they’re finished with forever. No, it’s what we’ve done after our salvation! What sort of people have we been? Have we been loyal? Have we sought to pass on the TRUTH to others? This is the important thing. This is what this man’s last letter impresses Timothy with! Paul knew that this would possibly by his last letter, and surely he’s not going to waste his time saying silly nothings to this young fellow. It is going to be ABSOLUTE essentials. This is his last opportunity to speak to him, although he said: ‘Come and see me as soon as you can’ (2 Tim. 4:9). I suppose as could be said in English, ‘I can’t last much longer”’ I’m going to give my life for the Saviour’. He knew that that was coming, of course. This was his last writing.

Now note this phrase, Timothy, ‘the things that you have heard of me’. That’s important for this young fellow because the Acts tells us that he often travelled with Paul on his missionary journey. So with that strong tie between them he not only could read all the letters Paul had written, but he would also remember all the things which he heard him say. I’ve often thought, oh, if I could only hear Paul give one address personally — wouldn’t that be marvellous! But Timothy heard them over and over again. Now this tells us then what was committed to him: ‘all that’s committed  to me, I’m passing it on to you now’. So for this we have to keep to the epistles of the Apostle Paul. Now don’t misunderstand me. I’ve heard people say. ‘Well, Stuart thinks the Bible is about five epistles’. I’ve never said any such things. There are some things that are true for all times, and they are the basis. The gospel of God’s grace is exactly given by the Apostle Peter, the Apostle John, as the Apostle Paul. God hasn’t got two different ways of saving the sinner. It’s the same all the time because it looks back to that one great offering for sin of Christ Himself on the cross. He took them all. He suffered the punishment for all of us so that we shouldn’t have to suffer for ever. God’s the righteous Judge. Yes, sin has to be atoned for. There is a price to pay for it, and the Lord paid that price, that is finished! It could be said then, ‘having forgiven you some trespasses?’ No, it says ‘ALL’ (Col. 2:13), ‘having forgiven you ALL sins’. And when God says ‘ALL’  He means it. Isn’t that marvelous? I know what some people will say, ‘Oh that’s dangerous, you don’t want to tell people that. They’ll go and say, ‘ … I’ll go and sin, go on sinning as much as I want to because He’s forgiven them all’. Oh no you can’t! You can of course, but if you do it you are doing something very dangerous!

BECAUSE there is something you can lose which is the crown or this prize on top of salvation. That’s what such a person will lose for eternity. Again it’s this letter, 2 Timothy, that tells you that we shall all live with Christ if we’ve been saved, BUT shall we reign with Him? NO! … And it’s that reigning that people are going to lose forever. You and I can’t play about with the things of God. No indeed! We have got to be as the Word tells us over and over again — utterly and absolutely reliable, faithful! Full of FAITH, full of trust. So the answer to this young man’s question is, ‘You have to go then to the things that Paul said: ‘you’ve heard of me‘, and those things he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write. Paul wasn’t giving his ideas or thoughts, indeed not! He was the medium that God was using’. So having said all that, well now I have to say to myself, this marvelous thing or this marvelous deposit that’s been entrusted to Paul, what am I going to say about that. I couldn’t possibly go over all of it, so I’ll just mention some of it.

In this calling (and it comes after the Acts, after the Nation of Israël which had dominating all the way through since the day of Abraham) is this new revelation, this new secret which God had made known. And the marvelous word in Colossians, which is the sister Epistle to the Ephesians of course, God wishes, wants to make this secret known. So He’s not holding back. If the people don’t know it, they’re not keen to know, they never ask, they never search, never go to the right place to find out. God by His Holy Spirit, the Great Revealer of Truth, is ready to make it known to ALL who sincerely want it, and go to this part of the BOOK: ‘the things which thou hast heard of me’, Paul says. Go to this man’s writings and you’ll see then it’s just of unique things. For instance, its unique constitution because we’re told literally it is made of joint heirs, joint partakers, and a joint body. Three times over you’ve got this word equal (joint)! Tat was never said before!

There there’s a unique period — before the foundation of the world. And the only One that goes back before the foundation of the world in the Bible is the Lord Jesus, God Himself. But all other companies are since or after the foundation of the world.

Then there’s a unique place — in heavenly places far above all, we’ve been made to sit, to be enthroned with Christ! Then you may say to me, ‘That’s impossible, we’re sitting in this Chapel’ Oh yes, that is perfectly true, but spiritually this is the way God sees it. And this is what God wills, and this is what’s going to happen friends, in actual fact when our hope is realized. So this is something that’s absolutely unique. If you’d go to anybody in the O.T. and say, ‘Do you know you’re going to sit with God in the heavenly places far above all?’ He would say, ‘You’re mad! No possibility!’. They were going to be blessed, yes, but they were all earthly blessings. I’m not belittling them, they’re wonderful blessing. I’m not belittling them, they’re wonderful blessings. But they didn’t know anything of being made to sit with Him in heavenly places. And He’s sitting in the highest sphere, and that’s where He’s been exalted to, after giving Himself for your sins and mine on Calvary’s cross and being raised from the dead. Don’t forget He ascended. Ascension goes right back, you remember, in that wonderful prayer in John 17, His prayer to the Father: ‘Glorify Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was’. He’s asking to have it back again. He let that all go, all the outside glory, and comes and attaches Himself to a human body. So much so that people said, ‘Well who is this? We know that His father and mother are just ordinary human people’ (John. 6:42). Poor things, they were so blind, and so deaf that they couldn’t hear or see the voice of God there, speaking to them. But that was God manifest in the flesh, in His great stooping, so He could die for your sins and for mine. It was the only way He could do it, and I’ll say that reverently. God can’t die. He’s immortal! So He takes upon Himself a human body so He can die, and that’s exactly what He did. Oh, the love that’s behind that! Shall we even fathom it! But that’s only the beginning of all these marvelous things; unique place, unique destiny and something in Ephesians 2:22, A change from a body to a house (to a building) and individuals then are likened to stones. And Who’s the Builder? God Himself is the Builder. There’s no angel doing it! What’s it all for? It says to be a HOME FOR GOD. I think we can say the world over, the average balanced person wants a HOME, and the tragedy is there are thousands that haven’t got one. And isn’t it a marvelous thought that God wants a HOME. Yes, He’s making a Home for Himself. You and I can be part of this marvelous building.

A habitation our old English says — A HOME FOR GOD. And this time it’s going to last forever. But where is it? Is it on earth? Is it on the new earth that’s coming down from heaven? NO! We’re told when He ascended, He ascended far above all heavens. Not just above all heavens, but a long way about it. (You see there are no English words to adequately bring forward the greatness of all this). And that’s why I believe there are so many things we would like to know about it and there’s nothing know about it all. WHY? Simply because our brains aren’t big enough to understand it. If God told us it wouldn’t mean anything to us — — it’s beyond our comprehension. But that is what God is getting for you and for me that know Him as Saviour, who know Him as Lord, who know Him as Head of this body (in Ephesians 2 called the new man, that’s the name God has given it). And then one of the great things in these prison Epistle (there are actually 4 of them, 5 if you take in Philemon, but that’s only a personal letter in a personal setting) it surpasses all that man can think about and it’s a reality! If God doesn’t tell us some of the things we’d like to know, well, can’t we wait a little bit longer? We’ve got to anyway whether we like it or not. But can’t we say, ‘Yes, alright, I’ll leave it with the Lord’. Paul says, when writing one of his letters, ‘Now I see partly, then (resurrection, the next life) I shall see fully, I shall know all the things I want to know now’. Now why can’t we take that?

That’s the reason why some of our prayers aren’t answered. And people ask me for help on certain parts of the Bible, and I say, ‘Well look, I’m far from being infallible. I’m still learning myself, and there’s a lot in there that’s beyond human comprehension as I mentioned so many times’. But can’t we trust Him, can’t we say, ‘There’s coming a day, but now I know partially. ‘You know I hear people talk as if they know the Bible from beginning to end: they don’t! They most certainly do not, and they’ll never completely exhaust it, or get to know every little bit in It! You can keep going to this Book that’s written through the Holy Spirit. It’s more than a human book, it’s GOD’S BOOK, written really by Him.

Now can’t you understand what Paul meant to Timothy when he said,

  • ‘All the things you’ve heard of me I entrust to you. Christ has entrusted it to me, my time has come to finish, I entrust it to you. You entrust it to faithful, reliable men who can be entrusted who are going to use it, who are going to look at it as something absolute precious’ (2 Tim. 2).

THE MOST PRECIOUS THING OF ALL, PLACE NUMBER ONE, AND THAT’S WHERE WE’VE GOT TO PUT THE LORD JESUS WHO’S IN THE VERY CENTRE OF IT. Isn’t that so? Yes! ‘In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily’ — this body is the fulness of Christ — Christ is the fullness of God (Col. 2:9). And yet some people say He isn’t God. How can people be so blind and so utterly silly to talk like that. He’s got all the Godhead, fully, and then to cap it all it says, ‘And you are complete’, that’s the word fill again, you’re complete in Him, you are filled full!. Not three quarters, leaving a bit out, but right to the brim, that’s this word fulness! That’s another word that wants weighing over. It touches God Himself you see. It touches this home that He is making. THINK OF THAT, fancy God having His home when He is at last finished. Well I’m quite sure what will happen next, it will be our revelation with Him because we are stones He has chosen, that He has shaped in just the size that He wants, and placed just where He wants us to be in an absolute eternity of wonder and magnificence that we can’t fully appreciate now! Now we know partially, then in resurrection we shall know fully, even as we are known by Him.

Now here comes the final challenge, and a warning too! Well there it is, I must stop. But there are some wonderful things in the Bible aren’t there! Oh, yes, let’s value it, and then let’s make quite sure that we’re passing it on to others. Don’t let the opportunities go by, looking at them at the back as they pass by, that’s too late, that’s no good. The Lord is willing to use us, all those who want to be utterly faithful. Let’s make the most of it for as you know the signs of te times tell us that WE HAVEN’T GOT VERY MUCH LONGER, so let’s see that we fill it with faithful Christ-like service, and His Trust entrusted now to us. Unto Him be glory in the church (ecclesia) by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

By Stuart Allen / The Berean Expositor / JANUARY 2019 VOL. 70 No. 1 / http://www.bereanonline.org / email: booksatbpt@btinternet.com

Gerard J.C. Plas

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[Heaven and EARTH … Fewer and fewer today speak with any comfort and confidence and say ‘the earth is the Lord’s’ (Ps. 24:1). Many are occupied with ‘preserving the earth for future generations’ and ‘conserving the earth’s natural resources’ of our planet, never seeing that both the ‘Firmament called heaven’ (Gen. 1:8) as well as the earth are the necessary theatre for God’s outworking of His Grand Designs. Qualifications can now be acquired in ‘Earth Sciences’; alas ‘Heaven Science’, knowledge of the heavenly realms, such is obtained only in the Word of God.

What shall we make the heaven of Gen. 1:1 and those verses so soon afterwards of 6-8 as we read, which tell of another heaven? Many seem hardly to notice; but the Old Testament writers show an understanding of them. The Psalmist says, ‘the heavens declare’, ‘the firmament showeth’ (Ps. 19), but also speaks of Him (Ps. 8) Who hast set His glory ‘above the heavens’. ‘High above the heavens’ is the Greek of the Old Testament (LXX). To this high above the heavens, Paul adds in Eph. 4:10 the two words ‘of all’ (heavens), speaking of Christ’s exaltation. We recall his words too in 2 Cor. 12, of one ‘caught away to the third heaven’. Sufficient surely, to disenchant any from assuming that ‘Heaven’ is simply ‘just one place’, albeit only Scripture can be our source of these truths.

If we now remind ourselves of Gen. 1:1 ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth’, allowing the Companion Bible to inform us that ‘heaven’ in Gen. 1:1 is in fact plural, or at least dual, ‘the heavens and the earth’, as also in Deut. 4:26, is it too soon, in reading Gen. 1:1, as Stuart Allen says, to deduce that ‘God has a purpose for the heavens as well as the earth’? Is there a better time wherein to Rightly Divide the Word of Truth, and to keep these two lines of true apart? When our Lord had His night time discourse with Nicodemus, He condensed His words concerning the New Birth and the Kingdom under the phrase ‘earthly things’, going on to say that there were ‘above-heavenly’ things (Greek. Epi + ouranos, over + heaven), (Jn. 3:12), which ‘heavenly things’ not Nicodemus or Our Lord’s disciples were ready to bear (Jn. 16:12) i.e. carry or sustain.

What privilege is ours, and who are we that we may bear, or sustain what the ‘the twelve’ were not able to come to the understanding of i.e. ‘heavenly things’, ‘heavenly places’, which certainly are not ‘earthly things’ but rather ‘things above’ and concern where Christ sitteth (Col. 3:1,2) at the Right Hand of God? What days of favour do we live in, what light is ours to enjoy and to bring suitable praises from our hearts!

May we be led to see and lay hold of that ‘sphere’ or ‘realm’ or ‘province’ of blessing even as Paul who wrote ‘Blessed be the God and Father or Our Lord Jesus Christ … ‘ (Eph. 1:3)]. By M. Garstang

SIGNS THAT PRECEDE THE PASSING OF HEAVEN AND EARTH

The transition from the Day of the Lord to the Day of God, is accompanied by dissolving and melting fire that causes the heavens and the earth to pass away, and make way for a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Pet. 3:10-13). This, however, is the climax of a series of phenomena that are concerned with signs and wonders in heaven and earth, and the result of a survey of them and their associations will reveal a similar pattern to that which we find in the book of Exodus.

There, the climax plague, namely, the slaying of the firstborn, is postponed until there have been a series of lesser plagues sent in the longsuffering of the Lord, which longsuffering though counted by many as ‘slackness’ is rather ‘that all should come to repentance’. We shall find that the overthrow of Genesis 1:2, the destruction of the world by the flood, the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire, the movements in the heavens that accompany the overthrow of Babylon, and the signs in heaven that occupy the second coming of the Lord, are all steps that led to this great climax so vividly set forth in 2 Peter 3. When we read in the Sermon on the Mount:

  • ‘Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled’ (Matt. 5:18),

the Lord may be referring to a literal fact, or He may be using a strong figure in argument, as Luke 16:17 puts it:

  • ‘It is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail’.

If these were the only Scriptures to which appeal could be made, it would not be possible to adopt a dogmatic attitude either way. In Hebrews 1, we meet a similar argument. This time it is the Lord Himself Who ‘remains’ and not merely ‘one jot or tittle of the law’, and this time the references to the passing away of the heavens are positive:

  • ‘And, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of Thine hands: they shall perish; but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment; and as a vesture shall Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed: but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail’ (Heb. 1:10-12).

Here ‘they’, hautoi refers to ‘the heavens’, hoi ouranoi, and not to the earth. The reference is to ‘the firmament’ of Genesis 1:6-8, the raqia, or something ‘stretched out like a curtain or a tent’ (Isa. 40:22). Such a ‘heaven’ can be conceived as ‘folded up’ as a vesture, or as the LXX says of these same heavens, ’till the heavens come unstitched’ (Job 14:12), surrhapto, see Genesis 3:7, ‘sewed’ = rhapto, and Ecclesiastes 3:7. This passage provides us with a word of caution. The heavens that are to pass away, are the limited heavens of Genesis 1:6 known as the firmament, but the heavens of Genesis 1:1 may be referred to as ‘the heaven of heavens’ (Psa. 148:4; 1 Kings 8:27) to which Christ ascended when He ‘passes through the heavens’ (Heb 4:14 dierchomai) and was ‘made higher than the heavens’ (Heb. 7:26) or ‘Heaven itself’ (Heb. 9:24) or as Ephesians 4:10, ‘He ascended up far above all heavens’. This feature has a bearing upon Revelation 21:1, THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH.

At the Second Coming of Christ we read:

  • ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken’ (Matt. 24:29).

Here is no ‘melting’, no ‘fervent heat’, no ‘passing away’ but enough to warn the inhabitants of the earth that the Almighty who can do such things is well able to do more. The reference to the tribulation (see also vers 21) and the link with the Abomination of Desolation (verse 15) associates this passage with the pre-Millennial happenings, foreshadowing what will come after the Millennium, but not in any invading the prophecies of the time of the end. The passing of heaving and earth (Rev. 21:1) is the at least one thousand years later, and probably very much longer. We find another reference to similar phenomena in heaven and earth, at the opening of the six seal, in Revelation 6:12-17. Tabulating these events we have:

  1. A great earthquake.
  2. The sun black as sackcloth.
  3. The moon as blood.
  4. The stars fall.
  5. The heaven departs as a scroll.
  6. Every mountain and island moved out of their places.
  7. It is the day of the wrath of the Lamb.

With this passage we should read of the pouring out of the seventh vial in Revelation 16:17-21. Again we tabulate:

  1. Voices, thunders, lightnings.
  2. Unprecedented earthquake.
  3. The great city divided.
  4. The cities of the nations fall.
  5. Great Babylon comes into remembrance.
  6. Every island flees.
  7. Mountains not found.
  8. Plague of hail falls.

With these two passages we must make one further comparison, that is Revelation 20:11:

  • ‘And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them’.

Before the Millennium ‘every island fled away, and the mountains were not found’, after the Millennium it is ‘the earth and the heavens’ that flee, and for which no place is found.

  • ‘In Revelation 6:14 the mountains and islands were moved. Here, they flee. By and by the whole earth and heavens will flee away, and no place be found for them. There is no article before “mountains” so we have supplied its absence by the word “certain”‘ (The Apocalypse*, Dr. E.W. Bullinger).

The Revelation therefore gives us a series of movements:

  1. Rev. 6:14 moved out of their places.
  2. Rev. 16:20 certain mountains were not found.
  3. Rev. 20:11 the earth and heaven flee.
  4. Rev. 21:1 a new heaven and earth, the former having passed away.

These lead straight on to the climax passage of 2 Peter 3, but it will be wise to retrace our steps and include one or two references in the Old Testament before we consider Peter’s testimony.

Isaiah 13:10. Here the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof give no light, the sun is darkened, the moon ceases to shine. Here once again we are in the day of the Lord (Isa. 13:9) and at the overthrow of Babylon (Isa. 13:19). This prophecy is twofold, (1) the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes (Isa. 13:17) which is referred to in Daniel 5:31, and (2) the overthrow of Babylon at the coming of the Lord (Rev. 19:1-6). Again in Isaiah 34 we are in the Day of the Lord’s vengeance, and in the year of recompense for the controversy of Zion:

  • ‘And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree’ (Isa. 34:4,8).

Here we have two important verbal connections. There is a link with Genesis 1:2, for the words translated ‘without form and void’ (Heb. tohu and bohu) are here rendered in Isaiah 34:11, ‘confusion’ and ’emptiness’, which together with the use of the same words in Jeremiah 4:23,24 show that ‘that which has been is that which shall be’ as the great cycle of the ages draws to a completion. The present heavens and earth finds its place between two ‘overthrows’ Gen. 1:2 and Isa. 34:11), the one in Isaiah 34:11 foreshadowing the actual and final dissolution of 2Peter 3, Joel 2:10,30,31 and 3:15 associates these phenomena with the great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2:11,31), and similar words are used of the extinguishing of Pharaoh by Ezekiel (Ezek. 32:7,8). To these references might be added those which foretell a mighty shaking both of earth and heaven, such as Job 9:6; Isaiah 2:19,21; 13:13; 23:11; Haggai 2:66,7,21, and Hebrews 12:26,27. Also such references to earthquakes as Isaiah 29:6; Zechariah 14:5; Matthew 24:7 and the five occurrences in the Apocalypse, Revelation 6:12; 8:5; 11:13,19 and 16:18.

We now arrive at the climax prophecy 2 Peter, chapter 3. We will not attempt here a complete literary structure of this passage, but the following will exhibit its salient features.

2 Peter 3

A 3:1,2. This second epistle (Peter’s) Pure minds stirred to remembrance. Words of Lord and Saviour.

B 3:3-13. Scoffers. Promise of His Coming. e Willful ignorance. e Be not ignorant. d The Lord. Promise. e Day of the Lord. Heaven and earth pass away. e Day of God. Heaven and earth made new.

A 3:14-18. a In all his epistles (Paul’s). b Unlearned unstable destruction. c Grace of Lord and Saviour.

It will be noted that the first two chapters form a preface, the third chapter being ‘this second epistle’ proper. Prefaces are often skipped by readers, but a divinely inspired preface cannot be so lightly treated. Peter is concerned, among other things, with the safeguarding of prophetic truth and the assurance of his readers. The expression, ‘knowing this first’, links 2 Peter 1:20 with 2 Peter 3:3, and both passage are concerned with the integrity and inspiration of the prophetic writings, ‘we have not followed cunningly devised fables’, in spite of all that the scoffers may say, or the arguments they may bring forward.

Chapter 2 passes from the true Prophet to the false, and also counters the objection of chapter 3, namely that ‘all things continue as they were’, by giving three instances of Divine interposition:

  1. The angels that sinned.
  2. The flood.
  3. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, and contrast the ‘grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Pet. 3:18) with a graceless knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 2:20).

The Received Text be it noted makes a distinction here. In 2 Peter 2:20 it is ‘The Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’, but in 3:18 it is ‘Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’. In both passages there is ‘knowledge’, but in 2 Peter 1:8 Peter warns of a ‘barren and unfruitful’ knowlegde. In both chapter 1 and 2 there is an ‘escape’ from corruption, but one is ensured by reason of the partaking of the ‘Divine nature’ (2 Pet. 1:4), which is absent in 2 Peter 2:18-20.

So much for the surrounding context, but our main theme is found in 2 Peter 3:10-13. Here we find the day of the Lord, succeeded by the day of God. As the day of God was the object of desire (verse 12) and as the New Heaven and New Earth were equally desired, ‘looking for’ and ‘look for’ being translations of the same Greek word, the day of God seems to include the New Heavens and Earth. The passing away of the heavens and earth synchronizes with the passing away of the ‘former’ heaven and earth of Revelation 21:1. This takes place at the end of the Great White Throne judgment, which therefore must be included in the day of the Lord, the Millennium being the first part of that great prophetic day, but not exhausting it. Further, the last words of Revelation 20 speak of the ‘lake of fire’. This synchronizes with the ‘fervent heat’ of 2 Peter 3:10, wherein and whereby ‘the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up’.

The words ‘pass away’ in these two passages are the same Greek words, which established yet another link. Peter makes a connection in 2 Peter 3:6,7 between the flood of water in the days of Noah, and the dissolution of heaven and earth by fire, saying:

  • ‘whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men’.

Just as the threat to slay Pharaoh’s firstborn was postponed while a series of lesser plagues gave him opportunity to repent, so judgment after judgment falls upon the earth at the time of the end (see for example Revelation 9), yet it is written they ‘repented not’ (Rev. 9:20,21). So the longsuffering of the Lord reaches its limit, the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with ‘fervent heat’, ‘crackling roar’, ‘set ablaze and melt’ (Moffatt), and a new day dawns, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Much indeed could be said on this great theme. The fact that in Isaiah 65 and 66 as well as in Revelation 21, sin, death, carcases, worm, fire, and exclusion from the new Jerusalem, fall within the newly-created heavens and earth when read with Peter’s definition ‘wherein dwelleth righteousness’, suggests that even when this great renewal takes place, there will be more than one stage before ‘the end’. Let us not be so absorbed in the dreadful facts that have been brought before us, however, as to forget Peter’s inspired corollary.

  • ‘Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God … be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you’ (2 Pet. 3:11-15).

THE LAKE OF FIRE, AND THE MILLENNIUM

Why a ‘lake’ of fire? Of the commentators we have consulted, none make any reference to this particular word, to its meaning or to the reason for its use. The Greek word translated ‘lake’ is limne. Parkhurst says that the word indicates a lake of standing water, as opposed to a running stream, and is so called from lian memein, ‘remaining very quiet’, so the Latin stagnum, a pool. Schrevelius reads limne, a port, harbour, haven, station, refuge, accusative limena; as if lian menei, because there the ships rest in safety; hence limenarches, harbour master. Limne, occurs in the LXX in Psalm 107:30, ‘haven’, Psalm 107:35; 114:8, ‘a standing water’, Song of Solomon, ‘fishpools’. The word occurs in the New Testament ten times and is always translated ‘lake’. Apart from the five references in the Revelation, the remainder occur in Luke’s Gospel, 5:1,2; 8:22,23,33, the lake Gennesaret, elsewhere called the sea of Galilee, and the sea and lake of Tiberias, and in the Old Testament the sea of Chinnereth.

In Luke 8:22,23,33 ‘the lake’ is associated with the storm that threatened the lives of the disciples, and which the Saviour ‘rebuked’, and the place where the swine possessed of demons were choked. In every place, a lake of water is intended, which makes it strange that a ‘lake of standing water, a haven, and a harbour’ should burn with ‘fire and brimstone’! There is only one other set of references that may some bearing, and these are found in the Apocrypha. Difficult as it may be for us to understand, at the sounding of the sixth trumpet, four angels are let to loose, which had been bound in the great River Euphrates (Rev. 9:14). How could ‘angels’ be held by a ‘river’? In the article entitled THE BOTTOMLESS PIT, we show the connection that exists in Scripture between ‘the abyss’, ‘the sea’ and ‘the deep’ of Genesis 1:2. That connection must be kept in mind here. In the second book of the Maccabees, 12:3-9 we have the following record:

  • ‘The men of Joppe also did such an ungodly deed: they prayed the Jews that dwelt among them to go with their wives and children into the boats which they had prepared, as though they had meant them no hurt. Who accepted of it according to the common decree the city, as being desirous to live in peace, and suspecting nothing: but when they were gone forth into the deep, they drowned no less than two hundred of them’.
  • ‘When Judas heard of this cruelty done unto his countrymen, he commanded those that were with him to make them ready. And calling upon God the righteous Judge, he came against those murderers of his brethren, and burnt the haven (“lake”) by night, and set the boats on fire, and those that fled thither (of from the fire) he slew … But when he heard that the Jamnites were minded to do in like manner … he came … and set fire on the haven and the navy, so that the light of the fire was seen at Jerusalem two hundred and forty furlongs off’.

We Gentiles have never had impressed upon our hearts, minds and memory, the exploits of the Maccabees. Were we to have had a revelation written especially for English-speaking people it might use a mixture of figures; it might speak of a fat boy carved in stone, a monument by Sir Christopher Wren, and refer to Pudding, Pie, and the sin of gluttony, but it is very unlikely that a Chinese reader, or come to that, some readers nearer home, would make sense of this oblique reference to the great fire of London! So, the essentially Hebrew atmosphere of the book of the Revelation not only draws freely upon Old Testament imagery, but contains allusion to un-canonical or traditional happenings that may never find a place in a respectable commentary written for English readers. It may be that this ‘lake’ of fire, before the judgment of that day had been a ‘haven’ for those evil beings, the Beast and the False Prophet, and we know that it had been ‘prepared for the Devil and his angels’ as the place of their final destruction (Matt. 25:41). Nothing definite can be adduced from what we have presented, but we have at least given the term employed something more than a casual glance.

We have devoted some attention to the promise to the overcomer, that such would not have their names blotted out of the book of life. We must now devote some attention to the parallel promise given to the overcomer in the church of Smyrna: ‘he that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death’ and this second death together with the book of life and the lake of fire, figures prominently in the judgment of the Great White Throne (Rev. 20:11-15). The choice of the word ‘hurt’ by the Authorized Version translators may have been influenced by such passages as:

  • ‘Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt’ (Dan. 3:25).
  • So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him’ (Dan. 6:23).

In contrast with the three who were not ‘hurt’ in the furnace, is the fate of the men who stoked the fire (Dan. 3:22) and in contrast with Daniel, is the fate of those who accused him (Dan. 6:24). The word translated ‘hurt’ in Revelation 2:11 is adikeo, which is so rendered in eight other passages in the Apocalypse, and twice translated ‘unjust’ in Revelation 22:11. From what we have already seen, it will be recognized that some wider survey of the references to ‘fire’ and its implications is called for. Matthew 5:22 coming in the Sermon on the Mount has references to disciples and not to the ungodly outside world.

It is set in a form of progression, the penalty keeping pace with the offence thus:

  • ‘Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of THE JUDGMENT: and
  • ‘Whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of THE COUNSEL: but
  • ‘Whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of HELL FIRE‘.

The Council here is the Sanhedrin. Raca is a word like ’empty head’, ‘Hell fire’ here is Gehenna:

  • ‘But what was there more grievous in the word “fool” than in the word “Raca”? Let King Solomon be interpreter, who everywhere, by a “fool” understands a wicked and reprobate person, foolishness being opposed to spiritual wisdom. “Raca” denotes indeed, “morosity” and lightness of manners and life; but “fool” judgeth bitterly of the spiritual and eternal state’ (Lightfoot).

While we can recognize a series of degrees in there actions, and that they are accompanied by corresponding degrees of punishment, it still seems to be inexplicable, that for saying raca, a believer was amenable to the Sanhedrin, but for saying fool, the offender was in danger of hell fire. Put into modern times, we could read:

  1. The first offence would be liable to a fine, imposed by a magistrate.
  2. The second offence might lead to the assizes, and a term of imprisonment.
  3. The third offence, to a punishment of inconceivable horror, far worse than that of being beheaded or hanged.

If we turn to Matthew 25 we shall be met with a similar problem. There, at the Second Coming, the Lord gathers the nations of the earth before Him and they are judged on one issue only, the way in which they have treated His ‘brethren’. To one section the King says:

  • ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ (Matt. 25:34).

To the other, the King says:

  • ‘Depart from Me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41).

The kindness shown to the Lord’s brethren was not intentionally rendered to the Lord as the astonished inquiry of verses 37-40 will show, and the lack of kindness was not intentionally witheld from the Lord, yet one group go ‘into everlasting life’ which is equated with the kingdom prepared for them from the foundation of the world, and the other group go ‘into everlasting punishment’ which is equated with ‘everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels’.

Let us observe, the inheritance was actually prepared for the one group, but the other enter a punishment, not originally ‘prepared’ for them, but for the devil and his angels. If from these verses we are to gather that failure to visit the brethren of the Lord in prison, merits everlasting punishment, and everlasting fire in the sense of a traditional ‘Hell’, then all argument is at an end. We stand appalled, but helpless before a power beyond our own, but whether we stand assured of its utter and unquestioned righteousness, each one of us alone can answer. Before we leave these unhappy nations to their awful lot, would it not be well if we knew the word used by the Lord for ‘punishment’ here? He had the choice of at least four words:

  • Ekdikesis, ‘The punishment of evildoers’ (1 Pet. 2:14).
  • Epitimia, ‘Sufficient … is this punishment’ (2 Cor. 2:6).
  • Timoria, ‘Sorer punishment’ (Heb. 10:29).

These words are not found in Matthew 25. The word employed there is kolasis, ‘a pruning’ (Dr. Bullinger’s Lexicon) www.levenwater.org / The one other occurrence of kolasis is in 1 John 4:18, ‘torment’. Kolazo is translated ‘punish’ in Acts 4:21 and 2 Peter 2:9. The first meaning of kolazo given in Liddell and Scott is ‘curtail, dock, prune’, and secondly to ‘castigate’ keep within bounds, correct, punish’. Kolasis is used with dendron, ‘trees’ in the sense of pruning. Turning to the usage of the word kolasis in the LXX we read in Ezekiel 18:30:

  • ‘I will judge you O house of Israël, saith the Lord, each one according to his way: be converted, and turn from all your ungodliness, and it shall not become to you the punishment of iniquity’.

Again in Ezekiel 44:12-14, the Levites, because of their departure and ministry of idols, became ‘a punishment’ of iniquity to the house of Israël, with the consequence that these Levites could no longer draw near, nor approach the holy things, but they shall bear ‘their reproach’ (atimian, ‘no honour’, see usage in 2 Tim. 2:20,21) and take a lower service. This is understandable, but to translate this word kolasis as equivalent to everlasting torment in ‘hell’ is, here, impossible. Before attempting a conclusion of this matter in Matthew 25, let us get a little light by turning to Hebrews 6. It will, we trust, be conceded that for Israël to ‘crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame’ is a deeper sin, than neglecting to visit the Lord’s brethren in prison. Yet while there is reference to ‘burning’ as a consequence, it is remedial:

  • ‘For the earth … which beareth thorns and briars is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned’ (Heb. 6:7,8).

The ‘earth’ here is a piece of land under cultivation. The word ‘rejected’ is adokimos, ‘disqualified’ having failed the test, and is not cursed, but ‘nigh unto’ cursing, an expression parallel to being ‘hurt’ of the second death. The burning which is its end, burns up the ‘thorns and briars’, but does not destroy the land itself, but rather benefits it. It is comparable to the ‘pruning’ of a tree. If we can allow the gentler meaning of the term in Matthew 25, the nations who failed will go away into an age-long pruning, thereby missing the glory of the Millennium, but will benefit by its administration and correction.

Let us examine the Scriptures as to the usage of ‘fire’ to indicate the Holiness and the Presence of God, before we go further in our search

Fire and the Holiness of God

  • ‘Our God is a consuming fire’ (Heb. 12:29).

These words refer back to Deuteronomy 4:24 and 9:3. This fire turns boths ways. Its flame scorches the covenant people who provoke the Lord to jealousy, the flame destroys the enemies of His people. The association of fire with the presence of the Lord quite irrespective of sin or wrath, is the burden of many references:

  • ‘The sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire’ (Exod. 24:17).

This fire devoured Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:2) as it consumed the murmurers in Numbers 11:1. Deuteronomy 5 is full of reference to this association of fire with the presence of the Lord, and in Ezekiel 1 to 10, fire is associated with the appearance of the Lord there. ‘Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? asks Isaiah (33:14). God Himself being a consuming fire, it must follow that saved and lost must, if in that sacred presence, alike be affected by its searching character, the believer being able to answer the challenge of Isaiah 33:14, ‘who … shall dwell with everlasting burnings’ because clothed in the asbestos (Greek word is found in four passages) covering wherein they are accepted in the Beloved; this glorious immunity being theirs, as found ‘in Christ’ not having their own righteousness as a protection, but the righteousness of God which is by faith.

These selfsame believers however, who are thus immune from the searching flame of the Divine Presence, may have with them and about them ‘works’ which by their very nature cannot stand the test of fire, and so are mercifully shrivelled as they draw near. This aspect we must now pursue as it impinges eventually on the interpretation we must put upon the lake of fire in Revelation 20 and elsewhere. We have used the word asbestos in its modern meaning; in the New Testament it refers to the fire that is unquenchable, not to the material that is unburnable (Matt. 3:12; Mark 9:43,45 and Luke 3:17).

Fire, and the Redeemed

Let us take the illustration found in Daniel 3. The overwhelming pride of Nebuchadnezzar left the three friends of Daniel no alternative but to disobey his commands, even though the consequence of disobedience was to be cast into a ‘burning fiery furnace’. To ensure their destruction Nebuchadnezzar commanded that the furnace be heated seven times more than was wont, and so vehement was its flame that the men who took up the faithful three, were themselves instantly slain, but Sadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego, though they ‘fell down bound’ in the midst of such a fiery furnace, were seen walking unscathed together with one like unto the Son of God, and, as Nebuchadnezzar admitted, ‘they have no hurt’. What is the meaning by having ‘no hurt’ is made clear in Daniel 3:27:

  • ‘These men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them’.

That is what we meant when we used the word asbestos for the perfect immunity of the believer ‘in Christ’. These men are an anticipation of those who shall not be ‘hurt’ of the second death. Isaiah assured the ‘redeemed’ of this immunity when he wrote:

  • ‘When thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee’ (Isa. 43:2).

Just as we find Daniel pondering over the writings of Jeremiah (Dan. 9:2), so we can readily believe that the three friends found all the encouragement they needed, when facing the ordeal of fire set by Nebuchadnezzar, in the precious words of Isaiah 43.

Again, as space is limited, we have no need to ‘prove’ to the spirit-taught believer, this blessed position of complete immunity, demonstrated by Daniel 3 and prominent in Isaiah 43, as being equally true of all believers. We therefore turn our attention to the second division of this aspect of truth.

The test of faith and of works

  • ‘The trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ’ (1 Pet. 1:7).

Here, it is not salvation that is under the test, it is the ‘trial of faith’. The Greek words dokimion ‘trial’ and ‘tried’ dokimazo, have reference to the testing of metals, indeed the LXX of Proverbs 27:21 uses dokimion to translate the word, ‘a fining pot’ or ‘crucible’ and Job said, ‘When He has tried me, I shall come forth as gold’ (Job 23:10). Peter again speaks of ‘the fiery trial’ that was about to try some of his readers (1 Pet. 4:12). Paul writing to the Corinthians makes it very clear, that those who are building upon the one foundation, namely Christ, while never in danger of ‘being lost’ might ‘suffer loss’ as over against ‘receiving a reward’ and uses the trial by fire to illustrate his teaching:

  • ‘Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: BUT HE HIMSELF SHALL BE SAVED; yet so as by fire’ (1 Cor. 3:12-15).

Here ‘works’ are in view, and ‘works’ only. When examining the character of the Millennium we drew attention to the words of the Saviour to the seven churches, ‘I know thy works’ and how they were linked with Revelation 20, ‘the dead were judge … according to their works’. First, to every one of the seven churches, the Saviour said. ‘I know thy works’, and so dominant is this reference to ‘works’ in these two chapters (Rev. 2 and 3), that we find the Greek word ergon occurring fourteen times. It is to one of these churches made up of the redeemed that the overcomer is promised ‘He … shall not be hurt of the second death’ (Rev. 2:11), a promise fulfilled in Revelation 20:6 for there those who ‘reign’ with Christ for the thousand years, are said to be blessed and holy; they are said to be priests of God and of Christ, and ‘ON SUCH the second death hath no power’. Every one of these seven churches is linked with the Millennial kingdom by either the promise to the overcomer, or the warning to the slacker, or by both. Let us see this for ourselves:

  • Ephesus. Promise. Paradise (Rev. 2:7 and 22:2).
  • Smyrna. Promise. Not hurt of the second death (Rev. 2:11 and 20:6).
  • Pergamos. Promise. New name (Rev. 2:17 and 19:12). Threat. Fight, sword, mouth (Rev. 2:16 and 19:15).
  • Thyatira. Promise. Rod of Iron (Rev. 2:27 and 12:5). Threat. Kill with death (Rev. 2:23 and 20:14).
  • Sardis. Promise. Not blot out (Rev. 3:5 and 20:12,15).
  • Philadelphia. Promise. New Jerusalem (Rev. 3:12 and 2:12).
  • Laodicea. Promise. Sit in throne (Rev. 3:21 and 20:4).

If ‘the second death’ be the doom that awaits the wicked dead, what congruity is there between the POSITION, ‘priests of God and of Christ and the PROMISE’, ‘on such the second death hath no power’ (Rev. 20:6)? Anyone with the slightest knowledge of the gospel of grace, knows that ‘there is … no condemnation’ possible for the believer ‘in Christ’. Now this second death is equated with ‘the lake of fire’ (Rev. 20:14,15) and so falls within the bounds of our present inquiry. This lake of fire is mentioned in five passages in the Revelation, and in several other passages by implication:

  • ‘The beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone’ (Rev. 19:20).
  • ‘And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are (or were), and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever’ (Rev. 20:10).
  • ‘And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death’ (Rev. 20:14).
  • ‘And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Rev. 20:15).
  • ‘He that overcometh shall inherit all things … but the fearful … shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death’ (Rev. 21:7,8).

The first thing we must note is that in Revelation 21, the doom of those parallel with verse 8, is said to be exclusion from the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27). Let us make sure of this:

Revelation 21:8

  • ‘But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death’.

Revelation 21:27

  • ‘And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life’.

Someone who was timid, who had flinched under the dreadful persecution of the time of the Beast and False Prophet, this one who fell and against which sin Paul even warned Timothy (2 Tim. 1:7), he has his part in the lake of fire, whereas any one that defiled was excluded from the heavenly Jerusalem. Yet this, while it sounds odd enough, will be seen more strange, for in one verse the abominable and ‘ALL’ liars are destined for the lake of fire, while in the corresponding verse ANYTHING that worketh abomination, or maketh a lie is excluded from the Heavenly Jerusalem! Surely, if the Scriptures are inspired, this means that the reference to the lake of fire, the reference to the second death, the reference to the book of life and the reference to the entry into the heavenly city are to be read together. This lake of fire is said to have been ‘prepared’ for the Devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41), in contrast with the kingdom that had been ‘prepared’ for those who received the Lord’s commendation (25:34), the ‘Bride’ also is prepared for her husband (Rev. 21:2).

In each case they are exceptional, and cannot be spread wider that the contexts will allow. This dreadful lake of fire had not been ‘prepared’ for any other than the Devil and his angels, but if anyone yielded to the pressure or the temptation of the last days so as to ally himself with the Devil and his emissaries, he could be ‘hurt’ of the second death, he would find that the fire that destroyed the enemy, would also burn up his fleshly ‘works’, and he could ‘suffer loss’ even the loss of the Heavenly city, yet ‘he himself could be saved so as by fire’.

Closely connected with all this is the question, to what does the book of life refer, does it speak of the redeemed or of a special company from among the redeemed? Let us see. Four our present study, we shall attempt no distinction between the Greek words biblion a little book, and biblos a book. The first reference is found in Philippians 4:3 where it relates to service. Had the book of life appeared in Ephesians and Colossians, we might have thought that it was tantamount to the choice of the believer before the foundation of the world, but Philippians is the epistle of service, it opens with a reference to bishops and deacons, it urges the believer to ‘work out’ his salvation; it holds out a ‘prize’ and even tells us that the apostle, who was sure of his salvation and hope, was not at the time as sure of the Prize as he was at the end of his course (Phil. 3:11,14 and 2 Tim. 4:7,8). Earlier in Philippians, Epaphroditus ‘was nigh unto death, not regarding his life’ in service to the Lord, and Paul himself had taken the view of life ‘Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether by LIFE of by DEATH’. It is therefore fitting that those who thus lost their lives for Christ’s sake should find them in the book of life, the book of the martyred saints who in their several spheres will ‘reign’ with Christ. This passage in Philippians is the only reference in the New Testament to the book of life except those found in the book of the Revelation. Now the Revelation traces the career of the overcomer, throughout the great tribulation to the throne, and it is this book that contains all the other references to the book of life:

  • ‘I will not blot out his name out of the book of life’ (Rev. 3:5).
  • ‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the Beast), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 13:5).
  • ‘And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world’ (Rev. 17:8).
  • ‘And I saw the dead (i.e. “the rest” Rev. 20:5), small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life’ (Rev. 20:12).
  • ‘And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’ (Rev. 20:15).
  • ‘And there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Rev. 21:27).
  • ‘And if any man shall take away from the words … of this prophecy, God shall take away his part:
  1. out of the book of life, and
  2. out of the holy city, and
  3. from the things which are written in this book’ (Rev. 22:19).

Some authorities read ‘the tree of Life’ here. While the margin of the R.V. reads at Revelation 13:8 ‘written from the foundation of the world in the book … slain’ it still retains in the text the order ‘in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’, and this should give us pause, lest in sweeping aside a difficulty, we also remove an index of its meaning. By referring to Luke 11:50,51 we shall see that ‘the blood of Abel’ was the first to be shed from the foundation of the world’, and this suggests that the ‘Lamb’s book of life’ contains the names of all those who have suffered martyrdom for the faith since the first martyrdom of Abel.

Incidentally this reference disposes of the suggestion that ‘before the foundation of the world’ refers to the future, for if we go back as far as Genesis 4, for the period ‘from’ the foundation of the world, the period indicated in Ephesians 1:4 must be earlier still. Abel especially sets forth the condition we find ruling in the Revelation, for it was Cain, who was of ‘that wicked one’, the seed of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15), that shed the first martyr’s blood and it is the Dragon ‘that old Serpent’, the Beast, the False Prophet and their followers, who shed the blood of the overcomers in the time of the end:

‘And they overcame him …

  1. by the blood of the Lamb,
  2. and by the word of their testimony;
  3. and they loved not their lives unto the death’ (Rev. 12:11).

and at the end of the chapter we see the Dragon makes war with the remnant of the woman’s seed ‘which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ’ (Rev. 12:17). We have already referred to those apostatize in the day of tribulation, who draw back into perdition, who ‘fall away’ and crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, who are likened to the earth which produces thorns and briars, and is (1) ‘rejected’, (2) ‘nigh unto’ cursing, (3) whose end is to be burned’ (Heb 6:6-8). Adokimos is the word translated ‘castaway’ in 1 Corinthians 9:27, meaning ‘disqualified’ so far as the ‘crown’ is concerned. ‘Nigh’ unto cursing is not the same as being actually cursed, even as Bethany was ‘nigh’ unto Jerusalem, but actually two miles distant. When a field that is full of weeds is ‘burned’ the weeds are destroyed, but the field abides, and is the better for it.

Enough we believe has been brought before the reader to enable him to see that the book of the Revelation deals with a particular class and calling, its terms of judgment, although awful, are limited by their contexts, and taken with the alternative of reigning and overcoming, cannot be lifted out of these contexts and applied to the believer of the present dispensation, or to the ungodly and un-evangelized world of all ages. To be ‘nigh’ unto cursing, to be ‘hurt’ of the second death, to have one’s name ‘removed’ from the book of life, which apparently contains the names of all overcomers since the death of Abel, to be ‘excluded’ from the heavenly city, all pertain to the people of God who find themselves in the dreadful three years and a half of the domination of the beast, and which give us a picture of the Millennium reign, that must be retained. Let us rejoice that there will be some who will endure that time of terror, and who will consequently:

  • ‘Live and reign with Christ a thousand years’!

See also:

By Charles H. Welch / London

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THE BOTTOMLESS PIT

We have remarked in another article, that the positive teaching concerning the Millennium is confined to TEN VERSES of HOLY WRIT, namely Revelation 20:1-10. All else must agree with what is there revealed before it can be admitted as a further revelation concerning the prophetic period.

The opening verses speak of the binding of Satan (Rev. 20:1-3), which will be one of the great characteristics of the this great Day. We have in these three verses, such words as ‘key’, ‘bottomless pit’, ‘a great chain’, ‘to lay hold’, ‘bound’, ‘shut up’ and after the thousand years ‘to loose’. It would be an insult to the intelligence and the integrity of the reader to set out a detailed ‘proof’ that these terms mean all that we associate with ‘imprisonment’. The ‘bottomless pit’ however calls for examination, although no one we hope needs an explanation of the figure ‘bottomless’, which simply means ‘fathomless’ or deep beyond human gauging.

The Greek word so translated is abussos, which becomes in English abyss, and this Greek word is found in the Apocalypse seven times. In Revelation 9:1 and 2 it is joined with the Greek word phrear, ‘a well or pit’, the remaining passage using the word abussos alone.

The way in which this word is distributed in the book of the Revelation clearly indicates that it is of importance.

Let us see:

Abussos in Revelation

A 9:1,2,11. Key – Let Loose – Locust scourge. The Angel called in Hebrew Abaddon in Greek Apollyon.

B 11:7. The Beast ascends out of the abyss, overcomers saints.

B 17:8. The Beast ascends out of the abyss. Lamb overcomes (14).

A 20:1-3. Key – Shut up – Loosed – Deceive (8). Serpent, called Diabolos (Greek) and Satan (Hebrew).

When we examine Revelation 13:1 we learn that the beast rises up (same word as ‘ascend’) out of the sea, and this proves a help not a problem, for we shall find that the abyss is constantly associated with the sea. This of course we learn by considering its usage in the Septuagint. We find it equated with the sea in Job 28:14; 38:16; Psalm 33:7; 42:7; 77:16; 135:6; but more important still, we discover that in all these passages, the Greek word translates the Hebrew tehom, ‘the deep’ of Genesis 1:2, and of Genesis 7:11, the flood of judgment before the advent of Man, and the flood of judgment in the days of Noah.

Psalm 104:6 says: ‘Thou coveredst it with the abyss as with a garment: the waters stood above the mountains’. Psalm 106:9 says, ‘He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it was dried up: so He led them through the abyss, as through the wilderness’. Psalm 148:7 associates ‘dragons’ with all deeps, and Isaiah 51:9,10 does the same. Proverbs 8:23,24 takes us back to ‘the beginning, or ever the earth was, when there was no abysses’. Amos 7:4 reveals that the great abyss could be devoured or eaten up ‘by fire’, while the poetic vision of Habakkuk 3:10,11 associates the trembling of the mountains and the abyss lifting up its hands, with the paralysing of the sun and moon. Such are the predecessors of the seven references to the abyss in the Revelation. The first occurrences, at the ‘overthrow of the world’, Genesis 1:2, and the last occurrences in Revelation 20:1 and 3 link the purpose of the ages, just as surely as the reappearance of the Paradise of Revelation 22 links this passage with the expulsion of Genesis 3. All this gives point to the words of Revelation 21:1, ‘and there was no more sea’, no more abyss, no more ‘deep’. Associated with connection of the deep with Satan and his imprisonment, is the statement in Revelation 9:14:

  • ‘Loose the four angels which are bound in the great river Euphrates’.

We can no more explain how this river could hold in restraint four such angels and the ‘two hundred thousand thousand’ demon horsemen that slay a third part of men, then we can understand that sort of ‘key’ or ‘chain’ or ‘abyss’ could keep in hold such a being as Satan for a thousand years, but these are revealed facts and they agree. We can, however, see that the Euphrates has a connection with Babel, even as the abyss is linked with Genesis 1:2.

Returning to Revelation 20:1-3, we see that the imprisonment of Satan is the first, and the cause, of a series of ‘restraints’ that characterize the Millennial reign. The Margin of Daniel 9:24 reads ‘to restrain the transgression’ were the Authorized Version reads ‘to finish the transgression’. The Hebrew word is kah-lah, ‘to keep back, be restrained, shut up’. The noun form of this word keh-leh is translated in its ten occurences ‘prison’ with six marginal notes which read, lit., house of restraint. Transgression will by no means be ‘finished’ when Daniel 9:24 is fulfilled, it will be ‘restrained’ or imprisoned along with the Devil, but will break out as soon as the Devil is loosed from his prison.

Daniel 9:24 also says, ‘to make an end of sins’ and the margin reads, ‘to seal up’. The same word appears in the later reference in the same verse, ‘to seal up vision and prophecy’. The Hebrew word is chatham and appears again in Daniel 12:4, ‘shut up the words, and seal the book, and this ‘even to the time of the end’. We meet the word again in 12:9, ‘the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end’, and in Daniel 6:17 ‘the king sealed it with his own signet’. The words ‘shut up’ and ‘close up’ of Daniel 8:26, 12:4,9 but confirm the meaning of the words of Daniel 9:24. Satham means ‘to stop up’ as one would a well or source of water supply. Sennacherib attempted to stop the waters that supplied Jerusalem, and Hezekiah stopped up the watercourse of Gihon (2 Chron. 32:3,30). We can therefore translate Daniel 9:24 freely yet nevertheless truthfully ‘TO IMPRISON the transgression, to SEAL UP, as a book or as a well, sins’.

We have seen that the ‘deep’ of Genesis 1:2 finds an echo in the ‘abyss’ of Revelation 20. We have seen the possibility of a ‘little season’ when Satan, ‘that old Serpent’, was loosed from the abyss of Genesis 1:2 and immediately set about his campaign of deceit in Genesis that echoes the ‘little season’ and the ‘deceit’ of Revelation 20. There is, however, another parallel that bears upon the subject of ‘Restraint’ that we have before us, but for the key to this we must turn to Psalm 8. When it says ‘that Thou mightest STILL the enemy’ (Psa. 8:2), the word translated ‘still’ is the Hebrew shabath, and is used in Genesis 2:3 in the words, ‘He had RESTED from all His work’. It means a sabbath keeping. God rested on the seventh day of Creation week; Satan will unwillingly keep sabbath in prison, for the sabbath that remains for the children of God is the 1,000-year reign of Christ. He will indeed be ‘stilled’, but who, without access to the original, would have dreamt of such a correspondence or such a teaching. Here is ‘restraint’ indeed covering the whole period.

The remaining terms of Daniel 9: reconciliation, righteousness and anointing of the Most Holy, belong to a separate inquiry. We are concerned at the moment with ‘the bottomless pit’, the chain, the restraint of the Devil and his works that introduce the Millennium into the pages of Scripture, namely at Revelation 20:1-3. Sin is by no means ‘finished’ or ‘made an end of’ in the evangelical sense of the words, and the Authorized Version margin reveals that the translators were not quite happy in thus translating the Hebrew words used. This element of restraint is reflected in the ‘feigned obedience’ that will characterize some of the nations in the Millennium, and after the reader has surveyed the evidence given for this marginal translation of Psalm 18:44; 66:3 and 81:15, he may realize that there is no need to attempt to justify the marginal rendering, the problem will be rather to understand why the translators should have departed from their own rendering in so many other places. Had they been consistent, the problem would never have arisen. That there could not have been ‘a finish’ or ‘an end’ to transgression or sin, Revelation 20:8,9 will demonstrate to all who have no theory to justify, for the terms ‘Gog and Magog’, ‘gather to battle’, ‘sand of the sea’, ‘went up on the breadth of the earth’, ‘compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city’ together with the judgment of fire which ‘devoured’ them with which the Millennium ends, are all so far removed from any conception of peace and sinlessness as to make a long disquisition unnecessary. We can only ask, if these are symptoms of ‘perfect peace’, are words of any use as vehicles of truth?

Some of our readers may be interested in a few sidelights on this question of the abyss, and its relation to the Serpent.

Job 41:32 (in the LXX 41:23) reads:

  • ‘He reckons … the tartaros of the abyss his captive’.

Peter uses the verb ‘tartaroo‘ (cast down to hell) in 2 Peter 2:4. The title, ‘old Nick’ in folk lore is derived from the Anglo-Saxon Nicor, a water sprite, a sea monster, Beowulf [Beowulf – An heroic poem, circa 700 AD. Although originally untitled, it was later named after the Scandinavian hero Beowulf, whose exploits and character provide its connection theme. There is no evidence of a historical Beowulf, but some characters, sites, and events in the poem can be historically verified (Encyclopaedia Britannia)] writes of one who ‘On the waves slew the nickus by night’ and speaks of ‘sea dragons and nickus’.

The Euphrates (Rev. 9:14) associated with angels and demons, was a mighty river when Paradise was first planted (Gen. 2:14), and may have had its origin in the fountains of the great deep (Gen. 1:2; 7:11). See Revelation 9:14,15. Of this we know next to nothing, thank God, but the record must be in Genesis for a reason.

Dragons are associated with sea and the deep in Scripture:

  • ‘Dragons, and all deeps’ (Psa. 148:7; cf. Psa. 74:13-15).

Rahab, the dragon and the deep are associated together in Isaiah 51:9,10, while the serpent and the bottom of the sea are joined together in Amos 9:3.

The sea itself is looked upon as a rebellious power:

  • ‘Am I a sea, or a sea-monster?’ (Job 7:12 author’s translation).

The ‘proud waves’ of Job 38:8-11 look back to Genesis 1:2 (see also Prov. 8:25-29). The waters of the sea are the surviving remnant of the raging abyss of Genesis 1:2. The Deluge in the days of Noah was a temporary return to chaos. Jeremiah 5:22 refers to the restraining power of the presence of the Lord, binding the sea by a perpetual decree.

Other passages which refer to the sea as a type of rebellion are Isaiah 17:12-14; 59:19; Jonah 2:5. The pledge of the rainbow (Gen. 9:13-17) and the blessed ‘no mores’ of Revelation 21 and 22 which open white ‘no more sea’ and close with ‘no more curse’ all point in the same direction, and reveal depths of meaning in the terms surveyed in this article that while lying beyond our comprehension are within the encirclement of our faith.

While all our teachings is drawn from and rest solely on the inspired Scriptures, the remnants of truth that have percolated into the mythologies of ancient nations, and especially those who at the beginning were contingent with Israël, lend a background to the doctrine of the bottomless pit.

Tehom, the Hebrew word translated ‘deep’ in Genesis 1:2, was soon personified and in the Babylonian tradition where we read ‘The primeval deep was their generator’, the word ‘deep’ is equivalent to the Hebrew tehom, and the word for ‘primeval’ is rishto, an equivalent of the Hebrew reshuth, ‘the beginning’. In later transformations tehom became identified with the Dragon, the Serpent and with Ea, the god of the waters and of wisdom. Just as the name Job epitomizes the ‘enmity’ of the two seeds, so the Babylonians called the serpent aibu, i.e. Job, ‘the enemy’.

The reader who may feel somewhat disturbed by these references to Babylonian beliefs can ignore them, but some who realize the interrelation of words in parallel languages may value their supporting evidence. Let no critic try to use these asides as a red herring across the path; our basis throughout all our ministry is only and solely, ‘Thus saith the Lord’.

By Charles H. Welches / The Berean Expositer / London.

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Info Middle East:

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Sjabbath viering met Mark Biltz – zaterdags vanaf 19.00 – 21.15 u.

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 09:01
Dec 072018
 

Two cities dominate the prophetic teaching of Scripture, Babel, afterward called Babylon, built by Nimrod, the rebel, and Salem, afterward called Jerusalem, served by Melchizedek, Priest of the Most High God. As in so many other cases (i.e. Esau before Jacob, Saul before David, Antichrist before Christ) Satan’s city is mentioned before the city of God. The first reference to Jerusalem is found in Genesis 14:18, where it is called Salem.

  • ‘Salem. Called, on the bricks of the ruins of an ancient city in S. of Palestine, Uru-salim = the city of Salim. The Tablets show that Palestine [Israël] was at this time in possesion of Egypt, and the Tablets are letters to the Pharaohs Amenophis III and IV. One is from Ebed-Tob, the successor of Melchizedek. Three times he says “not my father, not my mother installed me in this place but the Mighty King” (cf. Heb. 7:1-4), i.e. he did not inherit by succession, but by the gift and “the arm of the Mighty King (the deity)”‘ — The Companian Bible – www.levendwater.org

Salem is the name given to Jerusalem in Psalm 76:2, and Josephus (Ant. 1.10.2) says, when speaking of Genesis 14: ‘they afterward called Salem, Jerusalem’. Melchizedek was the King-Priest of Salem (Gen. 14), his name meaning ‘King of righteousness’, Adoni-zedek was the King of Jerusalem (Josh. 10:1), his name means ‘Lord of Righteousness’. Adoni-zedek was an Amorite (Josh. 10:5), the city of God having fallen to the evil one in Joshua’s day. When Abraham was called to make the supreme sacrifice on one of the mountains of Moriah (Gen. 22:2), he was led to the same place that was chosen afterward by Solomon as the site of the temple at Jerusalem (2 Chron. 3:1). These early references to Jerusalem associate the city with the King-Priest and with sacrifice, and in both passages Abraham is blessed. By the time Joshua entered the land, Jerusalem had become one of the cities of the Amorites (Josh. 10:1,5), and the battle and miracle that accompanied the taking of Jerusalem and execution of Adoni-zedek, set forth in symbol the final deliverance in the day of the Lord, While this prophecy is sure, it yet awaits fulfillment but Jerusalem was not then entirely freed from Canaanite, for we read ‘The Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day’ (Josh. 15:63).

By the days of Judges, Jerusalem had become ‘the city of a stranger’ that is not of the children of Israël’ (Jud. 19:10,12). With the advent of David, the type of Christ the King, the restoration of Jerusalem took place. First, we read that David brought the evidence of his victory over Goliath to Jerusalem (1 Sam. 17:54), and then after the death of Saul, David reigned over all Israël and Judah in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:5).

Here in the history of Jerusalem from Melchizedek to David we have an epitome of its fall and rise again.

A  Salem. – Melchizedek. – King of righteousness.

B  Adoni-zedek — Amorite / Canaanite dominion a type of this world.

B  Goliath — one of the giants / Canaanite dominion a type of this world.

A  Jerusalem. – David. – King of Israël.

The history of Jerusalem opens and closes with a Priest and a King of God’s appointing, but the attainment of that goal will not be accomplished without great opposition from the enemy. In the overcoming of Adoni-zedek there is a foreshadowing of the ultimate triumph of the true seed over the evil seed, for all prophecy runs back at last to Genesis 3:15. When David slew Goliath he chose as his weapon a ‘smooth stone out of the brook’, and did so, apparently, because as a shepherd lad he had become skilful with sling and stone. Goliath represented the colossus of Daniel, and the smooth stone foreshadowed ‘the stone cut out without hands, which smote the image’ (Dan. 2:34). If we can but keep these tremendous issues in mind, then the chequered history of Jerusalem will become intelligible and the overthrowing of Babylon at the close of the Apocalypse essential. The usurpation and domination of Jerusalem by Gentile powers characterizes the history of Jerusalem, until, in the language of Zechariah 14:21:

  • ‘There shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts’

and the treading down of the Holy City ceases for ever. Four sieges of Jerusalem stands out in history. Two being recorded as past events in Scripture, one foretold, but unrecorded in Scripture, and one future investment in the last days.

  1. The siege under Sennacherib (2 Kings 18:13 to 20:21). Isaiah places this story central in his prophecy as: Assyrian Invasion And Deliverance – Isaiah 36 to 39. This assuring record of deliverance from the Assyrian invader, gives encouragement to believe that in the last days a greater Sennacherib could and would likewise be smitten without hand.
  2. The successive sieges under Nebuchadnezzar: (a) Against Jehoiakim (2 Chron. 36:6,7). (b) Against Jehoiachim (2 Chron. 36:10). (c) Against Zedekiah (2 Chron. 36:11-16).
  3. The destruction of Jerusalem, foretold in Matthew 23:37-39; 24:1,2, which took place under Titus in A.D. 70.
  4. The future investment (besieging) of Jerusalem and its deliverance at the Coming of Christ, when His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4).

Again we pause to exhibit another epitome of the prophetic story of Jerusalem.

A  Sennacherib. – ‘The angel of the Lord went forth, and smote in the camp of the Assyrians’.

B  Nebuchadnezzar. — Gentile dominion begins. The test, and sign.

B  Titus. — Gentile dominion continues. The treading down of Jerusalem Luke 21:24.

A  All nations. ‘Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight’.

From this resume it will be seen that Gentile domination of Jerusalem has always been under Divine control. Sennacherib is turned back by God. Nebuchadnezzar is appointed Head of Gold by God. The destruction under Titus was foretold and complete, yet the investment even by all nations will prove ineffective.

The story of Jerusalem cannot be told in these pages, the amount of material is too great. Perhaps no one book provides so clear and varied a light as does the prophecy of Zechariah [www.israeltoday.nl]. The name Jerusalem occurs forty times (the number of testing), and is related to both blessing and judgment. What was foreshadowed in Genesis 14 under the King-Priest, is at last seen to be fulfilled when Israël becomes a kingdom of Priests and the sacred words HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD will no longer be exclusively used on the high priest’s mitre, but: ‘In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD’S house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be NO MORE THE CANAANITE in the house of the LORD of hosts’ (Zech. 14:20,21).

By Charles H. Welch – Berean Expositor / www.bereanonline.org

[The challenges for Israël in 2019/5779 are many. How do they deal with their many enemies (a) from outside, whether actively hostile nations or (b) the economy, cultural and scientific boycotts that come from mainly western nations or bodies like the UN and EU (c) political opposition against them as a Jewish state or (d) internal political/cultural or religious division. Israël might appear to be in turmoil but it really is a miracle of God’s making and one cannot help being drawn to the scriptures that speak of the reason behind the restoration of this unique people. Either God is responsible — which He is or else Israël is the greatest mistake that has ever taken place — which it is clearly not!!

Time and again the prophet Ezekiel spoke about God’s determination to restore and redeem His people — not because they deserved it BUT, “for His Holy Name sake. “First “… that they might know that He is the Lord” and then, “That the world might know that He is God“. God is opening “blind eyes” in Israël but those who defy Him, God’s glory can only cause blindness to their eyes. The big question is the one the disciples asked for Jesus. “Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israël …?” (Ezek. 36:22-23)].

CHURCH and KINGDOM …

The English word ‘church’ has come down to us from the Greek through the Gothic. Walafrid Strabo, who wrote about A.D. 840 gives as the explanation of the word ‘kyrch’ the Greek kuriake, a word that means ‘related to the Lord’, as he kuriake hemera ‘the Lord’s day’. The Scottish word ‘kirk’ retains the sound of the Greek original still. In ordinary parlance, the word church can refer both to the body of worshippers assembled together, or to the building in which they are met, but there is no instance in the New Testament where the word ‘church’ refers to a building. In the ministry of Paul a transition in the usage of the word is observable which is dispensationally important. Before Acts 28 and while the hope of Israël still obtained, the apostle addressed six epistles to different companies of believers. ‘Unto the churches of Galatia’, ‘Unto the church of the Thessalonians’, ‘Unto the church of God which is at Corinth’. Thus five of these early epistles use the word ‘church’ in a local sense. Romans is the exception in this group, this epistle is not addressed to ‘the church which is at Rome’ but ‘To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints’ (Rom. 1:7), the word church being reserved for the last chapter, where it occurs five times.

This prepares the way for the great change which meets us in Ephesians and Colossians. In these great epistles of the Mystery, the word church is not used in the opening salutation, but is invested with new glory, the first occurrence being in Ephesians 1:22,23, ‘The church which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all’. The word translated ‘church’, is with one exception the translation of the Greek word ekklesia, which becomes in English ecclesia and enters into the composition of such words as ecclesiastical etc. The one exception is Acts 19:37, ‘robbers of churches’, which the Revised Version more correctly renders ‘robbers of temples’. Ekklesia occurs in the New Testament 115 times, three of these occurrences being translated ‘assembly’ the rest ‘church’. The Septuagint version uses the word about eighty times, but we will defer their examination until we have finished our survey of the usage of the word in the New Testament.

The following extract from Trench on the Synonyms of the New Testament is of interest:

  • ‘There are words whose history it is peculiarly interesting to watch, as they obtain a deeper meaning, and receive a new consecration, in the Christian Church; which, even while it did not invent, has yet assumed them into its service, and employed them in a far loftier sense than any to which the world had ever put them before. The very word by which the Church is named is itself an example — a more illustrious one could scarcely be found — of this gradual ennobling of a word. For we have it in three distinct stages of meaning — the heathen, the Jewish, and the Christian. In respect of the first, as all know, was the lawful assembly in a free Greek city of all those possessed of the rights of citizenship, for the transaction of public affairs. That they were summoned is expressed in the latter part of the word; that they were summoned out of the whole population, a large, but at the same time a select portion of it, including neither the populace, nor strangers, not yet those who had forfeited their civic rights, this is expressed in the first. Both the calling and the calling out, are moments to be remembered, when the word is assumed into a higher Christian sense, for in them the chief part of its peculiar adaptation to its auguster uses lies. It is interesting to observe how, on one occasion in the New Testament the word returns to this its earlier significance (Acts 19:32,39,41)’.

The LXX uses the word ekklesia to translate the Hebrew qahal. Qahal means to call, to assemble, and the noun form means a congregation or assembly. Solomon is called koheleth the Preacher, translated by the LXX ekklesiastes. The earliest known occurrence of the word is found in Job 30:28, ‘I cried in the congregation’. In the books of the law, qahal is rendered by the Greek word sunagoge, showing that the synagogue is the beginning of the New Testament church. Stephen in his speech which ended in his martyrdom referred to the history of Israël, and dwells for considerable length upon the one great leader Moses, saying in Acts 7:38:

  • This is he, that was in the CHURCH in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai’.

The people of Israël, looked upon as ‘a called-out assembly’ were ‘the Church’ of that period.

In the nineteenth chapter of Acts, a reference is made to the Greek usage of the word ekklesia. The concourse of people gathered to the theatre at Ephesus is referred to as an ekklesia, ‘the assembly was confused’ (Acts 19:32). Upon the arrival of the town clerk, he reproved the people for the rashness of their proceedings saying: ‘If ye inquire anything concerning other matters, it shall be determined in a lawful assembly (ekklesia)’ (Acts 19:39), and having thus spoken he dismissed the assembly (Acts 19:41). Here the word is used in its original sense, a called-out people, assembled for a particular purpose. It will be seen, therefore, that it is not enough to point to the word ‘church’ and thereby set aside the distinctive callings of God. The kingdom as announced in Matthew is not to be contrasted with a church, but is in itself to be viewed as a company of called-out ones. The reference to the church in Matthew 16:18 does not look to the subject of subsequent revelation reserved for the prison ministry of the apostle Paul, but to the calling that was announced in the Gospel of the Kingdom. There was a ‘church’ before Pentecost, as Matthew 18:17 makes clear.

In the Prison Epistles the word ekklesia is advanced to its highest conception. It is ‘the body of Christ’, it will be ‘the fulness of Him that filleth all in all’. It will be seen that it is not enough to say: ‘The church began at Pentecost’, we must go further, and define what church is in view. Under the heading ekklesia or ‘called-out company’ we find the following different assemblies, ranging from the nation of Israël separated from all the nations of the earth down to the church to which Philemon acted of host. Before, therefore, we build up any doctrine upon the presence of the word ‘church’ in any passage of Scripture we should consult the context and realize the dispensation in which any particular church finds its calling and sphere.

Ekklesia

  1. The nation of Israël viewed as distinct in their calling to be a kingdom of Priests in the earth (Acts 7:38). In this light it will be perceived that some care must be exercised when we are seeking to differentiate between the Kingdom and the Church.
  2. The Church spoken of as existing in the days of Christ’s earthly ministry before either His sacrificial death, or before the day of Pentecost (Matt. 18:17).
  3. The Church concerning which Christ spoke as future, and built upon the rock, and confession: ‘Thou art the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the living God’ related to Peter with his keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18).
  4. The Church which was formed in the day of Pentecost, which: (a) partly fulfilled the prophecy of Joël 2:28,29. (b) awaits complete fulfillment until the future day of the Lord. (c) is inseparable from the enduement of spiritual gifts. (d) is inseparable from the kingdom of Israël (Acts 1:6, 2:30,31). (e) is inseparable from baptism for the remission of sins. This Church is related to the dispersion (Jas. 1:1; 5:14).
  5. The Church of God, which Paul persecuted before his conversion in Acts 9 (Gal. 1:13, 1 Cor. 15:9; Phil. 3:6) and which continued to assemble and to grow under his subsequent ministry (1 Cor. 1:2; 11:16; 1 Thess. 2:14; 2 Thess. 1:4).
  6. The Church of God, called in the same chapter, the Church of the living God (1 Tim. 3:5,15) to whom was directed that ministry of re-adjustment which had in view the building up of the body of Christ until all arrived in the unity of the faith, etc. Eph. 4:11-13).
  7. The Church of the One Body, the calling that goes back before the foundation of the world, and ascends to the position ‘far above all’ where Christ sits. This church is entirely disassociated from all previous companies, having no relation with Israël, Abraham or New Covenant, but filling the great dispensational parenthesis of Israël’s blindness, which fell on that nation in Acts 28. The status, calling and constitution of this Church can be gathered by reading Ephesians and Colossians, remembering as the reading progresses, ever to ‘try the things that differ’ (Philip. 1:10).
  8. The seven Churches of Asia (Rev. 1 to 3), one of them namely the Church at Pergamos, will be in the city ‘where Satan’s seat is’ (Rev. 2:13). These seven churches will resume where the Church of Pentecost left off and carry the fulfillment of Joël 2:28,29 through to its end. In these Churches there will be some who who will ‘say they are Jews and are not’ (Rev. 2:9). This company, though enumerated separately, really falls under heading No. 4, but owing to the setting aside of Israël at the coming in of the dispensation of the Mystery, we have listed these Churches separately.

We believe that the earnest student who obeys the injunction of 2 Timothy 2:15 ‘rightly divide the word of truth’ and the sequel in Philippians 1:10 ‘that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ’ is to the same effect as that of 2 Timothy 2:15, ‘approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to ashamed’; and discovers under which of these heads ‘the church’ under examination falls, will have no difficulty in correctly relating any church mentioned in the New Testament with its respective calling and dispensation.

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KINGDOM and CHURCH …

Two very important terms that every student of Dispensational Truth must study are the words ‘kingdom’ and ‘church’, otherwise nothing but confusion must follow the misunderstanding and misuse of these terms. We have given some attention to the word ‘church’ in Part One, we now turn our attention to the term ‘kingdom’.

In the first place let us remember that every word has a ‘pedigree’, it has an environment called its ‘context’, and it has a set of connotations ‘implying certain attributes’. When we hear for the first time that it is proposed to change the word ‘kingdom’ for the word ‘government’, we may feel that there is nothing here for debate, but we have only to consider the pedigree, the context and the connotation, to realize that this translation ultimately robs the Son of God of His Crown rights!

Great Britain, Russia or the United States have a GOVERNMENT, but we have yet to learn that a President has had a coronation, sits on a throne, wields a sceptre or reigns, yet each of these terms is an essential ‘attribute’ of the word we are considering.

First let us discover what the word translated ‘kingdom’ and its variants meant to the Greek himself, and if it be objected that the Greek was outside inspired Scripture let us be modest enough to realize that we are too, when we attempt any translation into our own tongue. For the pedigree of the term we turn to the Lexicon of Liddell and Scott, who had no axe to grind, and who suppressed no essential evidence.

  • Basileia. A kingdom, dominion, hereditary monarchy opposed to Tyrannis, and secondly, a diadem.
  • Basileion. A kingly dwelling, palace, seat of empire, royal city, royal treasury, tiara, diadem.
  • Basileios. A king, prince, lord, frequently with collateral sense of Captain or Judge, later an hereditary king, then the king’s son, prince or any sharing in the government: at Athens, the second of the nine Archons. After the Persian war the King of Persia was called Basileus, so afterward the Roman Emperors.
  • Basileutos. Under monarchical government.
  • Basileuo. To be king, to rule, to be made king, to rule over a people, to be governed or administered, to be of the king’s party.
  • Basilikos. Royal, kingly, like a king, princely.

It will be seen that any translation that removes from the mind the concept ‘ROYAL’ is not ‘LOYAL’ to the testimony of Greek usage.

We, however, have always said that while the testimony of the Greek Lexicon is important, Greek was not the basic language of inspiration. For that we must turn to the Hebrew, and if the Hebrew eliminates the concept ‘royal’ then ‘government’ may be as good as any other translation.

If, in the estimate of the Hebrew, the word ‘government’ would be a good synonym for the word ‘kingdom’, it would help us if there could be produced just ONE example. The fact of the matter is that though there are two Hebrew and two Greek words translated ‘government’ and eleven Hebrew and five Greek words translated ‘governor’ one Chaldee and three Hebrew words translated ‘to govern’, not once does the word ‘king’ or ‘kingdom’ appear. Again we concede that the argument from silence may be misleading, and so we proceed to positive evidence by which we must be bound and by which all unprejudiced translation must be bound likewise. From this testimony there can be no appeal unless we are to join the ranks of those who reject the inspiration of the originals, and if we get as far as that, what does anything matter, ‘Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die!’

The word translated ‘KING’ in the Hebrew Old Testament is the word melek. It occurs 2,520 times, 2,518 times it is translated ‘KING’ and twice ‘ROYAL’, and in no other way. Perhaps we shall find a divergence if we consult the Chaldee equivalent. That word occurs 155 times, 154 times translated ‘KING’, once ‘ROYAL’, and in no other way. This seems convincing enough but we will leave no stone unturned or give any ground for saying that we have only presented selected references. We will have the whole evidence.

  • Melukah – is translated ‘kingdom’ 18, ‘king’s’ 2, ‘royal’ 4. No other way.
  • Malekuth – ’empire’ 1, ‘kingdom’ 49, ‘realm’ 4, ‘reign’ 21, ‘royal’ 14. No other way.
  • Chaldee equivalent – ‘kingdom’ 46, ‘realm’ 3, ‘reign’ 4, ‘kingly’ 1. No other way.
  • Mamlakah – ‘kingdom’ 108, ‘reign’ 2, ‘king’ 1, ‘royal’ 4. No other way.
  • Mamlakuth – ‘kingdom’ 8, ‘reign’ 1. No other way.

With such evidence, counsel could sit down and the jury could return but one verdict. We do not intend to say what that verdict must be, we are lords over no man’s faith, but we are absolutely sure ourselves. We quote salutary words uttered by another:

  • ‘Real conviction concerning great truths can come only when we have made our own personal studies and come to our own independent conclusions’.

We have presented our evidences which have been reached in conformity with Paul’s injunction:

  • ‘Not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual’.

We cannot help feeling glad, however, that when we have arrived at our conclusions we are not found robbing Christ of His Crown, Throne or Royal prerogatives. God will yet say from heaven:

  • ‘Yet have I set My KING upon My holy hill of Zion’.

Basileus occurs 118 times in the New Testament and is always translated ‘king’; Basileia occurs 161 Times, seventy-two of which are used in the phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven’, and thirty-two in the phrase ‘the kingdom of God’, leaving fifty-seven references to include every other mention of a kingdom. Some special variants of the phrase ‘the kingdom of God’ are:

  1. ‘The kingdom of Christ and of God’ (Eph. 5:5).
  2. ‘The kingdom of His dear Son’ (Col. 1:13).
  3. ‘His heavenly kingdom’ (2 Tim. 4:18).
  4. ‘The everlasting kingdom of our Lord’ (2 Petr. 1:11).

The kingdom of God is found seven times in Acts (Acts 1:3; 8:12; 14:22; 19:8; 20:25; 28:23 and 31). Once in Acts we have a question as to the restoration of ‘The kingdom again to Israël’ (Acts 1:6). The kingdom of God occurs in Paul’s epistles as follows: once in Romans 14:17, ‘The kingdom of God is not meat and drink’, four times in 1 Corinthians, ‘The kingdom of God is not in word’ (1 Cor. 4:20), ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of God’ (6:9,10), ‘cannot inherit the kingdom of God’ (15:50), once in Galatians, ‘shall not inherit the kingdom of God’ (Gal. 5:21), once in Colossians, ‘my fellow-workers unto the kingdom of God’ (Col. 4:11), once in 2 Thessalonians, ‘counted worthy of the kingdom of God’ (2 Thess. 1:5).

We must examine these passages presently, but before doing so, the gospels claim attention owing to the insistent use of the term ‘the kingdom of heaven’ and ‘the kingdom of God’. While we must be prepared to discover a difference between ‘the kingdom of heaven’ and ‘the kingdom of God’, we must not do so to the ignoring of the most evident fact that where Matthew uses the one phrase, Mark or Luke uses the other. Whether Christ spoke to the people in Aramaic we do not know, but there are passages where His actual expressions are recorded, e.g. talitha cumi, which is Aramaic. If Matthew and Luke record the same utterance, then even though Matthew says ‘heaven’ and Luke says ‘God’, that divergence is merely the consequence of translation, and the point of view of the different readers that were visualized. The following list will suffice to show that ‘heaven’, and ‘God’ are used interchangeably at least in some passages.

  • Matt. 4:17 ‘Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’.
  • Mark 1:15 ‘The kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye’.
  • Matt. 5:3 ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven’.
  • Luke 6:20 ‘Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God’.
  • Matt. 19:14 ‘Suffer little children … for of such is the kingdom of heaven’.
  • Mark 10:14 ‘Suffer the little children … for of such is the kingdom of God’.
  • Matt. 19:23 ‘A rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven’.
  • Luke 18:24 ‘How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God’.
  • Matt. 11:11 ‘He that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater that he’.
  • Luke 7:28 ‘He that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he’.
  • Matt. 13:11 ‘It is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’.
  • Luke 8:10 ‘Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God’.

This list is by no means exhaustive, but is sufficient for the purpose. The Jews used the term ‘heaven’ where we would use the name of ‘God’. We have in the New Testament examples of this usage: Matthew 21:25, Luke 15:21, John 3:27; and such expressions as the ‘fear of heaven’, the ‘service of heaven’, ‘the name of heaven’ (that could be blasphemed) are constantly recurring in Rabbinical literature. Elias Levita said: ‘they call God heaven because heaven is the place of His habitation’, and whether we are satisfied with the explanation offered, the fact is stated ‘they call God heaven’. The expression ‘the kingdom of heaven’ was used in an extremely wide sense by some Rabbinical writers, for ‘the yoke of the kingdom of heaven’ referred to the wearing of phylacteries. This idea, however, need not be imported into the teaching of the New Testament, it only shows how a phrase could be employed and how impossible it would be for a foreigner unassisted to arrive at such a meaning.

While the phrase ‘the kingdom of heaven’ is found only in Matthew, and the parallel passage in Mark and Luke read ‘the kingdom of God’, there are five passages in Matthew where he departs from the normal and uses the phrase ‘the kingdom of God’ (Matt. 6:33, 12:28; 19:24; 21:31 and 43). The word basileuo is used of Archelaus (Matt. 2:22), and also of a ‘nobleman’ (Luke 19:14); it is used also of the reign of death, of sin, and of grace in Romans (Rom. 5:14,17,21; 6:12).

There are seven variants of the phrase ‘the kingdom of’:

  1. The kingdom of heaven. This kingdom will be the fulfillment of the prayer ‘Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven’ (Matt. 6:10). It will be the realization of the promise of Deuteronomy 11:21, ‘the days of heaven upon the earth’. It will be the fulfillment of that which Nebuchadnezzar dimly saw, namely that ‘the heavens do rule’, that ‘the Most High ruleth in the kingdom of men’ (Dan. 4:25,26). Upon the evident rejection of Christ (Matt. 11:20-24; 12:6,41,42) He explained to His bewildered disciples the course that the kingdom would take, revealing to them in parable form ‘the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven’ (Matt. 13:11).
  2. The kingdom of God. This term, as we have seen, may be as limited in scope as the term ‘the kingdom of heaven’, but on the other hand it can be as universal as the sovereignty of God. There is nothing extraordinary about this double usage for we exercise the same discretion in daily conversation. Writing to one person, I might say, ‘I live in London’, but to another I might say ‘I live in England’. There would be no contradiction, the only thing to remember would be that ‘London’ like the kingdom of heaven, is more limited than ‘England’, which is like the kingdom of God. Consequently we shall find the kingdom of God in Paul’s epistles, but to jump to the conclusion that their teaching therefore ‘is all one and the same as that of the Gospels’ would be as foolish as assuming that because I wrote to say that I lived in England, and it was known that a friend in Oxford lived in England, that London and Oxford were all one and the same. There are spheres in the kingdom of God which the kingdom of heaven can never embrace.
  3. The kingdom of their Father. The fact that this passage (Matt. 13:43) does not say the kingdom of the Father, but the kingdom of their father, shows that the emphasis here is on their relationship by new birth (John 3:3). So also ‘My Father’s kingdom’ (Matt. 26:29) is one not so much of sphere and scope but of relationship. The kingdom of the ‘Father’ is not of frequent occurrence.
  4. The kingdom of the Son of Man. ‘The Son of Man coming in His kingdom’ (Matt. 16:28). With this passage should be associated the many references to the Lord as ‘The Son of Man’. Of the eighty-eight occurrences, no less than eighty-four are found in the Gospels. It occurs but once in the epistles, namely in Hebrews 2:6, and is a quotation from Psalm 8. The Lord as the Son of Man will fulfill the prophetic vision of Daniel 7, as He affirmed before the High Priest (Matt. 26:64).
  5. The kingdom of Christ and of God (Eph. 5:5) and The kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13), together with Paul’s reference to ‘His heavenly kingdom’ (2 Tim. 4:18) show plainly that while the kingdom of heaven, and the kingdom of Israël must not be confounded with the church, the church is nevertheless a part of that sovereignty that embraces all.
  6. The everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 1:11). Peter ministered to the circumcision (Gal. 2:8).
  7. The kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15). This will fulfill the promise of Psalm 2, and is far removed from the hope of the church, for it is as ‘Prince of the kings of the earth’ that at the sounding of the seventh trumpet, ‘the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ’. The Stone cut out without hands, not only destroys the Gentile dynasty, but we learn that ‘in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed … it shall stand for ever (or to the ages)’ (Dan. 2:44).

We return now to the references to a kingdom in Paul’s ministry. In Acts 20:25 he summed up his early ministry in the words ‘preaching the kingdom of God’. When he met the elders of the Jews at that fateful all-day conference of Acts 28:23, he testified to the kingdom of God, but with the following limitations; it was that phase of the kingdom of God that was associated with ‘Jesus’, and could be substantiated by Moses and the Prophets. After the dismissal of Israël, at the beginning of the dispensation of the Mystery, Paul preached the kingdom of God as it was associated with ‘the Lord Jesus Christ’, not now with ‘Jesus’, but as the Mystery had by then been revealed, there is significance in the complete omission of any reference to Moses and the Prophets (Acts 28:31).

Twice the apostle tells us what the kingdom of God is NOT. It is not meat and drink but ‘righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost’ (Rom. 14:17). In 1 Corinthians 4:20 he says: ‘for the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power’. Four solemn utterances of the apostle refer to those things which prevent inheritance of the kingdom of God. 1 Corinthians 6:9,10, Galatians 5:19-21 and Ephesians 5:5, give a list of fleshly lusts and practices that one can hardly associate with those called ‘saints’, yet these things are written to warn the believer that he may forfeit spheres of glory, even though he will be saved ‘so as by fire’. These passages must be read , not in view of unalterable position of Colossians 1:12 where we have been made meet for the inheritance, but in the light of Colossians 3:24,25 where in the same epistle we read of the ‘reward of the inheritance’ and of its possible forfeiture. With these references we should read 2 Thessalonians 1:5, where the apostle speaks of believers being counted ‘worthy’ of the kingdom of God for which they also suffered. The kingdom of His dear Son (Col. 1:13) is set over against ‘the authority of darkness’, the kingdom of the Son being the antithese of the kingdom of Satan.

For the sake of clarity, we speak of ‘kingdom truth’ as something that is different from ‘church truth’, and no harm will be done, but much help received by observing this distinction, providing we ever remember that all callings — kingdom, church and other companies of the redeemed, whether on earth, in the heavenly city of far above all — must be comprehended in the all-embracive kingdom of God.

By Charles H. Welch – Berean Expositor – London.

Email address: booksatbpt@btinternet.com

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Waarom verkoos koning David Jeruzalem als hoofdstad?

Drieduizend jaar geleden veroverde Koning David Jeruzalem en maakte deze stad tot hoofdstad van Israël. Maar waarom koos de jonge koning niet voor een andere stad? Hebron, Beith El en Sichem waren ook belangrijke steden in het land Kanaän. Maar David verkoos Jeruzalem vanwege haar politieke, economische en strategische betekenis. Dat kun je in de Bijbel tussen de regels door lezen.

Jeruzalem wordt het vaakst in verband gebracht met het offer van Isaak op de berg Moria, dat gelukkig niet doorging (Genesis 22). Maar in deze bijbeltekst wordt over het land Moria gesproken, niet over de berg Moria. Een verband tussen de berg Moria en de Joodse tempel zien we pas later in de Bijbel verschijnen in 2 Kronieken 3:1:

  • Toen begon Salomo met de bouw van de tempel voor de Heer, in Jeruzalem, op de berg Moria, waar zijn vader David een verschijning had gehad, op de dorsvloer van de Jebusiet Ornan die David als bouwplaats had aangewezen’. 

Koning David maakte een wijze keuze toen hij Jeruzalem verkoos. Elke andere hoofdstad zou rivaliteit en strijd hebben gegeven tussen de stammen van Israël, want elke stam zou hebben gewild dat de hoofdstad in het eigen gebied lag. Maar dat heeft David weten te voorkomen.

Hebron lag in het gebied van Juda, Beit El, Shilo en Sichem in het gebied van Efraim. David hield waarschijnlijk rekening met de stammenstrijd uit de tijd van de Rechters. Gideon (Rechters 6), Jefta (11-12), de schanddaad in Gibea (19-21). Jeruzalem was niet omstreden onder Jakobs zonen. Het behoorde tot de Jebusieten, en was dus geen politiek of religieus centrum. Koning David voerde verzoening en eenheid binnen het Joodse volk hoog in het vaandel. Hij wist uit de geschiedenis hoe moeilijk het kan zijn om de stammen als één volk te verenigen.

Ook besefte David dat geen enkele stad kan bestaan zonder natuurlijke waterbronnen, en in de buurt van Jeruzalem zijn twee grote waterbronnen: Gihon en Ein Rogel. Bovendien lag Jeruzalem op heuvels. De stad kon dus beter worden verdedigd dan andere steden in het land. De enige zwakke plek was de noordzijde. In de andere richtingen lagen dalen en andere natuurlijke hindernissen. De historicus Harel Menashe, gespecialiseerd in Bijbelse geografie, schrijft in zijn boek ‘De biografie van het volk aan de hand van de geografie van het land‘, dat de top van een westelijke heuvel in de buurt van de Tempelberg, precies 777meter boven de zeespiegel ligt. Het getal 777 staat volgens de numerologie voor goddelijke volkomenheid en gerechtigheid.

Jeruzalem lag centraal tussen alle stammen van Israël, en toen het land uitéénviel in twee koninkrijken, lag Jeruzalem precies op het grensgebied tussen Juda en Israël. Jeruzalem is dus eeuwenlang neutraal gebied geweest en tot symbool geworden voor de eenheid van de hele natie.

Jeruzalem lag op de zogenaamde Bergstraat van de aartsvaders (JudeaSamaria) en vormde de verbinding tussen het noorden en het zuiden. Bovendien lag Jeruzalem precies tussen de Middellandse Zeekust in het westen en de stammen ten oosten van de rivier de Jordaan.

David bracht de Ark van het Verbond naar de stad. Zo werd Jeruzalem ook het geestelijke centrum voor all stammen. Toen David nog bezig was met de bouw van zijn koninklijke paleis, begon hij al het verlangen te krijgen om een huis te bouwen voor de Ark van het Verbond. Maar zijn zoon Salomo zou tenslotte de Tempel bouwen. Drieduizend jaar later verklaarde de eerste premier van het moderne Israël, David Ben Goerion, op 5 december 1949, dat Jeruzalem de eeuwige hoofdstad van Israël was. Deze keer werd Jeruzalem niet op dezelfde gronden als die van koning David tot hoofdstad gekozen, maar op historische en geestelijke gronden.

Terugblik: December 2018 /Aviel Schneider/ www.israeltoday.co.il 

www.israeltoday.nl

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Een “fantastische” voorstelling van zaken in 2019?

Zeker, maar dat is de gehele schepping, dat is heel het gebeuren met Israël, de maagdelijke geboorte, de wonderen, de opstanding van de Messias Jezus, de hemelvaart, de wederkomst óók.

Vergeten wij niet dat de mensheid anno 2019 meer en meer op het fantastische raakt ingespeeld, dat de geesten meer en meer worden voorbereid op de openbaring van het fantastische. Sommige denken aan ruimtevaarders van andere werelden. Anderen zeggen dat het “materialisaties” van engelen zijn.

Zogenaamde religieus-wetenschappelijke boeken vertellen ons dat de oudtestamentische God, die in wolk en vuurkolom het volk Israël in de woestijn begeleidde een hoog ontwikkelde ruimtevaarder is geweest die Israël verkoos als experimenteel object . . . Het zou echt iets voor de antichrist [anti-Messias] zijn de bijbelverhalen die eeuwenlang als mythen zijn beschouwd, voor “echt” te verklaren, maar dan op de wijze als hierboven geschetst. Dan zou “god” een kosmonaut zijn van een ondenkbaar hoge kosmische beschaving, die met de mensheid “experimenteert” en die door de vrije mens als zijn ergste vijand moet worden beschouwd.

Vanzelfsprekend zijn dit speculatieve veronderstellingen. Ze zeggen niet dat het zo zal gaan, maar dat het zo zou kùnnen gaan, slechts om aan te tonen dat onze “mondige generaties” reeds rijp worden gemaakt voor de grote verleugening, een leugenstelsel dat nog oneindig geraffineerder is dan velen van ons zich kunnen voorstellen.

In het voorgaande is gewezen op oorzaken van fantastische aard, die ertoe kunnen leiden dat de draak en de twee beesten erin zullen slagen de politieke leiders en hun legermachten te mobiliseren tegen God en Zijn Messias. Onze tijd leent zich bij uitstek om dit nog begrijpelijker te maken, en dan in minder fantastische zin. Al is dit “minder” slechts een kwestie van gewenning, want wat wij nù al gewoon vinden was voor enkele decennia ook “fantastisch”.

Het machtigste wapen in de handen van de antichristelijke geest is de bewustzijnsbeïnvloeding en verandering. In Openbaring 16:14 lezen we van “geesten en duivelen” die uitgaan tot de leiders der volken. Door tekenen. Zò machtig zal de betovering, de magie zijn, dat niet alleen de argeloze massa maar ook de “wereldwijde” en cynische leiders onder hun invloed komen. De politieke wereldleider, zoals deze getekend wordt in het beest, “dat was en toch weer is”, zal een indruk van onsterfelijkheid en onoverwinnelijkheid maken. De macht over natuurkrachten, een “geest geven” aan een dood beeld, zal deze indruk nog versterken. Het occultisme wordt op een ongekende wijze verbreid. Para-psychologie, een wetenschap, die tot voor kort bovenzintuiglijke en bovenzinnelijke eigenschappen van de menselijke hersenen bestudeerde en als zodanig als een legitieme wetenschap kon worden aangemerkt, is nu al jaren een object van onderzoek van legerstaven geworden. Zelfs is men in Rusland, China en in de Verenigde Staten doende paranormale begaafdheden aan te leren en paranormale verschijnselen te verbinden aan natuurlijke processen, [[ https://www.scribd.com/user/28277034/Hubert-Luns ]]

Dat klinkt allemaal erg vaag en onwezenlijk, maar het komt concreet neer op het ontwikkelen van mogelijkheden mensen op afstand te beïnvloeden. Misschien is men zelfs al bezig door het “uitzenden” van bepaalde golven, mensen die zij als vijanden beschouwen, waaronder stellig ook gelovigen, te “storen” in de functies van hersenen en centraal zenuwstelsel. In elk geval zijn bepaalde onderzoekingen daarop gericht. Men behoeft ons niet van paranoïde verschijnselen of “doemdenken” te beschuldigen om een en ander vast te stellen. Maar mocht iemand denken dat wij toch nog op “fantastisch” niveau bezig zijn, laten wij dan eens kijken naar de dingen die al overbekend zijn.

De voornaamste vijand waartegen we te strijden hebben is niet meer de politieke, dictatoriale machtsvertoning, maar de stelselmatige en van “boven” geleide manipulaties met het menselijk bewustzijn, bewuste verdraaiing van de werkelijkheid en de bewuste ontkrachting van constante waarden en normen. Uit alle hoeken, uit alle regionen van de maatschappij komen die onreine geesten op ons af.

Er is altijd veel indoctrinatie en misleiding geweest, niet het minst in de Kerk, in de Partij, in de school, op de Universiteit. Maar het was een trage verleugening, voor betrekkelijk weinigen “effectief”. Het bijgeloof als dwaling maar niet als vervalsing van het integrale geloof laten we hier even buiten beschouwing.

In onze dagen met praktisch onbeperkte mediale mogelijkheden als bijvoorbeeld de social media, krant en televisie, is de verleugning en misleiding, de geestelijke chaotische kracht, vrijwel ongelimiteerd. De vroegere traagheid is omgeturnd tot schrikbarende snelheid en opeenvolging van indoctrinatie. De “doelgroep” is niet meer een betrekkelijk kleine groep, maar de “massa”.

De basis van het complot ligt in de gezinnen, de scholen, de vormingsinstituten en de hogescholen en universiteiten. Stelselmatig wordt bijvoorbeeld de jeugd vergiftigd door de zogenaamde “doorbreking van taboes”, door hen soms zelfs te pressen schuttingwoorden te zeggen als “bevrijdend” voor hun “arme, in christelijke garelen geklemde zieltjes”. De jeugd wordt onder het mom van “revolutie” anarchie aangepraat. Ouderlijk gezag en overheidsgezag worden als verouderd en bespottelijk voorgesteld. Veel kinderprogramma’s zijn gevuld met een wereld van gedrochten, supermannen, waarin macht, geweld, toverij verheerlijkt worden.

Voeg daarbij de verderfelijke werking van de overal beoefende sensitivity-training, waarin de persoonlijkheid ondergeschikt wordt gemaakt aan het “groepsbewustzijn”. Zie de verdraaiing van de werkelijkheid tot “waarheid” door eenzijdige belichting van de feiten en ontwikkelingen in de kranten en actualiteitsprogramma’s, bijv. als het gaat om de veelal subjectieve berichtgeving over Israël! Wat weet “men” over het algemeen van openlijk aangeprezen en verkochte “handleidingen” voor chaotisering van onze maatschappij, terroristische aanslagen, mentale revolutie, psychologische “omturningstechnieken”, psychologische en psychiatrische technieken om de mensen zo moe en murw te maken dat zij angstig om een “vader” gaan roepen, een wereldpappa, die orde op zaken moet stellen!

Over drugs hoeft niets meer gezegd te worden in dit verband. Daarom willen wij dit gedeelte besluiten met enkele aspecten die misschien als nog niet zò voor de hand liggend te noemen zijn. De massa is bedrieglijk.

Het indoctrinatie proces is dikwijls niet te herkennen door de slachtoffers en wordt zelfs verhuld door mensen die zelf reeds onbewust geïndoctrineerd zijn! De verandering is subtiel.

Er wordt geleidelijk gewerkt aan het “elastisch” maken van de tolerantie. Ook in de kerken, in christelijke organisaties en in de christelijke gezinnen.

De geliefde van vandaag kan morgen – zonder dat wij het direct beseffen – “omgeturnd” zijn en het niet laten merken. De onderwijzer op school kan dezelfde schijnen als hij altijd was, met hetzelfde woordgebruik en hetzelfde leerprogramma en toch de slang in zijn hart hebben en zijn leerlingen verloederen. De programmeurs van de ziel, de uitdenkers en toepassers van psychotechnieken, staan naakt uitgestald voor de waarachtige gelovigen, maar voor de afgedwaalden, ook bij christelijke mensen, schijnen zij liefdevolle, barmhartige, begrijpende en bewogen lieden, vol van sociale en “evangelische” bewogenheid. En toch zijn velen van hen in hun eenzijdigheid en dùs hun verleugening wolven in schaapshuiden, voorlopers en wegbereiders van de antichrist.

Als wij dit allemaal overwegen zien wij ook wel het grote risico van een paranoïde instelling die overal gevaar ziet, ook waar die niet aanwezig is! Grote nuchterheid is vereist en een waarlijk christelijke tolerantie waar het de vergeving van de naaste betreft. Anderzijds kan en mag er nooit aan de normen getornd worden. Wat de strijd tegen de antichristelijke geest en antichristelijke typen betreft, is het gevaarlijk aan een afstand in de tijd te denken. De getuigende gelovigen staan al in de strijd en zij zijn al aan het front. De toekomst des HEREN is al begonnen en daarmee ook de toekomst van de antichrist.

  • En het beest werd gegrepen, en met hem de valse profeet, die de tekenen in de tegenwoordigheid van hem gedaan had, waardoor hij verleid had, die het merkteken van het beest ontvangen hadden, en die zijn beeld aanbaden. Deze twee zijn levend geworpen in de poel des vuurs, die met sulfer brandt.”

Groter anticlimax is niet denkbaar. In slagorde opgesteld onder leiding van het onoverwinnelijke beest, wordt de gehele strategie van de godsvijanden in één klap omver geworpen.

“En het beest werd gegrepen”. Dat is alles. “Wie kan tegen hem oorlog voeren?”

Welnu, het komt zelfs niet tot oorlog: de onoverwinnelijke wordt eenvoudig gegrepen. Het woord “gegrepen” (betere vertaling dan “genomen”) kan niet duidelijker. De onoverwinnelijke is plotseling als verlamd bij de verschijning van de Christus (Messias) en Zijn hemelse leger. Uit niets blijkt dat hij nog een bevel heeft gegeven om aan te vallen of te verdedigen. Het beest wordt eenvoudig gegrepen alsof hij nooit de hele wereld in zijn macht heeft gehad, alsof het nooit als god in de tempel heeft gezeten en aanbeden werd dè supermens.

Hij wordt gegrepen als de eerste de beste. Tekenend is dat er zelfs niet bij gezegd wordt wie hem grijpt. Overal bij de handelingen in Openbaring horen we over engelen en sterke engelen en machtige engelen, maar juist hier wordt volstaan met een anonieme daad. Er is zelfs geen arrestatie, geen gevangenneming, geen verhoor. Zelfs in de felste oorlogen worden vijandelijke bevelhebbers en hoge officieren, als zij gevangen genomen worden, met onderscheiding behandeld.

Het beest, de koning over de gehele aarde, wordt zonder meer gegrepen en als een ordinaire slang in het vuur geslingerd! (Openbaring 19:20).

Levend wordt hij, met zijn handlanger, de valse profeet, in de poel van vuur geworpen. Zo behandelt men nog geen ongedierte, dat eerst nog gedood wordt, voordat het op de ashoop gegooid wordt, of wordt verbrand.

In deze enkele woorden, “en het beest werd gegrepen”, is de toorn van God over het beest en zijn trawant getekend. Ook de volstrekte onbelangrijkheid van deze meest gevreesde tyran uit de geschiedenis in de ogen van de HERE. Als terloops in een oogwenk, als het Godstijd maar is, worden de aartsvijanden plotseling tot niets!!

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THE UNDERGROUND WITH JOEL RICHARDSON

www.joelstrumpet.com

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Studies: WEG UIT BABYLON

www.weguitbabylon.nl

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Israël DAILY:

iltv.tv

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Vanuit Shomron: wekelijks magazine vanuit Israel …

www.studyhousereshiet.com

[Elske Vahl-Leusink geeft een wekelijkse vlog over een Hebreeuws woord, absoluut warm aanbevolen!]

https://elskevahl.com

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DAGELIJKS NIEUWS uit het MIDDEN OOSTEN: de nieuwsbrief …

www.wimjongman.nl

Zie ook de websites:

www.cidi.nl

https://www.likud.nl

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LANCE LAMBERT MINISTRIES:

www.lancelambert.org

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HADDERECH / DE WEG

www.hadderech.nl

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Shabbatviering met Mark Biltz, uit de State Washington:

zaterdags vanaf 19.00 – 21.15 u.

http://www.elshaddaiministries.us

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Gerard J.C. Plas 

 Posted by at 15:32
Nov 092018
 

This prophecy of the Seventy Weeks, however, is of such importance, that a separate study is demanded in an Analysis of Prophetic truth. While Daniel 9 is complete in itself, it follows chapter 8, supplying further details, just as chapter 8 supplements 7; and it will be wise to retain what we have already seen for our present help. Daniel’s increasing concern has been regarding the prophetic future and that which concerns the little horn and his own people. He has taught that past history foreshadows future events, and we are therefore prepared to find that a seventy-year period of Jerusalem’s desolation and Israël’s captivity has a corresponding period of seventy-times-seven associated with Israël, Jerusalem and desolation. Chapter 9 is in itself a considerable theme, but, as Daniel 9 to 12 forms a section of the book, it will perhaps be wise to exhibit the general structure of the passage before entering into detail.

Daniel 9 to 12 as a whole

A 9:1. First year of Darius.

B 9:2-19. Fasting. Daniel understood.

C 9:20-23. The man Gabriel. Daniel, ‘greatly beloved’.

D 9:23-27. ‘I am come to shew thee’.

10:1. Third year of Cyrus.

10:1-3. Fasting. Daniel understood.

10:4-21. The man clothed in linen. Daniel, ‘greatly beloved’.

11 and 12. ‘I will shew thee’.

It will be seen in the above structure (members D and D) that chapters 11 and 12 are a further expansion of the seventy weeks and the abomination of desolation spoken of in Daniel 9:23-27. Chapters 11 and 12 have, in addition, an interrelated correspondence, which we hope to show in its proper place.

We return now to Daniel 9, knowing at least that we are still pursuing the one theme of the book, the time of the end; though we may differ from others in our understanding of the true approach to that end, the ultimate theme is unaffected. In the fulness of time Christ came, whether we name the year A.D. 1 0r 3 B.C., or refrain from assigning a date at all. And so Christ will come again at the end of the seventy weeks, whether they be weeks of days, or weeks of years, or, as some believe, of both. Whether we are able to compute the time or not, He will surely come.

To enable the reader to follow the theme without confusion, we divide our study into four sections:

  1. The prophecy of Jeremiah (Dan. 9:1,2).
  2. The prayer of Daniel (Dan. 9:3-23).
  3. The principle of computing prophetic times.
  4. The prophecy of the seventy weeks.

The Prophecy of Jeremiah

Daniel himself was a prophet, to whom had been granted the spiritual ability to see the meaning of Nebuchadnezzar’s vision’s, and to witness the two visions dealing with the end of the indignation. It is with this event, linked with Jeremiah’s prophecy, that Daniel 9 opens. We have in Zechariah’s positive proof that the ‘time of indignation’ and ‘the seventy years’ of Jeremiah refer to the same period:

  • ‘O LORD of Hosts, how long wilt Thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which Thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?’ (Zech. 1:12).

From Isaiah 10:5 we learn that the Assyrian is the rod of the Lord’s anger: ‘and the staff in their hand is Mine indignation’. The Assyrian is sent against ‘an hypocritical nation … to tread them down like the mire of the streets’ (Isa. 10:6). The Assyrian nation does not, however, intend to be of service to the Lord: it is but fulfilling its own schemes of conquest:

  • ‘Wherefore it shall come to pass, that when the Lord hath performed His whole work upon mount Zion and on Jerusalem, I will punish the fruit of the stout heart of the king of Assyria, and the glory of his high looks’ (Isa. 10:12).

We are prepared by our previous studies to find that the indignation accomplished against Jerusalem by the Assyrian is a foreshadowing of ‘the last end of the indignation’, a future period alluded to in Isaiah 26:20. This period is in mind in Daniel 9:

  • ‘In the first year of his (Darius’) reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that He would accomplished seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem’ (Dan. 9:2).

Among the passages written by Jeremiah that Daniel would have read Jeremiah 25:11:

  • ‘And this whole land shall be a desolation, and an astonishment; and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years’.

Another passage that would have attracted Daniel’s attention is Jeremiah 29:1-10:

  • ‘To all the people whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive from Jerusalem to Babylon … For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place’.

A further passage that would have been of help to Daniel is found in Jeremiah 27:7:

  • ‘And all nations shall service him (Nebuchadnezzar, verse 6), and his son, and his son’s son (Belshazzar), until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him’.

The Proclamation of Cyrus

Another item that bears upon this part of our study is found in Daniel 9:1:

  • ‘In the first year of Darius, the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans’.

Sir H. Rawlinson has shown that the name Ahasuerus is, like Pharaoh, an appellative, meaning ‘Venerable King’, and not used exclusively of any one monarch. Similarly the name Darius, according to Professor Sayce, means ‘The Maintainer’, an appellative of more than one king, rather like the English ‘Defender of the Faith’, which belongs to no one monarch in particular. It is considered by those who have made chronology their study that the Darius of chapter 9 is the Cyrus of chapter 10; the reader will find Appendixes 50 (vii. 5) and 57 of The Companion Bible (www.levendwater.org) helpful in this connection. It would be an unwarranted digression here to enter into the arguments concerning the genealogy of the kings of Persia; but we do feel that our readers should realize the importance of the conclusion that the Ahasuerus of Esther 1:1, the Artaxerxes of Ezra 6:14 and Nehemiah 2:1, and the Darius of Daniel 5:31 represent the same person under different names. The king married Esther, whose son is the Cyrus of Scripture.

It is most interesting to see that Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9 concerning the restoration of Jerusalem is dated in the first year of the king under whose edict the restoration was commenced.

We must now consider, together with Daniel 9, the opening words of Ezra 1:

  • ‘Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put is also in writing, saying, Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He hath charged me to build Him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israël, (He is the God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beast, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem’ (Ezra 1:1-4).

The Proclamation of Artaxerxes 

Before we are fully prepared to continue our study of Daniel 9 there is one further proclamation to be brought into line. We read in Nehemiah 1:1:

  • ‘It came to pass in the month Chisleu, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace’.

This twentieth year of Artaxerxes (see Neh. 2:1) dates as forty-two years from the beginning of the Babylonian servitude, thirty-five years from Jehoiachin’s captivity, twenty-three years from the destruction of Jerusalem, and twenty-five years from the beginning of the desolations (see The Companian Bible – www.levendwater.org).

There are three periods of seventy years that must be kept separate, if we are to avoid confusion: the Servitude, the Captivity, and the Desolations. The servitude began in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar, and ended with the decree of Cyrus just quoted. The Captivity is dated by Ezekiel as from the eight year of Nebuchadnezzar, when Jeconiah was carried away captive. The Desolations commenced with the last siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, and are the subject of Daniel’s prayer in chapter 9. While, therefore, Daniel is associated with the seventy years’ desolation, Nehemiah is connected with the seventy years’ captivity:

  • ‘The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire’ (Neh. 1:3).

The effect of this report upon Nehemiah is very similar to the effect of Jeremiah’s words on Daniel; to appreciate the parallel, Daniel 9 and Nehemiah 1 should be read together.

In Nehemiah two things reach a crisis. As the king’s cupbearer, Nehemiah held a high office, for, in effect, he stood between the king and possible death by poisoning. To have appeared at all distraught in the royal presence might have proved fatal; for he might have fallen under suspicion and have been executed immediately. So, when the king comments upon his sad looks, we read: ‘Then I was very sore afraid’ (Neh. 2:2). Nehemiah then tells the king of the condition of the city of Jerusalem, and the king asks, ‘For what dost thou make request?’ Then we read, ‘So I prayed to the God of heaven. And I said unto the king’ (Neh. 2:4,5).

We pause a moment to observe this true conception of prayer. In Nehemiah’s day ritual was of divine institution; and place, time and attitude in prayer were ordained by law. But Nehemiah was no formalist, for true prayer is ever above all forms. Without any apparent interval, a prayer winged its way into the presence of a greater King than Artaxerxes and deliverance followed.

One other point of interest is contained in Nehemiah 2:6. Nehemiah requests of the king that he may be granted leave of absence to go into Judah and rebuild the city of Jerusalem. The king replies to Nehemiah (the queen also sitting by him), ‘For how long shall thy journey be, and when wilt thou return?’ The queen here mentioned in the parenthesis is none other that Esther, who had already been instrumental in the deliverance or her people as recorded in the book bearing her name. The presence of the queen here is one of the links in the working out of God’s purpose. Under Mordecai, Esther saved Israël; here presence here evidently influenced Artaxerxes, and her son, Cyrus, has his own place in the scheme, as we have seen.

We now turn our attention to the disposition of the subject matter as indicated by the structure, which without undue elaboration is as follows:

PRAYER OF DANIEL (Daniel 9:3-19)

A 9:3. Daniel’s face set unto the Lord God.

B 9:4. Prayer and confession.

C 9:4-5-. Covenant-keeping God. We have sinned.

D 9:-5-10. Rebellion 5. Rebellion. 6. Disobedience to message of prophets. THE PROPHETS 7-9. Righteousness belongeth unto the Lord. Confusion belongeth unto us. Mercies belong unto the Lord. 9. Rebellion. b 10. Disobedience to message of prophets.

9:11-14. Curse 11. The curse, as Moses said. 12. Confirmed words. THE LAW 13. The evil, as Moses said. b 14. Watched evil.

C 9:15. Covenant kept of old by God. We have sinned.

B 9:16-17. Hear prayer and confession.

9:-17-19. The Lord’s face to shine upon the Sanctuary.

Daniel’s prayer centres round the fact that Israël’s terrible desolation is the outcome of rebellion against the word of God, sent from time to time through the prophets, and is but the fulfillment of the curse and the oath, written in the law of Moses long before.

God evidently keeps His word, and Israël have most surely merited their punishment. Yet Daniel reminds himself that God not only watches over the evil perform it, but in the mighty deliverance of Israël from Egypt in days gone by, He was true to His covenant promises, even though Israël had failed. The prayer, therefore, while a confession of Israël’s sin, reminds God of His covenant relationship with the people and the city.

There is a beautiful progression in prayer. At first Daniel speaks of his people without any term of association with the Lord. He speaks of our kings, our princes, our fathers, and the people of the land; of the men of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and of all Israël near and far. Not until we reach the tenth verse is any link established; there Daniel speaks of the Lord our God, and again in verses 13, 14 and 15. In verse 15 a fuller claim is made; this rebellious people are ‘Thy people’. In verse 16 the desolate city is ‘Thy city’, ‘Thy holy mountain’; and ‘Thy people are become reproach’. In verse 17, Daniel is ‘Thy servant’, and the desolate temple ‘Thy sanctuary’. Then it all comes pouring forth. Reverse is abandoned. Before this covenant-keeping God, Daniel pours out his petition:

  • ‘O my God, incline Thine ear, and hear; open Thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy Name: for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousness, but for Thy mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, hearken and do; defer not, for Thine own sake, O my God: for Thy city and Thy people are called by Thy Name‘ (Dan. 9:18,19).

The limits of such a work as this Analysis compel us to omit much of spiritual value, and so refraining from further comment on Daniel’s prayer, we turn our attention to:

The Principle of Computing Prophetic Times

How many different ways of computing the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 have been put forward by earnest men of God? We do not know, but there are many; and the fact that such diversity exists must humble us before the Lord. Differences of opinion exist as to where the reckoning begins, where the reckoning ends, wether the ‘weeks’ are weeks of days or of years, and whether the prince that shall come be Titus (A.D. 70) or the beast of the Apocalypse. Most affirm that there is now only the last week of Daniel 9 to be fulfilled; while others believe that the seventy weeks are literal weeks of days all yet future. Facing this monument of human failure and contradiction it seems at first an act of impertinence on our part to step forward and make even a tentative suggestion. Yet it is impossible avoid the subject, and, therefore, with every recognition of the faithfulness and ability of others, we humble place on record the way in which we have been led by scriptural principles to a conclusion in the matter.

The first principle that demands recognition is that which deals with the ‘lo-ammi‘ periods of Israël’s history. For the benefit of those who may not know the meaning of this term we state that is has reference to Hosea 1:9 ‘Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people’. The principle we have in mind is that those periods when Israël are out of favour — and so ‘lo-ammi‘ — are not reckoned in the prophetic calendar. So far as God’s scheme of time is concerned, such periods do not exists. They are, however, reckoned in the calendar of the world, and consequently must be taken into account.

There were five occasions when the Lord ‘sold’ His people into the hands of their enemies, and for these five periods the prophetic clock stopped and time was unrecorded. These periods are all found in the book of Judges:

  1. MESOPOTAMIA 8 years Lo-ammi (3:8).
  2. MOAB 18 years Lo-ammi (3:14)
  3. CANAAN 20 years Lo-ammi (4:3).
  4. MIDIAN 7 years Lo-ammi (6:1).
  5. PHILISTINE 40 years Lo-ammi (13:1)
  • Total 93 years

Of course no time can be reckoned ‘lo-ammi‘ that is not concerned with the whole nation; raids and bondage that affected only some of the tribes are not included. See article LOAMMI.

The first principle, therefore, that we must observe when computing prophetic periods is that which allows for the non-reckoning of ‘lo-ammi‘ periods. This applies in both directions; we cannot allow a period of time to be excluded while Israël is a nation before God, any more than we can allow a period to be reckoned when Israël is temporarily set aside. This we shall finds compels us to include the Acts of the Apostles in the seventy weeks, and also compels us to exclude the period when Jerusalem was still unbuilt in Nehemiah’s day.

The Seventy Weeks

  • ‘Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city’ (Dan. 9:24).

If we understand the word ‘week’ to mean seven days, we have a period of a little more than one year and four months to consider, and of this a smaller period is occupied in building and restoring Jerusalem, certainly a short time for such an operation. When, however, Daniel wishes to make us understand literal weeks, each of seven days, he adds the word ‘days’:

  • ‘I Daniel was mourning three full weeks’ (literally, weeks of days’) (10:2).
  • ‘Till three whole weeks were fulfilled’ (literally, weeks of days) (10:3).

To make the matter certain, the angelic visitor declares that on the first day of Daniel’s fasting his words had been heard and the angel sent, but that for ‘one and twenty days’ he had been withstood. This carefulness on Daniel’s part is one argument in favour of the view that ordinary weeks of days are not intended in Daniel 9. A further argument is that Daniel had been occupied with prophecies that dealt with a period of seventy years, and the angelic announcement of the seventy weeks seems but an expansion.

Another argument in favour of the years interpretation is provided by the Scriptural treatment of the last week. It wilt be observed that this last of the seventy weeks is divided into two parts:

  • ‘He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease’ (Dan. 9:27).

Now Daniel refers more than once to a peculiar period at the time of the end:

  • ‘A time and times and the dividing of time (7:25).
  • ‘A time, times, and a half’ (12:7).
  • ‘Let seven times pass over him’ (4:16).

A consultation of the margin of Daniel 11:13 will show that ‘times’ may be synonymous with ‘years’. If that is so, then a time, times and a half may be a prophetic and cryptic way of describing three and a half years. This being just half the seven-year period exactly meets the requirements of Daniel 9:27.

We have, however, clearer evidence in the book of the Revelation:

  • ‘A time, and times, and half a time’ (Rev. 12:14).

This is the period during which the woman is nourished in the wilderness. In Revelation 12:6 we read:

  • ‘They should feed her there 1,260 days’.

It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that 1,260 days, and a time, times, and a half, are periods of the same duration.

There is evidence in Scripture of the recognition of a year of 360 days. For example, it is computed that between the seventeenth day of the second month, and the seventeenth day of the seventh month is 150 days (Genesis 7 and 8), a computation which supposes a month of thirty days. Dividing 1,260 days by 30 we have 42 months, or three and a half years. Now Scripture speaks of a period of 42 months, and places it in such proximity to that of 1,260 days as to remove all doubt as to the length of the prophetic year:

  • ‘The holy city shall they tread under foot 42 months’ (Rev. 11:2).
  • ‘My two witnesses … shall prophesy 1,260 days’ (Rev. 11:3).

We have already seen that Revelation 13 speaks of the time when the fourth beast of Daniel 7 shall be in power; and if Daniel 9 speaks of the same power and period, we may expect to find here some confirmation:

  • ‘He shall confirm the covenant with many for one week (a period of 7 years): and in the midst of the week (after a period 0f 3,5 years, 42 months or 1,260 days) he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease’ (Dan. 9:27).
  • ‘And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue 42 months’ (Rev. 13:5).

That the Hebrew language can refer to ‘sabbaths of years’ is shown in Leviticus 25:8, where a period  of forty-nine years is also called ‘seven sabbaths of years, seven times seven years’.

These things furnish sufficient proof that the final week of Daniel 9 is a period of seven years. And if the last week be a week of years, it follows that the seventy weeks are also weeks of years, so that the seventy weeks ‘determined’ represent a period of 490 years.

When does the period of 490 years commence?

After revealing to Daniel a prophetic period of 490 years marked off on the divine calendar, the angel proceeds to divide the number of years up in a rather strange way. We first learn that during the 490 years the following events are to be fulfilled:

  • ‘To finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness … and to anoint the most Holy’ (Dan. 9:240.

The angel next proceeds to give further light upon this time by saying that the period from the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem to the coming of Messiah the Prince will be 7 weeks and 62 weeks, and that after the 62 weeks have elapsed the Messiah will cut off. We found it useful when speaking of ‘lo-ammi‘ periods to use a simple illustration to make the matter clearer. It may be of service to use the same method here. [Suppose a motorist is being directed to a certain destination and that, instead of being told that his goal is 69 miles away, he is told that it is 7 miles and 62 miles away. If after that somewhat cryptic statement, a remark is added about some feature in the road that marks a junction, the obvious thing for the motorist to do would be to travel the first seven miles and then look for some change. If at the end of 7 miles of rather bad country lane the car emerged into a new, well-made road which continued for the remaining 62 miles, he would realize the reason for dividing the distance. Moreover, if he had been told that at the end of 62 miles he would come to a cross, he would look for it at the end of 62 miles of new road, for so the direction had indicated].

Now it must be obvious that when the angel speaks of 7 weeks as distinct from 62 weeks, he has some special reason for it. The angel also speaks of the building of the wall and the street of Jerusalem as an event related to the time periods with which his message deals. The Companion Bible in Appendix 58 – www.levendwater.org gives the history of Nehemiah and Ezra. It is much too long to quote here, but we give two extracts to prove our point. We must leave our readers to test the matter further by consulting that appendix for themselves.

  • 455 B.C. Nehemiah 1:1-2:8. Hanani’s report in the month of Chisleu leads to the ‘going forth of the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem’ (Dan. 9:25).
  • 454 B.C. By Artaxerxes in his twentieth year.
  • 407 B.C. Nehemiah obtains leave of absence (Neh. 13:6), and returns to be present at …
  • 405 B.C. This ends the ‘seventh sevens‘ from the going forth of the commandment in 454 B.C.

This, then, is the first spaced covered, the building of the wall corresponding to the several miles of bad road in the illustration. We now arrive at the most important feature of our discussion, and one that we have seen canvassed in no other work on Daniel. It follows from the logical application of the ‘lo-ammiprinciple. The question is whether or not the 490 years set apart for the achievement of God’s purpose in Israël, begin at the going forth of the proclamation to rebuild Jerusalem. To this question expositors give an affirmative answer, but the ‘lo-ammi‘ principle demands a negative one. We read in Nehemiah:

  • ‘The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire’ (Neh. 1:3).

Do these expressions describe Jerusalem as in favour or in desolation? There is only one answer. Nehemiah saw in these events the fulfillment of the curse threatened by law and prophets:

  • ‘If ye transgress, I will scatter you abroad among the nations’ (Neh. 1:8).

Daniel also uses terms that imply ‘lo-ammi‘ conditions. Jerusalem is ‘desolate’ (9:2); Israël are ‘driven’ (verse 7); the curse is poured upon them (verse 11); the visitation upon Jerusalem is unprecedented (verse 12). And in verse 16 there is anger and fury and reproach.

The seventy sevens cannot commence until Jerusalem is rebuilt and the curse removed; this makes clear the reason for the division of the years into seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. The seven sevens of 49 years represent the time occupied in the rebuilding of the wall and street of Jerusalem by Nehemiah in time of trouble, and the period ends at the dedication of the temple (Ezra 6:16-18).

To revert to our illustration, the period covered by the building of the wall up to the dedication of the temple corresponds with the first 7 miles of country road. At the dedication of the temple at the end of the seven sevens the ‘lo-ammi‘ period ends; the new high road is reached. It is then a distance of 62 miles to the Cross; or, leaving the illustration, an unbroken period of 62 sevens to the time of ‘the Messiah the Prince’. Those who include the 49 years of rebuilding, include a period when Israël was ‘lo-ammi‘, and they have no alternative to excluding from their reckoning the whole period of the Acts of the Apostles. But it is quite certain that Israël were not set aside as a people until Acts 28, so that the period of the Acts must be included.

Our interpretation has required only 62 sevens; so that there is still scope remaining. From A.D. 29/30 to 63/64, the usual dates now given for the Crucifixion and Acts 28 respectively, is a period of 35 years; this accounts for five sevens. Three sevens, therefore, remain for the future, and these are dealt with in the book of Revelation:

  1. seven seals.
  2. seven trumpets.
  3. seven vials.

The final ‘seven’ is concerned with the Beast, the False Prophet, Antichrist and Babylon, as we read in Daniel 9.

The prophecy of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 is divided into three parts, each of which is devoted to an explanation of events associated with one of the great time-periods of prophecy. This can be seen more easily if set out as follows:

Daniel 9:24-27

A1 9:24. SEVENTY SEVENS. Finish transgression. Make an end (chatham) of sins. Make atonement for iniquity. Bring in everlasting righteousness. Seal up (chatham) vision and prophecy. Anoint the Most Holy.

A2 9:25,26. SEVEN SEVENS and SIXTY-TWO SEVENS. The City. — Restoration. The Messiah. — Coming. c Seven sevens and sixty-two sevens. c After sixty-two sevens. b The Messiah. — Cut off. The City. — destroyed.

A3 9:26,27. THE ONE SEVEN. THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN. Desolation decreed (shamem). End of Desolator. b Covenant made. One seven. — 7 years. Midst of seven. — 3.5 years. b Covenant broken. a Desolation decreed (shamem). End of Desolator.

Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city‘. — The word ‘determined’ means ‘to cut off’, and the passage indicates that God has set apart this period of time in which He will accomplish His purpose for the people and the city. At first there appears to be an undue repetition in the words of verse 24: ‘to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity’. But on examination the verse is found to be both true, like all Scripture, and prophetic.

‘To finish’ is a translation of kala which means ‘to restrain’, or ‘shut up’, as in a prison: ‘Zedekiah … had shut him up’ (Jer. 32:3). As a substantive it is translated ‘prison’ as in 1 Kings 22:27; 2 Kings 17:4 and eight other places. ‘The transgression’ that is to be ‘shut up’ or ‘imprisoned’ has already been spoken of in Daniel. Pesha, ‘transgression’, and pasha, ‘transgressor’ occur in Daniel only in 8:12, 13, 23 and 9:24. To read these occurrences in their contexts is of itself sufficient indication that the period of the last seven of Daniel 9 is the setting, and also what ‘transgression’ is to be ‘imprisoned’:

  • ‘The little horn … magnified himself even to the prince of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the place of his sanctuary was cast down. And an host was given him against the daily sacrifice by reason of transgression … the transgression of desolation … in the latter time of their kingdom, when the transgressors are come to the full’ (Dan. 8:11-13,23).

In Daniel 9 and Matthew 24:15 it is ‘the abomination‘ of desolation’; here it is ‘the transgression of desolation’. This refers to the violation of the temple and its sacrifices, and the desolation, once more, of Jerusalem. The day, however, is fixed when this desolation shall for ever cease, and the Desolater be imprisoned. It does not require great perception to see here a forecast of the incarceration of the Beast, the False Prophet and Satan as revealed in the Apocalypse.

To make an end of sins‘ — The word ‘chatham‘ occurs again in the sentence: ‘to seal up the vision and prophecy’. Job uses the expression: ‘my transgression is sealed up in a bag, and thou sewest up mine iniquity’ (Job 14:17). In Deuteronomy 32:34 the Lord is quoted as saying: ‘Is not this laid up in store with Me, and sealed up among My treasures’, and goes on to speak of the day of vengeance.

In Daniel 12:4 there is a paronomasia, ‘shut up’ being satham, and ‘seal’ being chatham, and this is repeated in verse 9, ‘shut up’ being there ‘close up’. It appears that the sense of ‘sealing’ here is not so much that of confirmation as of ‘closing’ or ‘shutting up’. The one other reference to ‘sealing’ in Daniel is in connection with the den of lions (6:17), and the object of that sealing is given: ‘That the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel’.

To make reconciliation for iniquity‘. Here the word is kaphar, and means ‘to make atonement’. This is vital. This is precious. It belongs to no one section of the redeemed. In spite of what certain words in the English translation may from s superficial reading appear to teach, atonement belongs to both Old and New Testaments. This vital theme is too vast to be dealt with here, but we have devoted some space to it in the series entitled REDEMPTION – www.bereanonline.org

Thus end the first three blessings that are to come. Three more follow as a sequel:

  • ‘To bring in age-abiding righteousness’.
  • ‘To seal up the vision and prophecy’.
  • ‘To anoint the Most Holy’.

Righteousness is to be the characteristic of Jerusalem and her people at the time of the end:

  • ‘Thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city’ (Isa. 1:26).
  • ‘A King shall reign in righteousness’ (Isa. 32:1).
  • ‘For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness’ (Isa. 62:1).

It is not easy to arrive at an understanding of the words, ‘to seal up vision and prophecy’. Some think that their purport may be that vision and prophecy will have finished their work and be no more needed. The statement may mean that God will set His seal to vision and prophecy and all will be fulfilled. Or, as Daniel 12:4 indicates, a sealing up of the prophecies until the time of the end may be foreshadowed. Malachi is called in Rabbinical writings, ‘The Seal of the Prophets’ because, with him, Old Testament prophecy comes to an end. At present, however, we feel it wise to refrain from expressing a decided opinion as to the true interpretation, and we think that our readers will hold with us, that rather than risk the perpetuation of error it is better thus to refrain.

To anoint the Most Holy‘. In Scripture the words translated ‘Most Holy’ are never used of persons, but always of things dedicated to God. They should be rendered ‘Holy of Holies’, and refer to the cleansing of the sanctuary spoken of in Daniel 8:14.

These six items cover the restoration that is to take place, but events of great magnitude occur before the goal is reached — events that revolve around the persons and work of Christ and Antichrist:

  • ‘From the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah (an Anointed One) the Prince shall be 7 x 7 and 62 x 7: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. And after 62 x 7 shall Messiah be cut off, but not for Himself’ (Dan. 9:25,26).

Some of our readers may have noticed that we did not trouble to show that this prophecy was accurately fulfilled. As to this it is common knowledge that the received date for the 20th year of Artaxerxes is 454 B.C., and 62 x 7 or 434 years + 7 x 7 or 49 years after 454 B.C. brings us to A.D. 29/30, the received date for the Crucifixion, but when we faced the involved accounts of Herodotus, Thucydides, Xenophon and others, and the evidence of the Behistun Rock that must be unravelled before 454 B.C. could be arrived at, we felt that little good would be accomplished by the survey, and it is contrary to our principle to accept any testimony without investigation.

Let it be quite clear, however, that we implicitly believe that Daniel 9 is correct; whatever may be proved or fail to be proved from secular history. It would not, for instance, shake our faith in the slightest if some archaeological discovery called for another readjustment of dates; no one, however learned, would be prepared to go into the witness box and declare on oath the exact number of years after Christ this present year called A.D. 1960 really is. From Adam to Christ, chronology is constant in Scripture. Since then God has written no chronology in Scripture, and seeing that the calendar of the period after Christ is so muddled and involved, it is questionable whether God has not intentionally frustrated the attempts at forecasting prophetic dates.

When we are dealing with the statements of Scripture, however, we are on solid ground. The Lord rode into Jerusalem, and was acclaimed by the people as the Son of David, when it was near to Passover, and therefore in the month Nisan (Matt. 21:1-16), which is the same month in which the decree was issued by Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:1). ‘After’ the Messiah was to be cut off. ‘To be cut off’ implies death by violence e.g., ‘neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood’ (Gen. 9:11). The expression is, moreover, in constant use in the law where it is used of the cutting off of an offender from all covenant relations, and of the consequent bearing of his iniquity: ‘That soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him’ (Num. 15:31).

It is most blessedly true that when the Messiah was cut off it was, as the Authorized Version renders it, ‘not for Himself’, but the original of Daniel 9:26 does not justify that translation, for it says, ‘and have nothing’. Instead of a throne, He had a cross. Instead of many diadems, He wore a crown of thorns. Instead of a kingdom, He had a tomb. Of all the glories spoken of by the prophets, ‘He had nothing’! We are thankful for the earlier vision of Daniel 7 which reveals that in God’s own time He should be invested with sovereignty, but that meanwhile iniquity was to rear its head and make its final grasp at worldwide dominion before the end came.

We pause at verse 26 to consider the reference there to ‘The Messiah’, for while most commentators see in this term a reference to Christ, this interpretation has been denied. ‘The Jews of the Talmud age say, that the end of the Messiah was spoken of in the Book of the Chetubim arriving at this place; but how the latter generations turn off such a sence’; see R. Saddras and Rab. Solomon. In like manner, Isaiah 53 is interpreted of Hezekiah or even of the nation Israël, but thank God we have New Testament witness that ‘The Messiah’ Himself is the subject of that prophecy. In the time of our Lord, the name ‘Messiah’ was on the lips of the common people. The ignorant Samaritan woman knew that ‘Messiah cometh’ (John 4:25). Andrew told his brother, ‘we have found the ‘Messiah’, to which John adds for our benefit, ‘which is being interpreted the Christ’ (John. 1:41). Old Simeon expected to be spared long enough to see ‘The Lord’s Christ’ i.e. the Messiah (Luke 2:26), and when the angels announced the birth of the Saviour to the Shepherds, they spoke of Him as ‘Christ the Lord’, i.e. The Messiah (Luke 2:11). When the crowd of common people said, ‘If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly’ they make it clear that the common people as well as the Rabbins themselves used this title with knowledge. The paraphrase of Jonathan uses the title, ‘The Messiah’, in explaining 26  passages of the prophets concerning Him (see Buxtorf Lex. Chald. Col. 1270-2). Others, in order to retain their own theories, have interpreted The Messiah of Daniel 9, of Cyrus, of Xerxes, or Alexander the Great and even of Zedekiah.

One would have felt with Acts 4:25-28, that no child of God believing the Scriptures to be inspired could ever have put forward a teaching that necessitated the denial that Psalm 2:2 referred to Christ! The objection is based upon the fact that inasmuch as ‘The Lord’ of the Old Testament is the Saviour and the Christ of the New, then when we read ‘Against the LORD, and against His Anointed’, the Anointed cannot refer to Christ. But this places the apostles in a queer position. Those who quote Psalm 2 in Acts 4, were endued with miraculous gifts, and ‘with one accord’ they could quote Psalm 2, and comment immediately, ‘For of a truth against Thy holy child Jesus, Whom THOU HAST ANOINTED …’. The combination of ‘The Lord’ and ‘His Anointed’ apparently was no stumbling to them. Old Simeon also had no such problem, for he said without reserve, ‘The Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). If we can possibly allow a mistake to have crept into Luke 2:26 and Acts 4, are we, to be consistent, going to rule out Christ from Psalm 110, in spite of the fact that the Saviour Himself endorsed it? If the Messiah can be ruled out of Psalm 2, because the words occur ‘Against the Lord, and against His Anointed’ what shall we do with Psalm 110:1, ‘The LORD said unto my Lord’, and how shall we react to the Lord’s own question:

  • ‘What think ye of Christ? whose son is He?’ (Matt. 22:42).

Shall we say that the Saviour Himself stood in need of correction? It is good to see that even the Pharisees did not adopt that attitude, and it is a sad thing to find a child of God taking such a line of teaching.

We return to Daniel 9, being convinced that ‘the Messiah’ here, is none other than He Who in fulness of time was born at Bethlehem, at the time indicated in this prophecy. In the text of Daniel 9:26 the Hebrew is ‘inverted’, reading: ‘And the people of the prince, the one that is to come, shall destroy the city and the sanctuary’, the intention being to connect the future prince with the word ‘confirm’ showing that neither Antiochus, Titus nor Christ can be that prince, who finds ‘his end’ in an overflowing destruction. Nowhere does Christ in the New Testament confirm a covenant for ‘a week’ wether or days, weeks of years. The covenant thus confirmed, is that of Antichrist with the Jews. The reference to the abomination of Desolation spoken by Daniel the prophet, in Matthew 24:15, is not exhausted by the destruction of Jerusalem under Titus, for, Daniel speaks of this ‘abomination’ in Daniel 11:31 and in Daniel 12:11, and these, especially the last, take us to the time immediately preceding the coming of Christ. Messiah was ‘cut off’ at the cross, but the prince that shall come, the false Messiah, shall come to his end, when the desolater himself shall be destroyed, as revealed in the Book of the Revelation. The destruction of Jerusalem under Titus in A.D. 70 is not recorded in the New Testament but the prophecy of Matthew 23:38 and 24:1-3 with Luke 21:20 clearly embraces the words of Daniel:

  • ‘The people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary’ (9:26).

The focal point of Daniel 9:27 is the confirmation by this mighty prince, of a league. While the word berith usually refers to the covenants of God, it is used also in a lower sense. The word is used when the ‘league’ between king Asa and Ben-hadad, and the breaking of a ‘league’ between Ben-hadad and Baasha, are spoken of (2 Chron. 16:3). In Isaiah 28:15 it is called a ‘covenant with death and sheol’, and inasmuch as this awful covenant was made as a refuge from a threatened overflowing scourge, we can see that is speaks of the same prophetic period as does in Daniel 9:27. As the apostle Paul has declared, covenant breaking belongs to the time of the end (Rom. 1:31; 2 Tim. 3:3). Apostates shall forsake the holy covenant, and do wickedly against it (Dan. 11:30-32), and deceitful dealings even after a league has been made, are spoken of in Daniel 11:23.

Apparently, the little horn, the final Satanic king, will enter into an agreement with Israël at the opening of Daniel’s last week. At the expiry of 3.5 years he breaks his word, turns round upon the people and their worship, and attempts to blot out all sign and evidence of Israël’s God and worship. What has been going on in Russia (2018) is a faint foreshadowing of his policy:

  • ‘He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate’ (Dan. 9:27).

Al kanaph, ‘overspreading’, means ‘a wing’. Ginsburg, whose authority in matters of the Hebrew text is beyond our ability to confute, suggests that the true reading should be al kanno, ‘in its stead’ as we read in 11:7, where it is translated ‘in his estate’. If this reading be the true one, the passage would read:

  • ‘He shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and IN ITS STEAD shall stand in the holy place (see Matt. 24:15) the abomination that make desolate’.

Scripture uses the word ‘abomination’ for an idol. This blasphemy and wicked opposition lasts no longer than 3,5  years as Revelation 13:5 confirms:

  • ‘Even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate (desolator)’ (Dan. 9:27).

Here is a reference to the future outpouring of the vials of wrath, ending with the consignment of the beast to the burning flame (Dan. 7:11 and Rev. 19:20). With this the prophecy of Daniel ends.

The Seventieth week of Daniel 9:27

  • 3.5 years The covenant made with Antichrist. Period 42 months, 1,260 days or 3.5 years. The first Half.
  • In the midst of the week the covenant broken.
  • 3.5 years The Great Tribulation. The Abomination. The Man of Sin. Time, Times and a half. The Second Half.

Daniel, he certainly did not need any assistance from commentators to add together 7 and 62, yet most commentators IGNORE the fact that the angel said seven weeks AND sixty-two weeks, and put down straight away 69. By so doing the INCLUDE the years of distress during which the wall was in building, and allow no time after the Crucifixion to cover the period of the Acts, even though Israël were still a people before God, and their hope runs from one end of the Acts to the other (Acts 1:6; 28:20).

Two periods of time are in view in Daniel 9:24-26.

  1. The complete period of 70 x 7 years.
  2. The length of time that elapsed between the command to restore and build Jerusalem unto the Messiah.

When the angel resumes, in Daniel 9:26, he omits the 7 weeks of the wall building, and commences his reckoning from the 62 weeks. Now 62 from 70 leaves 8. The Acts of the apostles covers about 35 years or 5 x 7, this leaves 3 x 7 years for the future, and the last of these is the final ‘week’ in the midst of which the anti-christian Dictator will break the covenant made with Israël, and the three and a half years of Tribulation will commence.

We have devoted a fair moment of space to this prophecy because it not only reaches into, and helps to interpret, the Apocalyps, but it demonstrates the extreme importance of recognizing the lo-ammi period of Israël’s history, and where the prophetic clock stops, and where it resumes its timekeeping!

[Zie ook: het artikel ‘Daniel’s Prayer and the Seventy weeks’ – Juni 03 2011]

LO-AMMI – the ‘Not My People’ period

It is demonstrated from Scripture that Israël alone, with one exceptional case, are called ‘People’; the nations of the earth are never so called except in the plural — ‘peoples’. To one nation only has the title ‘My people’ ever been given and that is Israël. The exception is found in Titus 2:14, where the church [eclessia] is spoken of as a peculiar people — but that title is used while Israël themselves are ‘lo-ammi’, not My people. At Acts 28 Israël pass off the scene and the parenthetical dispensation of the Mystery begins.

This great dispensational feature indicated by the words lo-ammi we approach under the following headings:

  1. The testimony of Acts 13 to the lo-ammi period that was approaching.
  2. The Old Testament illustration provided in the book of Judges.
  3. The prophecy of Hosea, where the name lo-ammi occurs.

Acts 13 records the opening of Paul’s great missionary activity. A Jew who withstood the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles is blinded and a Gentile is saved — an anticipation in dramatic fashion of the sequel found in Acts 28, where the nation is blinded and salvation sent to the Gentiles. Acts 13:16-41 is the record of Paul’s witness in the synagogue at Antioch, and it opens and closes with a reference to Israël which involves the recognition of the ‘lo-ammi’ principle. We give a condensed structure of this section:

Acts 13:16-41

A 16-21. Resume of Israël’s History. Lo-ammi period.

B 22-39. David, Salvation, Forgiveness.

A 40,41 Beware. Lo-ammi period threatened.

In order to understand the dispensational importance of Paul’s references to Israël’s history, we must turn for a while to the record given in two parts of the Old Testament, namely the book of Judges and the book of Kings.

Among the many items of dispensational importance in the book of Judges, one question of outstanding interest is the way in which Israël and Israël’s affairs influence the computation of times and dates. The question at first seems simple enough.

FIRST SERVITUDE — MESOPOTAMIA (Judges 3:8) years.

OTHNIEL — REST (Judges 3:11) 40 years.

SECOND SERVITUDE — MOAB (Judges 3:14) 18 years.

EHUD — REST (Judges 3:30) 80 years.

THIRD SERVITUDE — CANAAN (Judges 4:3) 20 years.

DEBORAH AND BARAK — REST (Judges 5:31) 40 years.

FOURTH SERVITUDE — MIDIAN (Judges 6:1) years.

GIDEON — REST (Judges 8:28) 40 years.

TOLA (Judges 10:2) 23 years.

JAIR (Judges 10:3) 22 years.

JEPHTHAH (Judges 12:7) years.

IBZAN (Judges 12:9) 7 years.

ELON (Judges 12:11) 10 years.

ABDON (Judges 12:14) years.

FIFTH SERVITUDE — PHILISTINES (Judges 13:1) 40 years.

TOTAL 369

All one has to do is to add up the periods of the judges’ rule and the intervening years of servitude, and the thing is done. As there is no better way of producing conviction than to try things out for oneself, we have done so with the result shown above.

It will be observed that we have put down all the periods concerned, wether they be period of servitude or of rest.

Turning now to the New Testament, we find that the apostle Paul has something to say about this period, and we therefore turn to Acts 13:16-22, in order to check our total.

WILDERNESS WANDERING (Acts 13:18) 40 years.

PERIOD OF JUDGES (Acts 13:20) 450 years.

SAUL’S REIGN (Acts 13:21) 40 years.

TOTAL 530

Ignoring, for the moment, the years in the wilderness and the reign of Saul, we observe that Paul’s statement regarding the period of the judges differs from our own conclusion by eighty-one years, a difference too great to be covered by the suggestion that the apostle is using round numbers when he says ‘about the space of 450 years’.

There are other checks, however, that we must take into account. Jephthah, who lived at the very period under discussion, tells us (Judges 11:26) that the disputed territory had been held by Israël for 300 years, dating from the end of the forty years’ wandering. Solomon also speaks very definitely about the number of years that intervened between the Exodus from Egypt and the year in which he began to build the Temple of the Lord. He speaks of this year as ‘the 480th year after the children of Israël were come out of the land of Egypt’, and the fourth year of his reign (1 Kings 6:1). If we compare Solomon’s period with that given by Paul in Acts 13, we find a difference of ninety-three years, which, again, is too great to be set aside as of no importance. In order to make this point clearer, we will set out Paul’s  computation again, in conjunction with the period covered by Solomon’s account.

WILDERNESS WANDERING 40 years.

PERIOD OF JUDGES 450 years.

SAUL’s REIGN 40 years.

DAVID’S REIGN (1 Kings 2:11) 40 years.

SOLOMON’S FIRST THREE COMPLETE YEARS (1 Kings 6:1) years.

TOTAL 573

DEDUCT — SOLOMON’S COMPUTATION 480 years.

TOTAL TO ACCOUNT FOR 93

Let us now look back over the list of items given in the chronology of the book of Judges. We observe that there are five periods of servitude, varying in length from seven years to forty. Adding these periods together we have the following:

FIRST SERVITUDE (Judges 3:8) years

SECOND SERVITUDE (Judges 3:14) 18 years

THIRD SERVITUDE (Judges 4:3) 20  years.

FOURTH SERVITUDE (Judges 6:1) years.

FIFTH SERVITUDE (Judges 13:1) 40 years.

TOTAL 93

This is indeed a revelation. The very number of the years of Israël’s servitude is equal to the difference between the accounts of Solomon and Paul. If we look more attentively at Solomon’s statement, we find that he does not say that the total number of years that intervened between the two points was 480, but that ‘in the 480th year’ the Temple was commenced. The number is ordinal (480th), not cardinal (480), showing that while Paul was using the calendar of the world, Solomon was using the calendar of the Lord, and in that calendar no notice is taken of periods when Israël are in bondage. From this emerges a principle. When Israël are lo-ammi, time is not counted prophetically.

We must now review the book of the prophet Hosea, where the prophetic import of the name Lo-ammi is worked out.

Hosea. The restoration of Israël, symbolized and promised

The prophecy of Hosea follows those of Jonah and Amos so fas as chronological order is concerned, but stands at the head of the twelve minor prophets in the Hebrew canon. The name Hosea is the Hebrew word for ‘salvation’ and appears in chapter 1, in the promise:

  • ‘But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will SAVE them by the LORD their God, and will not SAVE them by bow, not by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen’ (Hos. 1:7).

This promise might well be taken as the key promise of the prophecy. The word reappears in the closing section of the prophecy:

  • ‘Thou shall know no god but Me: for there is no SAVIOUR beside Me’ (Hos. 13:4).
  • ‘I will be thy king: where is any other that may SAVE thee in all thy cities?’ (Hos. 13:10).
  • ‘Asshur shall not SAVE us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy’ (Hos. 14:3).

The reader will not fail to observe how this last reference perfectly balances the first, even to the inclusion of the word ‘mercy’. This insistence upon the word ‘salvation’ and ‘save’ suggested by the name of the Prophet, is a feature that is noticeable in another grouping of the prophets in the Hebrew canon.

The term ‘prophet’ covers some books which are historical rather than predictive and opens with the book of Joshua, and closes with the book of the minor prophets considered as one book. The ‘prophets’ therefore of the Hebrew canon open with ‘Joshua’ the Salvation of the Lord, the Captain, and closes with ‘Joshua’ the Salvation of the Lord, the High Priest (Zech. 3). The whole prophetic section of the Old Testament being bounded by the name borne by THE Saviour, for ‘Jesus’ [Jehoshua] is but the Greek spelling of Joshua, as a reference to Acts 7:45 and Hebrews 4:8 will show.

A disquisition on such a theme as ‘the nature of God’ is naturally outside the scope of studies such as this, but none should be able to read the words ‘I will … save them by the LORD their God’ (Hos. 1:7) without being struck by its peculiar phraseology. It is ‘The LORD’ Who is the speaker, verse 4, ‘And the LORD said … I will avenge … I will break … And (God, the word supplied by the A.V.) said … I will no more … I will utterly … I will have mercy &c. and will save’. If the passage had read ‘I will save them by Myself’ it would have been readily understood. It must be remembered that of ‘God’, Absolute and Unconditioned’ we know, and can know nothing. He Himself is greater than all His names, and by His very nature Unnameable. In this verse in Hosea we see, as it were, God Himself, referring to Himself in the realm of the manifest and the conditioned. He is ‘Jehovah THEIR God’, Who in fulness of time became Man and was known as ‘The Man Christ Jesus’.

The opening chapters of Hosea (1 to 3) are chiefly characterized by the fact that the Prophet enacts in his own family life the message that he has to tell, and this is followed by another section (4-14) in which the Prophet, while still using symbol, speaks the message by word of mouth.

  • ‘Go, take unto thee a wife’ (1:2). ‘Go yet, love a woman’ (3:1).

This is ‘the beginning of the word of the Lord BY Hosea’.

  • ‘Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israël’ (4:1).

This is the continuance of the prophecy of Hosea.

The word translated ‘beginning’ is not the same as that found in Genesis 1:1. It is the Hebrew chalal, and is found again in the margin of Hosea 8:10, where the text reads ‘sorrow’. It may appear strange to the casual reader that a word can mean either ‘beginning’ or ‘sorrow’, but the fact is, that the idea of a ‘beginning’ is a derived meaning, the primary idea of chalal being ‘to perforate’, thence by stages ‘to lay open’, ‘to give access and so profane or defile’, and eventually ‘to begin’ in the sense of ‘opening’.

While a verbal connection between the word ‘beginning’ and the subsequent strange episode in the life of the prophet would not be evident to the English reader, Hosea, who was commissioned by God to ‘take a wife of whoredoms’ (Hos. 1:2) would scarcely fail to note the word ‘beginning’ was derived from the word meaning ‘to lay open, profane, defile’, and employed by Moses and other writers for the very pollution and profanation he was called upon to exhibit (Lev. 21:7,9,14; 19:29).

It does not necessarily follow that Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, was an immoral woman. It means that she was of ‘Israël’ as distinct from ‘Judah’, for Israël, that is the Ten Tribes, had become idolaters, having their own sanctuary at Beth-el. We have already learned about the ‘altars of Beth-el’ from the prophet Amos, and Hosea refers to Beth-el in 10:5 and 12:4 in a markedly contrasted manner.

The two marriage contrast into which Hosea entered, are highly significant, and must now be examined.

Hosea’s marriage contracts

A 1:2-. ‘Go take a wife of whoredoms’.

B 1:-2. Meaning, the departure of the land from the LORD.

C 1:3. Hosea takes Gomer.

D 1:4 to 2:23. 1:4-9 The three children. Jezreel ‘I will avenge’. Lo-ruhamah ‘Not … mercy’. c Lo-ammi ‘Not My people’.

Prophetic significance. 1:10 to 2:1. Prophetic import of the three names. 2:2-22. Prophetic fulfillment of the three names.

D 1:4 to 2:23. 2:23. The three children. Jezreel ‘I will sow’. Ruhamah ‘Mercy’. c Ammi ‘My People’.

A 3:1-. ‘Go yet, love … an adulteress’.

B 3:-1. Meaning, Israël who look to other gods.

3:2. Hosea buys her, with the price of a slave.

3:4,5. Prophetic significance. e1 3:4-. Many days. f1 3:-4. Abide … without a king etc. e2 3:5-. Afterward.2 3:-5-. Return … LORD …, and David their king. e3 3:-5. Latter days.

It is evident by this disposition of the subject-matter, that these two marriage contracts entered into by the Prophet were intended to set forth in symbol the relationship of the Lord to Israël, their defection, the long period of their estrangement and their final restoration.

The names of the three children which were born were most certainly given because of their typical meaning. The name of the wife, Gomer, does not appear to have been chosen because of its meaning, but because of its association. Gomer was the name of the northern people, of Japhetic origin (Gen. 10:2). Some believe that from these descended the Cimerii, the ancestors of the Cymry or the Welsh. Israël by their sins and idolatry had put themselves in the position of the far-off Gentiles. The three children of this marriage were named by God’s instruction Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah and Lo-ammi (Hos. 1:4,6 and 9).

Jezreel. First it should be observed that there is in this name a paronomasia between Israël (Yisraël) and Jezreel (Yizraël). Then, it must be remembered that two words similar in sound, provide a further prophetic foreshadowing. The Hebrew word ‘to sow’ is zara, the Hebrew word ‘to scatter’ is zarah, so that the expressions ‘may God sow’ and ‘may God scatter’ appear very similar to the eye and ear in the original. Israël were to be ‘scattered’ among the nations (Lev. 26:33; Jer.31:10), but eventually they were to be ‘sown’ again in their own land (Jer. 31:27). The prophet Zechariah uses the word ‘sow’ with the meaning equivalent to ‘scatter’ (Zech. 10:9). The scattered tribes of Israël were known as ‘the dispersion’ (Ezek. 12:15; Joh. 7:35) and ‘the twelve tribes scattered abroad’ (Jas. 1:1) where the Greek word for ‘seed’ spora enters into the composition of the word diaspora ‘the dispersed or scattered.

In this name, therefore, of Hosea’s firstborn son, the whole of Israël’s history is compressed. They shall be scattered, but they shall at last be gathered. The names of the two children that followed are prophetic of the condition of Israël during this scattering, Lo-ruhamah meaning ‘not having obtained mercy’, L0-ammi meaning ‘not My people’. The ‘Lo-ammi‘ period of Israël’s scattering is of the utmost importance to the right understanding of the dispensational place of the Mystery and the church [ecclesia] of the One Body. Israël became ‘lo-ammi’ at Acts 28:28, when for the first time in history it could be said ‘the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles‘ independently of Israël. In God’s good time, a complete reversal will be made of all the conditions that are now associated with Israël’s blindness, which reversal is the subject of Hosea 2:23 — (1) ‘I will sow‘, Jezreel, the second meaning attached to the Hebrew name; (2) ‘I will have mercy’, removing the negative ‘lo’ from the name Lo-ruhamah; and (3) ‘My people’, removing the negative ‘lo’ from the name Lo-ammi. Great shall be the day of Jezreel when this blessed  reversal takes place (Hos. 1:11).

The second relationship of Hosea is given in chapter 3. The word translated ‘friend’ in Hosea 3:1 is the Hebrew rea, which differs from the word translated ‘evil’ in the vowel points, and is usually translated ra. The LXX translators translate this verse ‘go yet, and love a woman that loves evil things, and an adulteress’. and it is in line with the true for which this symbol stands that these words should refer to the same woman — Gomer — who had acted unfaithfully even as Israël had done. We sincerely hope that by so concluding we have not said evil of an innocent person, and must of course leave the matter to the judgment of the reader, or, better still, to the judgment of ‘that day’.

The woman in view had evidently become seriously involved, for the price paid by Hosea was the price demanded for the liberation of a slave. The symbolism of this new marital transaction is then explained:

  • For the children of Israël shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israël return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days’  (Hos. 3:4,5).

The interval of the ‘many days’ is to be characterized by a mutual ‘abiding’ or ‘waiting’. The woman was to ‘abide’ without further unfaithfulness, the man would abide and wait also. This waiting negative attitude is explaining by the sixfold negation of verse 4. Israël has had no ‘king’ since the days of their captivity. On the other hand, the very scattering among the nations has made it impossible for any foreign prince to rule over them. Since the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Israël have been deprived of the right to offer sacrifice, but since the days of their captivity they have never again fallen under the old spell of idolatry, they have had no priest in the true sense of the word, but neither have they teraphim.

The Bible student needs no explanation of these terms, except perhaps the last, teraphim. This word is variously explained, but always with a consciousness that much to do with its origin and intention is unknown. Dr. J.E. Shelley contributed a suggestive article to the Bible League Quarterly in 1939 in which he speaks of the ‘generations’ which compose the bulk of the book of Genesis, and suggests that these ‘ancestral tablets’ were called teraphim by association with Terah the father of Abraham, and says that ‘certain Jewish legends represent Terah as actually a maker of idols’. The word ‘teraphim’ occurs but six times in the English of the A.V. All the references, apart from Hosea 3, being found in Judges 17 and 18. The word occurs, however, fifteen times altogether in the Old Testament, being translated ‘image’ ‘idolatry’ and ‘idol’. It was the teraphim that Rachel stole and hid (Gen. 31:19-35). It was the teraphim that Michal placed in the bed vacated by David (1 Sam. 19:13,16). In 1 Samuel 15:23, Ezekiel 21:21 and Zechariah 10:2 it will be seen that the teraphim were consulted and associated with witchcraft and divination.

  • ‘When the temple in Jerusalem was burned in A.D. 70 all the genealogical records of Israël’s tribes were utterly destroyed. There is no man among the Jews today who can prove definitely of which tribe he is, by giving his genealogical records’ (Dr. J.E. Shelley).

Israël had long been without a king, when they entered their lo-ammi condition at Acts 28. The last king to go at the destruction of the temple would have been their genealogical records. Since that date Israël has ‘waited’, and must wait until a priest stands up  with Urim and Thummim — in other words, until the lord Himself returns. The words of Hosea 6:1,2 suggest that the period covered by this ‘abiding’ will be ‘two days’, which in the symbolical use of the term may cover the two thousand years that may intervene before their complete restoration. As we have no certain knowledge as to when this period actually started, it is useless to attempt to compute the date of Israël’s restoration, but we can read the signs of the times [1897 – 1967 – 1948 – 2018 … !!].

The return of Israël, with the confession that they will make, constitutes the closing chapter of this prophecy. All is graciously reversed. Instead of being lo-ammi and lo-ruhamah the fatherless find mercy (Hos. 14:3). Their backsliding is healed, and this restored people grow as the lily, have the beauty of the olive, the odour of Lebanon, with their fruit derived alone from the Lord.

Let those who treat the record of Acts 28 with scant concern, think again what the intervening two thousand years would have been like had no parenthetical dispensation come into being.

[By Charles H. Welch – Berean Expositor / London].

THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON

www.bereanonline.org

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www.levendwater.org

Om in het licht te stellen wat de Bediening van het Geheimenis

inhoudt, dat eeuwen her verborgen is gebleven in God, de Schepper

van alle dingen (Efeze 3:9).

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ISRAEL:

www.israeltoday.nl

www.iltv.tv

www.timesofisrael.com

www.israelnationalnews.com

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Nederland/Holland:

www.franklinterhorst.nl

www.cidi.nl

www.wimjongman.nl

www.likud.nl

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DE WEG

www.hadderech.nl

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U.S.A.

Sjabbathviering met Mark Biltz: zaterdags vanaf 19.00 – 21.15 u.

http://www.elshaddaiministries.us

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 15:00
Oct 262018
 

The prophet that follows Jeremiah chronologically is Zephaniah, whose prophecy immediately precedes the Captivity. Something of the state of mind that characterized the people at the time of their end can be gathered, not only from the violence and deceit and prevalence of idolatry, but from such a passage as Zephaniah 1:12, where the Lord threatens to punish those who say ‘The LORD will not do good, neither will He do evil’.

At the end, a promise is given that glances at the root cause of the confusion that has spread over the earth, namely, Babel’s curse, for we read:

  • ‘For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent’ (Zeph. 3:9).

Zephaniah, like most of the prophets, ends on the note of restoration, ‘He will save’, ‘He will rest in His love’, ‘I will gather’, ‘When I turn back your captivity before your eyes’ (3:17-20). God promises Israël that He will get them praise and fame ‘in every land where they have been put to shame’, and because at long last ‘the king of Israël, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee’ the promise stands ‘thou shall not see evil any more’ (3:15). With these comforting thoughts we turn our attention to the next prophecy on our list, the prophecy of Daniel.

Zephaniah uttered his prophecy immediately before the fall of Nineveh, Daniel dates his opening words ‘In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah’, the year which Nebuchadnezzar set out to besiege Jerusalem and take it. Other nations and kings figure in this prophecy, some being named, some being left unnamed, but all are seen as successors and continuers of Gentile dominion over Jerusalem, which city will be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled (Luke 21:24). The prophetic forecast of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream (Dan. 2) covers the whole period of time from the deposition of the kings of Judah, until the setting up of the kingdom under the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Messiah and king of Israël.

The book of Daniel falls into two great corresponding sections:

  1. 1 to 6. The Historic Foreshadowing. Now past.
  2. 7 to 12. The Time of the End. Yet to come.

The following structure will reveal the parallelism sufficiently to justify the thought that what took place in the experience of Daniel himself, was at the same time an anticipation and a guarantee of what is to come at the time of the end.

Daniel

1. Historic Foreshadowing 

A 1,2. Dream. Gentile Dominion. ‘The Lord gave’.

B 3. Fiery furnace. Like Son of God. People, nations and languages.

C 4. Seven Times. Madness.

D 5. Writing (kethab) explained. The hand. Belshazzar’s doom. Darius the Mede.

E 6. Den of lions. Sealed (chatham). HE DELIVERETH.

2. Prophetic Fulfillment

A 7. Dream. The Lord’s dominion. There was ‘given Him’.

7,8. Fiery stream. Like the Son of Man. People, nations, languages.

9. Seventy times seven. Restoration.

10 to 11:1. Writing (kethab) explained. The hand. Beltseshazzar’s strength. Darius the Mede.

11:2 to 12:13. Like a den of lions. Book sealed (chatham). HIS PEOPLE DELIVERED.

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The two key passages of the book are chapter 2, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, and chapter 9, the Seventy Weeks.

Nebuchadnezzar, after being raised to such eminence, quite naturally found this thoughts turning to the future, as Daniel reminded him:

  • ‘As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter‘ (Dan. 2:29).

The God of heaven revealed to Daniel the secret, and trough him made known to Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the later days (2:28). While the successive monarchies of Medo-Persia and of Greece were necessarily a part of the things that should ‘come to pass hereafter’, Daniel makes it clear that by this expression he refers principally to the time of the end:

  • ‘Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it break in pieces the IRON, the BRASS, the CLAY, the SILVER, and the GOLD; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter‘ (Dan. 2:45).

Here the whole image, not its most remote successor nor its last phase, is seen together, and no interpretation that ignores this FACT is worth the paper employed in its publication. ‘The latter days’ and ‘hereafter’ refer particularly to ‘the days of these kings’ (2:44). The same rapid passing over of intermediate events, and the same concentration of the mind upon the ‘end’ is indicated in the opening chapter of the second section, chapter 7, ‘I would know’, said Daniel, ‘the truth of the FOURTH BEAST’ (7:19).

We subdivide our examination of Daniel 9 into three sections:

  1. The prophecy of Jeremiah (1,2).
  2. The prayer of Daniel (3-19).
  3. The principle of computing prophetic times (20-23) and the prophecy of the seventy weeks (24-27).

The prophecy of Jeremiah (1,2)

From Zechariah 1:12 we have proof that the period of Judah’s captivity was seventy years and we learn from Daniel 9:2 that Daniel discovered, by reading the prophecy of Jeremiah, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. One passage which Daniel would have pondered is found in Jeremiah 29:1-10:

  • ‘After seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform My good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place’ (Jer. 29:10).

Daniel could not but be greatly moved, moreover, to read such a forecast as that of Jeremiah 27:7:

  • ‘And all nations shall serve him (Nebuchadnezzar), and his son, and his son’s son (Belshazzar), until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him’.

Daniel’s prayer (3-19)

Daniel’s prayer concerning the restoration of Jerusalem is dated in the first year of the king under whose edict that restoration was commenced:

  • ‘In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans’ (Dan. 9:1).

It would take us too far afield to attempt to prove that ‘Darius’ of Daniel 9:1 and ‘Cyrus’ of Daniel 10:1 are the same person, or that Ahasuerus, like Pharaoh, is not used exclusively of any one monarch, but is an appellative, meaning ‘venerable king’.

Daniel’s prayer acknowledges that the terrible desolations that befell Jerusalem were the consequence of Israël’s rebellion against the Word of God, sent by Him through His prophets. The faithfulness of God to the word of His judgment is made an argument by Daniel, that He will as surely be faithful to His word of promise. While Daniel was thus praying, the angel Gabriel came and revealed to him the great prophetic period of the ‘seventy sevens’. This prophecy of the seventy weeks is divided into three parts:

The Principle of Computing Prophetic Times (20-23)

  1. 9:24. THE SEVENTY SEVENS.
  2. 25,26. THE SEVEN SEVENS AND THE SIXTY AND TWO SEVENS.
  3. 26,27. THE ONE SEVEN AND THE MIDST OF THE SEVEN.

A ‘week’ to the English reader is a period of seven days, and the Hebrew word so translated is shabua. Where a week of days is intended, this word is used as a masculine plural (Exod. 34:22 and nine other passages), but were it means a period of years it is used in the feminine plural (Dan. 9:24,25,26), except those passages which add the explanatory words ‘days’ (see A.V. margin of Dan. 10:2,3). The ‘one seven’ of Daniel 9:26,27 is divided into two parts, and this corresponds with the three years and a half, the forty and two months, the 1,260 days, the time, times and a half, of the references to this same prophetic period found in the book of Revelation.

Daniel had been praying concerning the seventy years. The angel came to direct his mind to a further period, that 0f 70 x 7 years.

That the Hebrew can use the work ‘week’ or ‘sabbath’, where we today would use ‘seven’, a passage in Leviticus will show, for in the eighth verse of chapter 25, ‘seven sabbaths of years’ is defined as a period of ‘seven times seven years’.

The Seven Sevens and the Sixty and Two Sevens

The angel interpreter divides this great period of 490 years into three parts:

  1. 7 x 7 of 49 years which starts from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem.
  2. 62 x 7, or 434 years, which starts with the completion of the wall and runs on until the crucifixion of Christ.
  3. The one 7, the final ‘week’ (Dan. 9:27), which is the great period covered by the book of the Revelation.

If these numbers be added together we have 490 years. But, during the first 49 of 7 x 7 of these years, Israël were still outside of Divine favour. Nehemiah said of the times:

  • ‘The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire’ (1:3).

This ‘lo-ammi‘ condition did not change until the wall of the city had been rebuilt. This brings us to the second set of weeks, the 62 x 7, or 434 years, which leads us from the finishing of the wall to the crucifixion of Christ A.D. 29/30.

  • 455 B.C. = Nehemiah 1:1 to 2:8. ‘The going forth of the commandment’.
  • 454 B.C. = The twentieth year of Artaxerxes.
  • 407 B.C. = Nehemiah obtains leave of absence (Neh. 13:6).
  • 405 B.C. = The dedication of the temple.
  • 405 B.C. = ends the 49 years of Daniel 9, and commences the 62 x 7 of the same prediction.

This means that we have the period of the Acts of the Apostles covered by the angel’s prophecy, and so we do no violence to truth by not cutting Israël off until Acts 28 is reached. There remain, therefore, three sevens of years to be fulfilled, the last of which is the subject of so much intense teaching in the book of Revelation. It is suggestive that there are three outstanding sevens in the Apocalypse, the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven vials, which bring the prophecy to its close!

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THE TIMES OF THE GENTILES, AND THE TREADING DOWN OF JERUSALEM

Let us first of all examine the term, ‘the treading down of Jerusalem’. The prophecy of the Second Coming is given in Matthew 24 and Luke 21. Luke’s account adds a reference to the times of the Gentiles, a feature that the study of Luke’s gospel leads us to expect. One peculiar and outstanding character is given, the relationship that exists between the length of time allotted to Gentile dominion, and the treading down of Jerusalem by the selfsame Gentiles.

  • ‘And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’ (Luke 21:24).

Immediately following these words, we are projected into the day of the Lord:

  • ‘And there shall be signs in the sun, and the moon, and in the stars; and upon earth distress of nations, with perplexity … the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And THEN shall they see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory’ (Luke 21:25-27).

If the words ‘treading down’ accurately translate Luke’s intention, then there is proof that the times of the Gentiles coincide with the subjugation of Jerusalem, that both run together into the Coming of the Lord and the setting up of the Millennium kingdom, with no possible room for a period of blessing upon or through Israël until Israël is delivered. Jerusalem cannot be at the same time ‘trodden down’ and a centre of light and peace. We claim no ability to convince any who can believe two contradictory statements. We must and do leave them in the hands of God.

Where Luke 21 emphasizes the relationship of subjected Jerusalem to the times of the Gentiles, Matthew gives another yet parallel evidence:

  • ‘When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, STAND IN THE HOLY PLACE … flee’ (Matt. 24:15,16).

Matthew concentrates on the desecration of the holy place, Luke concentrates on the desecration of the city. Matthew takes us to the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy, and the end of Gentile dominion, Luke points to the parallel subjugation of the city of Jerusalem. There is no discrepancy, both accounts meet at the same point.

We now turn our attention to the term, ‘trodden down’, for if this should turn out to be an expression that means blessing, then we must accept to consequences. The Greek word so translated is pateo, and if we bow to the choice of words ‘which the Holy Ghost speaketh’, the matter will be at an end.

Pateo

  1. Luke 10:19 ‘Power to TREAD on serpents and scorpions‘.
  2. Luke 21:24 ‘Jerusalem shall be TRODDEN DOWN‘.
  3. Rev. 11:2 ‘The holy city shall they TREAD UNDER foot‘.
  4. Rev. 14:20 ‘The winepress was TRODDEN‘.
  5. Rev. 19:15 ‘He TREADETH the winepress … wrath‘.

This testimony of usage admits of no debate. It has been argued, that inasmuch as Rome did not cover the same territory as that ruled over by Nebuchadnezzar, it cannot be considered as a legitimate successor, but this argument is self-destructive and invalid. First: Nebuchadnezzar was told that the kingdom that succeeded after him would be ‘inferior’  but this inferiority in no wise invalidated succession. Secondly: There is all the difference in the world between the dominion that God GAVE to Nebuchadnezzar, and what he actually ruled over, for if that be the criterion, Nebuchadnezzar himself would be ruled out, which is not only absurd, but contrary to truth (Dan. 2:38). Thirdly: The dominion given to Nebuchadnezzar is specified in Daniel 2;38, and reads:

  • ‘And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beast of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all’.

Neither Nebuchadnezzar nor any of his successors exercised this authority. Rome exercised dominion over tracts of earth that in all probability Nebuchadnezzar never heard so, so that if extent of territory be the standard, we could as well say that Rome has more right to a place than Babylon, which is absurd. Fourthly: At the time of the end GLOBAL war and dominion may well characterize Nebuchadnezzar’s last successor. The hint that Nebuchadnezzar came in the line of Adam and Noah opens up a vista of prophetic truth that we cannot pursue here, except that when Israël succeeds to the throne and Jerusalem is a praise in the earth, Paradise will, then and not till then, be restored. When the treading down of Jerusalem ends, then, and only then, will the words of Isaiah 60 become possible:

  • ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee … the Gentiles shall come to thy light … the sons of strangers shall build up thy walls … thy gates shall be open continually … the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish … they shall call thee, The city of the LORD … and the DAYS OF THY MOURNING SHALL BE ENDED’ (Isa. 60:1,3,10-12,14,20).

The treading down of Jerusalem continues right up to the Second coming of Christ. The moment the Stone strikes the feet of the Gentile colossus, ‘the kingdoms of this world’ will become the kingdom of our Lord, and of His Christ, when, ‘He shall reign for ever and ever’ (Rev. 11:15).

Jerusalem is the key to much prophetic truth!!

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IMAGE OF DANIEL 2

Just as Genesis 3:15 contains all prophecy in embryo, so the Image of Daniel 2 covers all Gentile dominion, from the appointment of Nebuchadnezzar until the ten toes symbolizing the the kings in the final stage of Gentile dominion is reached, when without a moment’s interval, the Stone cut out without hands strikes the feet of the image with utter destruction, fills the whole earth, and is set up by the God of heaven as a kingdom which shall never be destroyed. We believe that all prophecy, which is future to Daniel 2 must fit into the overall pattern foreshadowed by the Image therein depicted and interpreted.

If there be periods of blessing to this earth either with or without Israël as a factor before the Millennial kingdom (which immediately follows the striking of the feet of the image), we must find a place for it indicated by the sure word of prophecy. To substantiate this idea, we would draw attention to Luke 21:24 where the ‘times of the Gentiles’ coincide with the ‘treading down’ of Jerusalem by the Gentiles. This passage as it stands is fatal to any idea of a pre-Millennial kingdom in which an enlightened Israël has a central place, for a people cannot be trodden down and at the same time function as a kingdom of priests, there is no place for a regathering of Israël and a time of blessing and illumination that will last for years, followed by a fresh dispersal and another gathering at the time of the end. The image is seen as a whole when the stone strikes the feet.

The translation ‘treading down’ has been questioned, and a much more modified idea substituted. We have discussed this, and provided a concordance of the Greek word so translated in Millennial studies … ‘TREADING DOWN OF JERUSALEM’.

Coming to Daniel 2, we observe that at verse 4, the language in which the prophecy is written changes from Hebrew to Syriac (Aramaic), the language of the Gentiles. The words ‘in Syriac’ mark the place where the language changes and Hebrew is not resumed until the opening of chapter 8. This of itself shows that during these visions, the Gentile is prominent. Before going into detail it may be well to consider one or two interpretations that have been put forward, so that the way may be cleared, and our study pursued unhindered.

  1. Four kingdoms. — One school of interpretation speaks of the image as representing four kingdoms only — Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome. The legs represent the two divisions of the Roman Empire, the eastern and western, and the ten toes, the kingdom into which it will finally be divided, thus making Rome’s dominion, either in its full power or in its divided form, cover the whole period from before Christ to the present time, and necessitating a revival of the ancient Rome at the time of the end. Some who endorse this view believe Rome to be the Babylon of the Apocalypse, whilst others still believe that literal Babylon will be rebuilt.
  2. The fourth kingdom regarded as Satanic. — Another view of the purport of the vision does not include Rome at all. This view is that Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece followed one another, but that by the time the Lord was here upon earth, the devil could claim that the kingdoms of the world had been delivered unto him (Luke 4:6). Moreover, another objection to Rome having a place in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision is said to be the fact that she never really had possession of Babylon itself. We would add, however, that this is not strictly true.

These two points of view are maintained with some recognition of the principles of prophetic interpretation. There are other views, but they are too far removed from the way of truth to justify space for consideration here.

We do not propose analysing the two methods of interpretation mentioned above, but shall proceed at once to definite exposition, and where such exposition causes us to depart from the views expressed in these interpretations, we shall make any necessary criticism. All that we would say here is that we believe neither to be correct.

The latter days

To quote the verses that record both the vision and the interpretation would occupy more space than we can afford, but we trust that the reader will not be satisfied to read these notes without personal reference to the Scriptures themselves. Keep the Book open.

From the urgency with which he demanded the interpretation, and the extreme measures he adopted to punish inability to comply with that demand, it is clear that Nebuchadnezzar considered the vision to be of supreme importance. It is blessed to see Daniel and his friends confidently laying the matter before ‘the God of heaven’, and to read the gracious answers given.

After a passing reference to the utter failure of the wise men of Babylon to help the king, Daniel said:

  • ‘But there is a God in heaven that revealeth secrets, and maketh known to the king Nebuchadnezzar what shall be in the latter days‘ (Dan. 2:28).

Evidently the king himself had been seriously thinking about the future of the dominion committed to him, for Daniel continues:

  • ‘As for thee, O king, thy thoughts came into thy mind upon thy bed, what should come to pass hereafter‘ (Dan. 2:29).

Now while, in one sense, the succession of Medo-Persia to the dominion was something that should come to pass ‘hereafter’, as also was that of Greece, these successive monarchies are, nevertheless, not in mind, except as steps leading to the goal. In 2:45 Daniel becomes more explicit:

  • ‘Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter‘.

‘The latter days’ and ‘hereafter’ have particular reference to ‘the days of these kings’ of verse 44, when the stone shatters the image and the kingdom of the Lord is set up.

When we come to study chapter 7, we shall find the same concentration on the ‘end’ and a rapid passing over of the steps leading to that end, as witness the words: ‘I would know the truth of the fourth  beast’ (7:19).

The student should be informed as to occurrences of these expressions, ‘latter days’ and ‘hereafter’ in the book of Daniel, and we therefore give them and the other renderings were the same words occur in the original.

Hereafter 

  • ‘What should come to pass hereafter (2:29).
  • ‘What shall come to pass hereafter‘ (2:45).
  • ‘Another shall arise after them’ (7:24).

Latter Days

  • ‘What shall be in the latter days’ (2:28).
  • ‘What shall be in the last end of the indignation’ (8:19).
  • In the latter time of their kingdom’ (8:23).
  • ‘What shall befall the people in the latter days‘ (10:14).
  • ‘What shall be the end of these things? (12:8).

Daniel stood at the end of a long line of prophets, and the expression ‘latter days’ and ‘last days’ had by then a very clear meaning. Their use can be studied in Genesis 49:1; Numbers 24:14; Deuteronomy 4:30; 8:16; 31:29; 32:20,29; Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1; and other passages.

Gentile Dominion

The succeeding kingdoms symbolized in the great image of Daniel 2 show a marked depreciation. Gold gives place to silver, silver to brass (or copper), brass to iron, iron to clay. Because we are fare more likely to have handled a solid piece of lead than a bar of gold, many of us would place lead as the heaviest of metals. This however, would be inaccurate, the specific gravity of lead being 11.4, whereas that of gold is as high as 19.3. Gold is the heaviest metal mentioned in Daniel 2 and it is of this metal that the head is constructed, so that the image of Gentile dominion is top-heavy from the commencement. This can be seen by observing the relative specific gravity of each material:

  • Gold … … 19.3
  • Silver … … 10.51
  • Brass … … 8.5 (Copper 8.78)
  • Iron … … 7.6
  • Clay … … 1.9

The arrangement of these metals in the structure of the image indicates depreciation not only in weight, but also in the characteristics of the kingdom. The kingdom of which Nebuchadnezzar was the head of gold was an absolute monarchy. Of him it could be said, ‘whom he would he slew; and whom he would he kept alive’. The Medo-Persian kingdom, represented by silver, was not absolute, as was Nebuchadnezzar’s. Darius was limited by the president and princes, and by his own laws ‘that could not be broken’. The Grecian kingdom of brass was a military kingdom, and consequently lower still in the scale. We will not here speak of Rome, as we have not yet dealt with the question of the fourth kingdom. We see enough, however, to realize that this prophetic image prevents us from ever believing that the kingdom of heaven will come upon earth as a result of Gentile rule; rather we are clearly told that Gentile rule must be ground to powder before the Kingdom of the Lord can be set up.

Principles of Interpretation 

Let us now seek the key to the understanding of the unexplained portions of the image. For this we will first examine what is clearly revealed. Babylon was succeeded by Medo-Persia, Medo-Persia by Greece, and Greece by some kingdom unnamed, Babylon passed off the scene, but the kingdom of Persia has remained to this day, and so has Greece. This leads us to our first point. It is not a necessity that the dispossessed kingdom should be either destroyed or absorbed by its successor, and therefore the idea that Rome is still existing in a weakened condition, and that the ten kings at the end must be found in the Roman earth, is on this ground, without foundation. Some other principle is at work and must be discovered.

We have discussed in the -Millennial Studies- the question of the ‘Times of the Gentiles’ and we there show that these were characterized by one essential feature, indicated by the Lord in Luke 21:24: ‘And Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled’. Here is the essential prophetic character of the times of the Gentiles. Babylon dominated Jerusalem, and every power that has succeeded to the control of Jerusalem has taken its place in the image of Daniel 2. Does Rome take its place according to this canon of interpretation? Let us see. Who was it that sent out a decree that all the inhabited earth should be taxed, and so unwittingly compelled the birth of the Lord Jesus to take place at Bethlehem? It was Caesar Augustus (Luke 2:1). Who was exercising dominion over Jerusalem when John the Baptist pointed out the Messiah of Israel? The answer is Tiberius Caesar (Luke 3:1). Who was Governor of Jerusalem, with the power of life and  death, when the Lord Jesus was crucified? Again, it was a Roman, Pontius Pilate (Luke 23). To whom did the Jewish nation pay tribute at this time? To none but Caesar (Luke 23:2). It is, then very evident that the Roman Empire is in line of Gentile succession, and if historians are true and Rome’s sovereignty over the earth lasted for the space of 666 years, we may, in its typical character, find food for further thought.

This brings us to another important point. Believers in the Word of God are as certain that God knew the rise and fall of Rome as that He knew the rise and fall of Babylon or Persia. Why did He not then, definitely name Rome as he had Persia and Greece? For the selfsame reason that in Old Testament prophecy, He veiled the rejection of Christ by Israël, the ensuing long interval between the ‘sufferings’ and the ‘glory’ and the ‘times and the seasons’ of Israel’s restoration (Act 1:6).

The principle is brought out in Matthew 11:14: ‘If ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come’. Now John the Baptist declared most emphatically that he was not Elias (John 1:21). The Lord declared that Elias must first comes and restore all things, as Malachi had already prophesied (Matt. 17:11; Mal. 4:5,6), and that this should herald the great and dreadful day of the Lord. At the birth of John the Baptist is was said of him that he should go before the Lord ‘in spirit and power of Elias’ (Luke 1:17). If Israël had received the King and the kingdom, then Rome would have rapidly developed into the Beast, and Herod was already at hand, a potential antichrist (see Acts 12:20-23). We are not, however, called upon to discuss what might have been, for that leaves God out of the question. What actually took place was foreknown and provided for: Israël rejected their King and postponed their own restoration. In consequence of their folly a dispensation of hitherto unrevealed grace to an election from among the Gentiles was instituted and no dominating power in the line of Gentile dominion could be revealed which would cover this period. Indeed, such would conflict with the fact that, while Israel are not reckoned as God’s people, the prophetic calendar is in abeyance, and the prophetic voice is silent.

Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, however, spans the whole period from his own accession until the Coming of the Lord, and Rome, by its manifest sovereignty over Jerusalem, falls into line with the other powers. Rome’s dominion over Jerusalem, however, has not lasted throughout this long period. We therefore ask what power succeeded Rome in its hold upon Jerusalem? We know that at the time of the Crusades, in which one of our own kings, Richard the First took part, the city of Jerusalem was held by the Mohammedan power, and so, though unnamed, that power succeeded Rome in the line of Gentile dominion.

It has been objected that the Mohammedan power was never a ‘kingdom’ in the same sense as were Babylon, Persia or Greece. This is so, but instead of that fact being against its inclusion, it is rather in favour of it, because from the time of Israël’s rejection, and the revelation of the dispensation of the Mystery, the image of Daniel enters a protracted period of indefinite length and character, and not until the time of the end does the image emerge with any precision. The same feature characterizes Gentile dominion at the present moment. The next development will be tragic in its reality.

Does the Mohammedan power still dominate Jerusalem? No, another change has taken place from the 20th century, in our own days. When General Allenby received the keys of Jerusalem on 9th December, 1917 (Haggai 2:19-20), the dominion passed from the Mohammedan power to the present divided condition of Jerusalem, but indivisible capital of Israël. Let us now see what these events mean, and how far they coincide with the prophetic interpretation of the course of Gentile dominion given by Daniel:

  1. Head of gold. BABYLON (Dan. 2).
  2. Breast of silver. MEDO-PERSIA (Dan. 5:31).
  3. Belly and thighs of brass. GREECE (Dan. 8:21).
  4. Legs of iron. ROME (Luke 2:2).
  5. Feet of iron and clay. TURKEY (A.D. 636 – 1917). — ‘Five are fallen‘ (Rev. 17:10).
  6. Toes of clay. [The decision of UNO in 1949 to place Jerusalem under international control and its inherent ‘indecision’ which has become more and more evident will lead to the final phase, the Ten Kings! … but in 1967, June 7th, Jerusalem restored49 Prophetic years of 7x7x360 days till now, on the day of Yom Kippur of 23th September 2015 (Dan. 9:24-27).
  7. The Stone cut out without hands (Dan. 2:45).

Here we have the whole Gentile dominion represent as being sixfold, stamped with the number of man and of the beast. We stand today at the junction of the feet and the ten toes, which are ten kings, and which, presumably, will arise out of the national turmoil that is growing in the Middle-East. When John wrote the book of the Revelation he was ‘in spirit’ writing from the, then future, Day of the Lord; consequently he could say, ‘five are fallen’, namely, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome and Turkey, and ‘one is’, viz., the dominion of the ten kings. The true seventh is the kingdom of the Lord, but Antichrist, active, true to character, will present himself as the seventh — ‘ the other is not yet come’; he is of the seven, and goeth into perdition’.

Much that is mysterious in these verses is to be understood only in the light of the fact that at the time of the end the human merges into superhuman and the Satanic. Although we have already occupied considerable space in this article, the solemnity of the subject and need for clearness forbids undue brevity, and we shall therefore continue for a little to consider more closely:

The ten toes of the image

The word ‘broken’ in Daniel 2:42 should be ‘brittle’ (‘to shive, shatter’, Young’s Analytical Concordance), and shows that the ‘clay’ is pottery. Pottery of sufficient thickness would stand the weight of the image, but would shiver to pieces at a blow. It is impossible to fuse iron and pottery together in the same way that two metals may be fused, yet when we reach the feet of the Gentile image, metal gives place to pottery. Some radical change is here indicated. The feet are composed of both iron and clay:

  • ‘But they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay’ (Dan. 2:43).

This does not mean that the communist will not mingle with the monarchist or the democrat with the autocrat, as some schools of interpretation suggest, for this same verse in Daniel 2 contains a deeper explanation:

  • ‘They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another’.

‘The seed of men’. Are not communists and kings the seed of men? Are democrats only the seed of men and the ruling classes not? To ask the question is to answer it. Gold is a metal superior to silver, but of like nature. So also silver is superior to brass, brass to iron, yet all are metals. But at the feet of the image the altogether different material used indicates that the ‘they’ of 2:43 and the ‘seed of men’ are beings of two different orders.

Now the Lord revealed that at the time of the end it should be as it was in the days of Noah. Genesis 6 contains enough to enable us to see in the clay feet of the image the revival of the seed of the wicked one. There are two seeds in view, and the book of Revelation makes it clear that at the end demon-possessed rulers under the Satanic Beast and Antichrist will have full, though brief, sway.

In Daniel 2:44 the prophet says: ‘In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom’. In the days of what kings? Any one of the three is historically impossible. What kings reign when the kingdom of the Lord is set up? We find from Daniel 7:24 that the ten kings shall arise at the time of the end. We read in Revelation 17:12:

  • ‘The ten horns which thou sawest are ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast’.

The ten horns of the beast and the ten toes of the image speak of the same ten kings:

  • ‘And as the toes of the feet … in the days of these kings’ (Dan. 2:42-44).

We have said nothing of the seventh feature, the stone cut out without hands. This foreshadows the kingdom of the Lord. As members of the Body of Christ with a calling, hope and inheritance, ‘far above all’, we can, with full heart, pray: Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

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FEET OF CLAY – From gold to clay, a process of deterioration

The English word ‘clay’ is cognate with ‘clog’ and ‘cleave’, and is used of any earth which possesses sufficient ductility when kneaded with water to be fashioned by hand or lathe. The proverbial statement which speaks of an idol having ‘feet of clay’ is evidently borrowed from Daniel 2 and suggests deterioration and disappointment. Clay can be heated a little without becoming permanently hardened, but when burnt, clay acquires a siliceous hardness, and can never be rendered plastic again. The chief use of clay is for the making of pottery, and a potter is a frequent figure in the Scriptures.

We are particularly concerned in this study with the feet of clay of the image of Daniel 2, but it will be of great help if before dealing with that particular use of the figure we become acquainted with the figures of clay and potter in other parts of the Scriptures, for Daniel’s prophecy comes near to the close of the Old Testament. Seven words are employed in the Old Testament which are translated clay.

  • Chomer. This word means primarily ‘to boil’ or ‘ferment’, ‘to be red’ from the idea of boiling, being inflamed; then ‘to swell up’, and so it comes to mean ‘wine’, ‘clay’, ‘cement’ or ‘mortar’, ‘a heap ‘ or ‘a mound’, hence ‘a measure’. It would be beside the point to occupy pages in the pursuit of these ramifications, so we proceed:
  • Chasaph. This is a Chaldee word, and occurs in Daniel 2. It is probably derived from a root word that means ‘to peel’, or ‘to scale’, and so applied to earthenware, sherds, potter’s ware, with special reference to its liability to break.

Tit. This is clay in the form of mud or mire (Psa.. 40:2).

Tin. Chaldee potter’s clay (Dan. 2:41), ‘miry clay’.

Melet. Derived from a word meaning ‘smooth’. Only occurrence is in Jeremiah 43:9.

Ab and Maabeh. From abah, ‘thick’, ‘gross’ (1 Kings 7:46; 2 Chron. 4:17).

Abtit. A combination of two words meaning ‘thick mire’ (Hab. 2:6).

But one word is translated ‘clay’ in the New Testament, namely the Greek pelos. For our present study chomerchasaph and pelos, that is one word each from Hebrew, Chaldee and Greek, is all that we need consider. The first occurrence of chomer is in Genesis 11:3:

  • ‘They had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar’.

This is said of the building of the tower of Babel. The word ‘mortar’ is in some other passages translated ‘clay’. If the book of Job was written before Moses penned the book of Genesis then, while the references to clay in Job were not written before the actual building of Babel, they will represent to us the earliest references in writing to this word. Chomer occurs seven times in Job (4:19; 10:9; 13:12; 27:16; 30:19; 33:6; 38:14). Of these, four references speak of the frailty of human nature, ‘them that dwell in houses of clay, whose foundation is in the dust, which are crushed before the moth’. The three references that speak of clay in other connections are Job 27:16; 30:19 and 38:14.

  • ‘Though he heap up silver as the dust, and prepare raiment as the clay’ (Job 27:16).

There is something incongruous about ‘raiment’ being likened to ‘clay’. The metrical version found in The Companion Bible reads:

  • ‘Though silver, like the dust, he heapeth up, And garments, made in number like the sand’.

We have already drawn the reader’s attention to the fact that chomer is sometimes translated homer, ‘a measure’ (Isa. 5:10), and so in this passage of Job clay as clay is not in view, but, as Carey comments:

  • ‘As chomer signifies also a mound, the idea may be intended here, and will correspond well, with the heaping up in the previous clause. Our Lord evidently alludes to the Eastern practice of hoarding up enormous stores of raiment (Matt. 6:19). It was amongst other things, the sight of a goodly Babylonish garment that ensnared Achan (Josh. 7:21)’.

‘He hath cast me into the mire’. The truer translation would be ‘He hath cast me down to the mire’, i.e. He has reduced me to the level of the mire of the streets.

‘It is turned (haphak) as clay to the seal; and they stand as a garment’. There are but three other passages where this verb ‘to turn’ occurs in this particular form, namely in Genesis 3:24, Job 37:12 and Judges 7:13, and its consistent meaning is ‘to go on turning itself’, to go round and round’. The British Museum contains a splendid collection of cylindrical seals, which when rolled over wax or clay causes the figures engraved on it to stand out in relief, and this, said God, is what happens as the earth rolls into sunlight, mountain and valley stand out in bold relief. These preliminary notes have but cleared the way for the more specific references to Israël and to the final phase of Gentile dominion. The first passage to which we would draw attention is in the book of Lamentations:

  • ‘The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!’ (Lam. 4:2)’

The book of Lamentations is perhaps one of the most neglected portions of the Old Testament and at first sight contains little to attract the reader. Yet upon the construction of this book there has been lavished sufficient care to ensure that each chapter shall be written in the form of an acrostic. Chapter 1 has twenty-two verses, and each line begins with a letter of the Hebrew alphabet in correct order. This is true also of chapters 2 and 4. Chapter 5, while containing the same number of verses, namely twenty-two, and commencing with the same acrostic features, breaks down apparently before the flow of the prophet’s grief. Chapter 3 contains sixty-six verses, and the acrostic is in a series of triads, verses 1, 2 and 3 commencing with aleph, 4,5 and 6 with beth, and so on. The book consists of five elegies on the destruction of Jerusalem, which in their turn have prophetic foreshadowings.

The opening verse sets the key to the book: ‘How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! how is she become as a widow! she that was great among the nations, and princess among the provinces, how is she become tributary!’ (Lam. 1:1). Here we have deterioration set forth in a series of figures. Solitary instead of full, widow that was once happily married, a princess that now pays tribute. The opening of chapter 2 follows much the same pattern, ‘thy breach is great like the sea; who can heal thee?’ (2:13). Chapter 3 focusses attention on the prophet himself, who represents the nation, and there we have the words ‘the wormwood and the gall’ (3:9). Chapter 4 returns to the theme opened in chapters 1 and 2, ‘How is the gold become dim! how is the most fine gold changed! … the precious sons of Zion, comparable with fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!’ (4:12).

Let us examine the record of deterioration a little more closely.

Dim. The two other occurrences of this verb amam are Ezekiel 28:3 and 31:8, where it is translated ‘hide’. The transition from the idea of ‘hidden’ to being ‘dim’ is seen in the bridge word ‘obscured’. The glory of Israël had departed, it was ‘obscured’. The Hebrew reader, fully cognizant with his own tongue, would be conscious of the fact that the word amam was but a duplicated form of am, a word that means ‘people’, and would enable the reader to see that the obscuring of Israël’s distinctive glory was largely associated with their failure to remain a separate people.

In the days of Samuel, they had expressed their desire to become like the surrounding nations, and had demanded a king, and at that demand, their gold had commenced to become dim, until in the days of Jeremiah the ‘princess’ now paid ‘tribute’. Am had become amam.

Changed. This word occurs in its Chaldee form twenty-one times, of which number, nineteen occur in the book of Daniel. It is used in Daniel 7:7,23,24 of the final phase of Gentile rule which will be ‘diverse’ from all that has gone before it. So Israël ‘changed’. From a peculiar people they became like the nations; they are even charged by Ezekiel of such outrageous conduct that they made their ‘beauty’ to be ‘abhorred’.

  • ‘As I live, saith the Lord GOD, Sodom thy sister hath not done, she nor her daughters, as thou hast done, thou and thy daughters … neither hath Samaria committed half of thy sins’ (Ezek. 16:48-51).

No wonder Jeremiah exclaimed ‘How is the most fine gold change!’ The sons of Zion who had undergone this change are called ‘precious’, a word used in many passages of ‘precious’ or of ‘costly’ stones. These precious sons of Zion were comparable to fine gold, but they had so far fallen as to be esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of a potter. An ‘earthen vessel’ is a symbol of lowliness, wether by reason of true humility (2 Cor. 4:7) or of inferiority (2 Tim. 2:20). This word ‘earthen’, Hebrew cheres, is not only translated ‘earthen’ but ‘potsherd’ (Job 2:8), and ‘sherd’ (Isa. 30:14), and so indicates something of very little value. We must devote an article to the lessons that are taught by the ‘potter’ and will here just sum up as far as we have arrived in this study of the typical meaning of ‘clay’ when used of either Israël or the Gentiles.

We place together the two instruments of world government employed by God during the ages, namely Israël, and the Gentiles commencing with Nebuchadnezzar. Israël, at the beginning (and looked at from the standpoint of the Divine purpose) was comparable to fine gold. Upon the failure of the chosen people, universal sovereignty was transferred to Nebuchadnezzar. He too was set forth in the image, as the head of gold (Dan. 2:38). The kingdom that was to succeed Babylon was that of the Medes and Persians, which, says Daniel 2:39, shall be ‘inferior’. Now the Chaldee word ara translated ‘inferior’ occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament and in every other occurrence it is translated ‘earth’, even in Daniel 2:39:

  • ‘And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior (ara) to thee, and another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth (ara)’.

In the form arith the word occurs once again as ‘the bottom’ in Daniel 6:24. In Ephesians 4:9, where the Authorized Version reads ‘He descended first into the lower parts of the earth’, we should translate ‘the lower parts, that is to say, the earth’, the genitive being that of apposition. The tendency of Gentile rule over the earth would be earthward, it would never become ‘the kingdom of heaven’; it would deteriorate even as Israël had. It would commence with gold, but it would end with clay. Before we turn to Daniel 2 to examine the dream and its interpretation, we have one or two matters to occupy our attention. The one immediately before us being the references in the Old Testament to the potter.

The vessel ‘marred’ in the potter’s hand

We left our examination of Lamentations 4:2 with the reference to the potter. There is no such word for ‘pot’ in the formation of the Hebrew word yatsar, the word translated ‘potter’ seventeen times in the Old Testament. The word means ‘to form’ or ‘to fashion’, ‘to purpose’ or ‘to make’, and that both in the material and in the mental realm:

  • ‘And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground’ (Gen. 2:7).
  • ‘His hands formed the dry land’ (Psa. 95:5).

The word can mean ‘to fashion’ as with hammers (Isa. 44:12); ‘to purpose’ (Isa. 46:11) or ‘to make’ summer and winter (Psa. 74:17), or to form ‘the spirit’ of man (Zech. 12:1). The word first appears with specific reference to a potter in 2 Sam. 17:28, where it is translated ‘earthen’ (lit. vessels of the potter).

The writer of Lamentations, who spoke so feelingly about the deterioration of Israël  , who were originally comparable to fine gold, but had become as potter’s vessels, had already recorded two parabolic references to the work of a potter in his prophecy. In Jeremiah chapter 18, he brings before us the potter with his wheel, and in chapter 19 he is bidden to take a potter’s bottle or pitcher with which to give a further demonstration of the purpose of the Lord. Jeremiah is commanded to go down to the potter’s house, and there he would hear, and understand, the word of the Lord. He went and saw the potter working at his wheel, and, as he watched, the vessel was marred in the hand of the potter. He further observed that the potter made it again another vessel, as it seemed good to the potter to make it.

There is a great danger when dealing with types and symbols, that we shall fail to think of the spiritual equivalent or the intended lesson and be preoccupied with the details of the type or parable. It is most blessedly true, that in place of the old covenant there will be brought in the new, in place of the old creation there will be the new, but to say that the Lord never mends what man has marred, would lead, if taken to its logical conclusion to a denial of redemption itself. Over and over again the Lord employs the figure of healing of the state of Israël; in Matthew 9:16 the Lord actually uses the figure of mending a piece of torn cloth, employing the most glorious word pleroma to illustrate His meaning. Then what are we to understand by such words as restore, reconcile and the like? and if actions are to be interpreted as signs of doctrinal truth, it is surely significant that after the Lord had called unto Him two fishers who were at the moment of their call ‘casting’ a net into the sea, He called two other fishers, who were ‘mending’ their nets (Matt. 4:18-21). Had the potter discarded the clay that was ‘marred’ and taken another lump, there would have been some warrant for saying God never mends what man has marred, but the potter does not discard the clay, he makes another vessel of the same lump.

The vessel was ‘marred’ in the hand of the potter. Taking this statement entirely by itself it would be extremely difficult to avoid putting the blame upon the ‘Potter’ and so ultimately upon the Lord, yet it is evident from the sequel, that no mistake or bad workmanship can be ascribed to the God of Israël. Our failure to appreciate the point of this symbol is largely because we have not before our mind the book of Jeremiah as a whole, and so we have not the mental preparation that would be ours if the symbol of the marred vessel was immediately related to the previous symbol of the marred linen girdle.

Upon reading Jeremiah 13 to 19 there emerges the following interrelated set of symbols and explanations:

A 13:1-11. The symbol of the MARRED girdle.

B 13:12-14. The symbol of the BOTTLE.

C 13:14. Dashed one against another.

18:1-4. The symbol of the MARRED vessel.

B 19:1-10. The symbol of the BOTTLE.

C 19:11. I will break this people.

The comment in Jeremiah 13 is that the girdle was ‘profitable for nothing’ and that the people, by their refusal to hear the word of the Lord, and by their idolatry, were ‘good for nothing’. By their own faithlessness they were ‘marred’. After this manner, said the Lord, ‘will I mar the pride of Judah, and the great pride of Jerusalem’ (Jer. 13:9). It will be remembered that Jeremiah had been told to do a very strange thing, namely, to hide the linen girdle in the hole of a rock by the Euphrates. This reference to the Euphrates would immediately connect this symbol with Babylon — Israël would be ‘marred’ by their captivity in Babylon. The last reference to the Euphrates is another symbolic action:

  • ‘When thou comest to Babylon, and shalt see, and shalt read all these words; Then shalt thou say, O LORD, Thou hast spoken against this place, to cut it off, that none shall remain in it, neither man nor beast, but that it shall be desolate for ever. And it shall be, when thou hast made and end of reading this book, that thou shalt bind a stone to it, and cast it into the midst of Euphrates: and thou shalt say, Thus shall Babylon sink, and shall not rise from the evil that I will bring upon her: and they shall be weary’ (Jer. 51:61-64).

Israël suffers degradation for a period, but will ultimately be restored  and blessed, but Babylon, and all that its stands for, wil sink, never to rise again. The strange idea of hiding a linen girdle in the hole of a rock, finds an echo in another symbolic act which is recorded in Jeremiah 43. Israël had, contrary to the witness of Jeremiah, made alliance with Egypt, and at Tahpanhes, a fortress in Egypt, Jeremiah once again set forth prophetic truth in symbol. The word translated ‘brick kiln’ in Jeremiah 43:9 is rendered in the Revised Version ‘brickwork’, and ‘brickyard’ by Rotherham. Appendix 87 of The Companion Bible contains a drawing of the fort of Defenneh (Gk. Daphnae, and so Tahpanhes) which shows the large platform before the entry of Pharaoh’s palace. It was in this brickwork platform that Jeremiah hid the great stones:

  • ‘Then came the word of the LORD unto Jeremiah in Tahpanhes, saying, Take great stones in thine hand, and hide them in the clay in the brick pavement, which is at the entry of Pharaoh’s house in Tahpanhes, in the sight of the men of Judah; and say unto them, Thus said the LORD of hosts, the God of Israël; Behold, I will send and take Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and will set his throne upon these stones that I have hid, and he shall spread his royal pavilion over them’ (43:8-10).

Returning to Jeremiah 13 to 19, we observe that in the second symbol borrowed from the potter’s craft, the vessel is now called an earthen bottle, or pitcher, it is no longer ductile clay but burnt earthenware. This bottle is broken by Jeremiah in the valley of the son of Hinnom, called in the New Testament Gehenna, the symbol of ‘Hell’ and called Tophet in chapter 19:6. This reference to Tophet is repeated from chapter 7, were there is appended a doom (verse 34) that will ultimately be pronounced over Babylon (Rev. 18:23), ‘The voice of the bridegroom and of the bride shall be heard no more at all in thee’.

The use of the figure ‘the hole of a rock by the Euphrates’ can be translated into less figurative language if we will read Jeremiah 16:15,16:

  • ‘But, The LORD liveth, that brought up the children of Israël from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither He had driven them: and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, I will send … hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the HOLES OF THE ROCKS’.

When we turn to the New Testament we shall find that Judas Iscariot is associated with ‘the Potter’s Field (Matt, 27:6,7) which is linked with Gehenna, Tophet and Aceldama. We have enough before us, however, without complicating the issue by further additions. Some readers may have found the matter already so complex that a brief summary may be acceptable. We will attempt to weave the many strands that have come before us into some sort of consistent pattern. Israël, originally, were comparable to fine gold, but had degenerated, and were likened to earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of a potter (Lam. 4:1,2). Nebuchadnezzar, to whom sovereignty was transferred on the failure of Israël’s kings, he too is likened to gold, but, the prophet looking down the stream of time, sees the same degeneration, the feet are feet of clay (Dan. 2). The prophet Jeremiah goes over certain aspects of the prophetic history of these two dynasties, using several strange figures, a linen girdle, a potter at work with wheel and clay, the smashing of a potter’s vessel in Tophet or Gehenna, the hiding of the girdle in the hole of a rock by the Euphrates, and the hiding of stones in clay under the brick pavement of Pharaoh’s house, over which Nebuchadnezzar was to spread his royal pavilion. Finally into the Euphrates a stone is cast to rise no more, a symbol of the the fate of Babylon, the dirge concerning the voice of the bridegroom and of the bridge being uttered over both Israël and Babylon.

The difference between the two is that Israël were an elect people, and will come into their inheritance at last by virtue of redemption, whereas Babylon represents the seed of the wicked one, for whom no Kinsman-Redeemer can be found. Israël was for a period taken away captive to Babylon and there the pride of Judah was ‘marred’. This ‘marring’, however, is not forever, for the Lord will have mercy on Israël and  remember His covenant. This same word shachath, ‘mar’, is used against Babylon (Jer. 51:1,11 and 25) where it is translated ‘destroy’. For a time Israël are marred and broken, dashed in pieces like a potter’s vessel, but ultimately, though for a long period ‘hidden’, they shall be restored, gathered and blessed. In the employment of such symbols as marred linen, marred pottery, broken pitchers, hidden stones under brickwork, and in clay, we see the temporary triumph of Babel, which at the beginning had ‘brick for stone’, true index of the deceit and the travesty of truth that is so characteristic of Satanic methods. We should acquaint ourselves with the references to the potter and the clay in the New Testament, and then, reinforced with what we shall have learned, return to the consideration of that Image, whose head was gold, but whose feet were of clay, and endeavour, as God shall bless us, to make that ancient prophecy speak in terms that cannot be misunderstood.

We first turn to the second chapter of Daniel, with some idea of the symbolic intention of the use of clay, especially when placed in extreme opposition to gold — a degeneration. We are concerned with the feet of clay in the image of Daniel 2, but obviously we cannot start at the lower extremities, and hope thereby to interpret the meaning of the feet of an image, we must be in some measure sure of the meaning of the image as a whole, and of the meaning of its several parts.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar besieged and took the city of Jerusalem, ‘and the Lord gave’ Jehoiakim, together with part of the vessels of the temple into his hand, and so commenced ‘the times of the Gentiles’. In the second year of his kingdom Nebuchadnezzar, after pondering his position and wondering what should be ‘hereafter’, had a most wonderful dream. He saw in the night vision a great image, having a head of gold, breast and arms of silver, belly and thighs of brass, legs of iron, feet partly of iron and partly of clay, and while this is the order in which the several parts of the image were constructed, this order is not observed when the impact of the stone is described. We read:

  • ‘Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces’ (Dan. 2:35).
  • ‘The iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold’ (Dan. 2:45).

This disregard for precise order and sequence is either to be attributed to negligence or to design. Negligence is unthinkable in the circumstances (Dan. 2:28-30), so by intention the order is slightly varied. Whatever shall ultimately prove to be the full reason for this alteration, one thing is certain, the figure in all its parts is represented whole and complete.

If any of the kingdoms represented by the different metals did not succeed its predecessor, it would make the sequence of Daniel 2:45 impossible. The reader will already be aware that there is a system of interpretation which rules out Rome as the iron kingdom, and this is sometimes coupled with an argument derived from chapter 7, which speaks of ‘the fourth kingdom upon the earth’. We hope to give Scriptural proofs that Rome Is the iron kingdom of the image of Daniel 2, and that it is NOT the fourth kingdom of Daniel 7.

No lengthy argument is necessary to prove that the head of the gold is Nebuchadnezzar, that the silver kingdom is that of the Medes and the Persians, or that the kingdom of brass represents Greece. We will make the truth of this assertion plain before we proceed.

  • ‘Thou art this head of gold’ (Dan. 2:38).
  • ‘In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. And Darius the Median took the kingdom’ (Dan. 5:30,31).
  • ‘The Medes and Persians’ are spoken of in Daniel 5:28 and 6:12, while the close of the chapter speaks about ‘Cyrus the Persian’ (Dan. 6:28).

We discover that just as the Babylonian sovereignty passed to the Medo-Persians, so in their turn they yielded it up to the Greek. For this we turn to Daniel 8 where Daniel describes a vision in which he saw a ram in conflict with a goat:

  • ‘The ram which thou sawest having two horns are the kings of Media and Persia. And the rough goat is the king of Grecia: and the great horn that is between his eyes is the first king’ (Dan. 8:20,21).

This king is Alexander the Great, and upon his death, his kingdom was divided between his four generals, the fourfold division being Syria, Egypt, Macedonia and Asia Minor (Dan. 8:21,22). Looking down the age to the ‘latter times’ when transgressors are come to the full, the prophet sees the rise of ‘a little horn’ which waxed exceeding great toward the south, and toward the east, and toward the pleasant land, and will finally challenge ‘the Prince of princes’ (Dan. 8:9,23-25). This is the antichristian Beast at the time of the end who shall break the covenant in the midst of the final seven years of Daniel 9. It will be seen that the prophet leaps from the Greek kingdom of brass to the period subsequently to be revealed as indicated by the ten toes, which set forth the ten kings, hinted at in Daniel 2:44, ‘these kings’, and set forth specifically in Daniel 7:24 as ‘ten kings that shall arise’.

Let us return for a moment to see what kind of sovereignty was given by God to Nebuchadnezzar.

  • ‘Thou, O king, art a king of kings: for the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, power, and strength, and glory. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, the beasts of the field and the fowls of the heaven hath He given into thine hand, and hath made thee ruler over them all. Thou art this head of gold’ (Dan. 2:37,38).

Among the objections to Rome is the fact, that all must acknowledge, that Rome never ruled over the lands which were under the dominion of Nebuchadnezzar. This objection is invalid, for it would rule out the Medo-Persians and the Greeks. This is not all, it would if pressed rule out Nebuchadnezzar himself, which is absurd. God may give universal dominion, it may be that this is the only dominion God can give, even as He gave some such dominion to Adam and Noah. But will anyone have the temerity to assert that Nebuchadnezzar actually ruled ‘wheresoever the children of men dwell?’ Were there no men dwelling in Europe, or in China at that time? What becomes then of the objection that Rome never conquered the whole world? Again, will it be seriously maintained that Nebuchadnezzar ever exercised the dominion given him over the beast of the field or the fowl of the air? The selfsame argument that sets aside Rome, equally sets aside the three preceding kingdoms and so is manifestly absurd. Moreover, the prophet actually declared that there would be a deterioration in these successive kingdoms, saying, ‘After thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee’.

We have already pointed out that the word translated ‘inferior’ is the Chaldee ara which is elsewhere aways translated ‘earth’ and is so translated in the selfsame verse that contains the word ‘inferior’ (Dan. 2:39). Inferiority therefore does not rule out succession. The adoption of this word ara suggests an earthward degeneration, and so we see gold followed by silver, silver by brass, brass by iron, iron by clay, but never any suggestion that succession was not maintained. The removal of Rome from the image destroys the prophecy of Daniel 9, for that prophecy speaks of an unbroken period of time which extended from the days of Nehemiah up to the dead of the Messiah, and consequently Alexander’s Empire must have had a successor, otherwise the times of the Gentiles would be running on without a head. A break does come in these prophetic times, as all know, but what was long after the accession of Rome to power. Let us open the New Testament and inquire from its pages whether there was at the time of Christ a world power, and if so what was its name.

Seven features of World Power gathered from the New Testament

  • ‘And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed (or enrolled)’ (Luke 2:1).

This decree was law in Israël, for as we all know it compelled Joseph and Mary to travel to Bethlehem because they were of the house and lineage of David. Surely, it must mean that the reader is already prejudiced, if he does not see in this verse several unquestionable claims to World power.

  1. Caesar Augustus. — The title Caesar is allied with Kaiser and Czar or Tzar, all of which, if not actually derived from, closely resemble the Hebrew word sar, translated ‘prince’ (Dan. 8:11,25). Its use in the New Testament leaves us without doubt that he who held this title ruled the world, at least so far as an inhabitant of Israël was concerned. There are eighteen references to Caesar in the Gospels, eleven in the Acts and one in the epistles. The first occurrence of this title is in the question: ‘Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?’ Before answering this question the Saviour requested that He be shown the tribute money. He was shown ‘a penny’ He then enquired: ‘Whose is this image and superscription? They say unto Him, Caesar’s’; and then came the well-known reply, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s: and unto God the things that are God’s’ (Matt. 22:17-21).
  2. Tribute money. — The didrachmon or double drachm was originally paid by the Jews as a tribute to the temple, and Josephus tells us that after the destruction of Jerusalem, Vespasian diverted this temple tribute to the Capitol. This word didrachmon is used in Matthew 17:24. In verse 25 where the Lord asked the question ‘of whom do the kings of the earth take custom or tribute?’ the word there translated ‘tribute’ is the Latin sensus. It is this word that is used of Caesar’s penny. A Latin tribute paid by Israël to a Roman Emperor! Further, in the Lord’s estimation, a man’s duty was twofold: (1) to God, (2) to Caesar. Could any words more clearly established the sovereignty of the Roman Emperor in worldly matter? When Luke records the question ‘Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar?’ he uses the Greek word phoros, a burden, a tax, which word is repeated by Paul i n Romans 13:6 when he speaks of ‘the powers that be’ that are ordained of God, as we see they were at the appointment of Nebuchadnezzar by God as the head of gold.
  3. All the world. — Here the Greek ‘world’ is oikoumene, ‘the habitable world’. About two hundred years before this, Polybius, a Greek historian born 203 B.C., wrote a universal history in forty books, in which he says Romaioi en oligo chrono pasan huph heatous epoiesan ten oikoumenen. ‘The Romans in a short time subdued the WHOLE INHABITED WORLD‘. Now this word oikoumene is employed in the LXX version in the chapter which speaks of the Babylonian empire (Isa. 13:11). When Satan would tempt the Lord, he showed Him ‘all the kingdoms of the world (oikoumene)’ (Luke 4:5), and this to be an effective bait, must have been universal sovereignty — yet it was co-extensive with the Romans Empire. When at last the Saviour ascends His throne ‘the kingdoms of the world’ will become the kingdom of the Lord. Here are several items of which speak of sovereign power, and taken together constitute the witness of the Scriptures to the fact that Rome was a world power. But this is not all. Luke dates the ministry of John the Baptist in the following terms: ‘Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontus Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee … (Luke 3:1).
  4. Pontius Pilate. — The memory of this Roman Governor has been rendered practically immortal by his inclusion in the creed. ‘Suffered under Pontius Pilate’ takes its place in that confession which opens with the words ‘I believe in God the Father Almighty’. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, Darius, Cyrus, Caesar Augustus, Pontius Pilate. Who shall say that Belshazzar is of account in this line of rulers, but Caesar and Pilate are not?
  5. Herod. — In the Gospel of Matthew, Herod is called ‘king’ (Matt. 2:1), for Matthew writes from the standpoint of the Jew. Luke however looks at Herod from the standpoint of the times, and calls him ‘tetrarch’. This word indicates a ruler or a king who has a subordinate position to a higher authority — and that higher authority was Rome. If Nebuchadnezzar was ‘king of kings’ so also was Caesar, for he appointed ‘kings’ too.
  6. Soldiers. — Whenever we meet with soldiers in the New Testament they are Romans. Roman soldiers not only led away the Saviour to be crucified, they guarded His tomb; and later Roman soldiers rescued Paul from the Jewish mob and it was a Roman soldier who occupied Paul’s lodging while he was under custody (Acts 28:16).
  7. Romans. — Caiaphas expressed his fear that ‘the Romans would come and take away’ the place and national position of Israël. Why the Romans particularly if they were not the dominant power in the earth? Roman citizenship was so prized, that to say ‘I am a Roman’ was preferred to the native patronymic, so that Phrygians were addressed by Paul as Galatians.

In addition to these seven items, Roman crucifixion, and the very attitude of the Roman soldiers to the seamless robe of Christ, form a subject of prophecy (Psa. 22:16-18). We believe that any unbiased reader, facing these seven features and estimating their combined testimony, would have no hesitation in believing that Rome is the Iron kingdom that succeeded the kingdom of Brass in the image of Daniel 2.

A mystery element now comes into play, consequent upon the rejection of Christ, and a principle of interpretation found in Scripture must be brought to bear. Moreover, the false comparison instituted by many between the fourth kingdom of Daniel 2 and 7 must be exposed and its harmful influence removed, and the intention in the symbolism of the clay that enters into the composition of the image at the end must be sought.

The two seeds. The ten kings. The iron and the clay

We are as aware, as are other expositors of prophecy, that the kingdom represented by the Stone cut without hands, was not set up during the sovereignty of Rome, that Rome is not the kingdom represented by the feet of the image, and that some explanation is demanded in order to make this apparent confusion understandable.

We have given seven features, any one of which would justify the owner being called a world power, and enduing the possessor of the whole seven with world sovereignty. Until this position can be controverted, we shall continue to reckon that the iron legs of the image of Daniel 2, coincide with the unbroken period of time indicated in Daniel 9, and that both the iron kingdom and the prophetic forecast of Daniel met together when ‘Messiah’ was ‘cut off’ as we know He was under Pontius Pilate. Had Israël repented when Christ came the first time, then John the Baptist would have been Elijah which was for to come. Israël, however, did not repent, and so John the Baptist was not Elijah, although he went before the Lord ‘in the spirit and power of Elijah’.

With such passages as Matthew 11:14; 17:11,12 and John 1:21,25 we could easily imagine a division of opinion among the early believers, some maintaining that Elijah had already come, some maintaining that he is yet to come, some teaching that John the Baptist was Elijah, and that no other fulfillment is expected, others maintaining that John the Baptist was not Elijah and quoting his own words as proof. Yet such a division would be wrong. Just in the same way, the fact that 483 years after the command to restore Jerusalem unto Messiah the Prince, that He should be cut off ‘and have nothing’ is as true as the other aspect of truth, namely that He awaits in heaven the foreknown day, when He shall ascend the throne so long denied Him. Why was it essential that the number twelve should be completed upon the defection of Judas? The answer is, that if Israël had repented as they were called upon to do, there must have been twelve apostles ready to sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israël. It would have been useless to have argued, that inasmuch as God foreknew that Israël would not repent that He could disregard the fact that there were only eleven apostles just before the day of Pentecost.

In the ordinary way, a man is himself, whether other folk are willing to accept him or not — but John the Baptist was no ordinary man, and so the Saviour said, ‘If ye are willing to receive (it, or him), this is Elijah, the one about to come’; but the people were not thus willing, and instead of ‘receiving’ they rejected the gospel of the kingdom. In the same way we can say, if Isaël had repented, then Rome would have been the last Gentile kingdom on the earth, Anti-christ would have arisen, the Beast would have received Satanic power, the whole of Joël 2:28-31 would have been fulfilled instead of only the prelude at Pentecost, the day of the Lord as depicted in the Revelation would have run straight on without a break, the Second Coming of Christ would have taken place, and the times of restitution all things would have come in.

Instead, a gap of about nineteen hundred years intervenes between Joël 2:28,29 and verses 30 and 31; in the same way a gap intervenes in prophetic details which corresponds with the discontinuance of the hope of Israël at Acts 28, until prophetic times are renewed at the time of the end. Up to Acts 28, Rome was still the world power in direct succession from Nebuchadnezzar, it was to Caesar that Paul was sent for trial and under Caesar he finally paid the extreme penalty for his faithfulness. A few years after Acts 28, Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed and Israël became Lo-ammi, ‘not my people’, their house left desolate, and their hope suspended. Upon the defection of Israël in the land, the kingdom of the heavens had assumed its ‘mystery’ form (Matt. 13); upon the defection of Israël at Rome, the long suffering of God which had waited for another thirty-five years (35), came to an end, ‘the Mystery’ of the present dispensation came in, the mystery of Israël’s blindness also ensued, and Gentile dominion, while still functioning, is covered by a cloud, and mystery intervenes, for the dispensation of the Mystery has no place in it for Gentile powers.

We know from secular history that from the battle of Actium, 31 B.C., to the Saracen conquest, A.D. 636, Rome trod down Jerusalem for a period of 666 years — no accidental number. The Mahometan power continued this affliction right up to our own times, when Jerusalem was delivered from its oppression in November 1917. Since then Israël has been accepted once again as a nation by the nations, and the image of Daniel 2 is emerging from the mist, the iron legs now being seen as feet in the Middle East, which will be eventually intermingled with clay. It is this final aspects of Gentile dominion with which we are chiefly concerned, and which is shaping before our very eyes.

In Daniel 7, the first year of the last king of Babylon, Daniel had a vision of the time of the end. As a consequence of the stirring of the four winds upon the great sea, four beasts were seen to emerge, they ‘came up from the sea’ (Dan. 7:2,3). ‘The great sea’ is a title given in the Old Testament to the Mediterranean Sea (Num. 34:6,7; Josh. 1:4); it is sometimes called ‘the uttermost sea’ (Deut. 11:24). In the interpretation of this vision, these four beasts are said to arise out of the earth. So the geographical origin of these powers may be the land surrounding the Mediterranean. These four beasts are said to be ‘four kings’, not four dynasties lasting centuries but ‘four kings’ and, moreover, they ‘shall arise’. Now Nebuchadnezzar had already risen. Darius the Mede was already in existence and threatening Babylon. These four kings consequently cannot represent the gold, silver, brass and iron of the image, and to import the words ‘the fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth’ by mentally adding, ‘counting from Nebuchadnezzar’, is to go contrary to the fact that these were yet future in Daniel 7. The descriptions given of these symbolic beasts are for the guidance of those of the people of God who live in the day that they arise. There are some things that Daniel knew which were to be sealed unto the time of the end. The identity of these kings is among such subjects. No attempt at specific interpretation is made by the angel, who simply says of these four most peculiar beasts, that they are ‘four kings which shall arise out of the earth’, and he passes without further comment to the glorious conclusion. ‘But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and posses the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever’ (Dan. 7:17,18).

It is at the request of Daniel that further light is thrown upon the fourth beast. This, Daniel noted was ‘diverse from all others’, and although he had been helped by the symbolic use of lion, eagle’s wings, bear and leopard, no such description is given of this fourth beast. The kingdoms represented by gold, silver, brass and iron in the image of Daniel 2 succeeded one another, whereas the rest of the beast, that is the three first mentioned in Daniel 7, lose their dominion, ‘yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time’ (Dan. 7:12). They cannot therefore be successors. The ten horns which the fourth beast had, represent ‘ten kings that shall arise’, and in Revelation 17 this beast is seen supporting Babylon, and the ten horns are said to represent ‘ten kings, which have received no kingdom as yet; but receive power as kings one hour with the beast’ (Rev. 17:12). If this beast of Revelation 17 is the same as that seen by Daniel, then it is folly to attempt to discover these ten kings in past or present history, for until the time of the end they will not have reigned as kings. They are evidently puppet kings at the disposal of the great Dictator of the end. Much more must be considered if the visions of Daniel 7 are to be explained and their relation with the beasts of Revelation 13 and 17 made clear, but that would take us far beyond our present quest.

We must return to the image and its feet of iron and clay. While these ‘ten kings’ are not specifically mentioned, the ten toes of the image indicate them, for the toes being connected with that part of the image which was part of iron and part of clay (Dan. 2:42,43) are in mind when the prophet continued ‘And in the days of these kings‘, no kings being mentioned as such in the context.

This final phase of the image is said to be partly strong and partly broken, or ‘brittle’, as the margin indicates, the clay being potter’s clay which had been burned in the fire and had become so hardened that, while vulnerable to a blow, would stand the weight of the figure above it. The degeneration which was symbolic of Israël’s failure (Lam. 4:1,2) has set in once again. The Gentile is no better than the Jew, neither the one nor the other can bear rule over the earth. The total failure of all men cries aloud for the coming of Christ, and this is the burden of all prophecy, including the Millennium. The prophet Daniel drew Nebuchadnezzar’s attention to one peculiar feature of the feet of the image:

  • ‘And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay’ (Dan. 2:43).

The pronoun ‘they’ refers back to the ‘toes’ which represent ‘kings’ and two things are said of them: ‘they shall mingle’, ‘they shall not cleave unto’. It was the complaint of Ezra after the return from captivity, that ‘the holy seed have mingled themselves with the people of those lands’, and that the princes and rulers had been chief in this trespass (Ezra 9:2). When Ezra heard this he said, among other things, ‘should we again break Thy commandment and join in affinity with the people of these abominations?’ (Ezra 9:14). Thus, had Solomon made affinity with Pharaoh, and married Pharaoh’s daughter (1 Kings 3:1). Out of thirty-three occurrences of the Hebrew word chathan, thirty-two deal with marriage relationship. These ten kings will seek to strengthen their position and the kingdom of the beast by marriage alliances, but there will be no ‘cleaving’ (Gen. 2:24; 2 Sam. 20:2). The strange statement ‘they shall mingle themselves with the SEED OF MEN‘ calls for attention. Even though one nation differs in many features from another, yet despite all differences of colour, creed, politics or religion, they are nevertheless ‘men’, this strange expression therefore makes us wonder whether the ten kings which form a part of the Satanic kingdom of the time of the end are ‘men’ in the full acceptation of the term.

We know from Genesis 6 that angelic beings had some affinity with the daughters of men, and so filled the earth with corruption and violence that the deluge came. The beast that bears the ten horns in Revelation 17 ascends out of the bottomless pit, or the abyss, and is destined for perdition. These ten kings make war with the Lamb Himself, and the intermixture of the clay in the feet of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, seems to indicate the final irruption of fallen spirit powers among the sons of men. If this be so, it is no marvel that such terrible judgments fall during the closing years of Gentile dominion, for it will, in its closing phase, be the visible kingdom of Satan on earth.

The kingdoms of men, even though represented by gold and silver, proved frail and passed away, but this kingdom is brittle, it has within it no true cohesion, it reigns for a brief inglorious hour, and vanished into the air as the dust of a threshing floor. Jeremiah’s lamentations could be repeated of the Gentiles. Those who were comparable to fine gold, were now esteemed as earthen vessels, and potter’s clay. Adam, made of the dust, is reduced to dust again, his dominion forfeited through the wiles of Satan. Israël, who were chosen to be a kingdom of priests, became instead captives to the heathen, and Gentile power which had started with such majesty, is at last levelled to the dust through the same Satanic usurpation. The only hope for this poor world is in the sounding of the seventh trumpet, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Messiah, true King of kings and Lord of lords.

Out: An Alphabetical Analysis / Prophetic Truth / By Charles H. Welch

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THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON:

www.bereanonline.org

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Dagelijks nieuws uit het Midden-Oosten:

www.likud.nl

www.cidi.nl

www.israeltoday.nl

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Bijbelstudie websites:

www.levenwater.org

www.everread.nl

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ISRAEL: / USA:

www.timesofisrael.com

www.ynetnews.com

www.iltv.tv

www.foxnews.com

www.cnn.com

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DE WEG:

www.hadderech.nl

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 

 

 

 Posted by at 17:54
Sep 092018
 

To commence our study with the testimony of the Gospel according to Matthew is to attempt to build without a foundation.The teaching of Matthew and the bulk of the New Testament rests upon the teaching of the Old Testament, not only for the fulfilment of prophecy in the coming of the Lord as Redeemer, but also for His coming again as the hope of His people.

It would not be difficult to prove that the very terms of Adam’s creation look forward to the Second Coming of the Lord. For example, the reference to the dominion given to man in Psalm 8, Psalm 72, Daniel 2 and 7, and Hebrews 2, etc., look forward to the coming reign of Christ the Messiah. The description of the garden of Eden looks forward to Revelation 22 and the promise that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head awaits the Second Coming of the Lord for its  complete fulfilment (Rom. 16:20).

These passage, however, are too indirect for our present purpose, so the first point to which we call attention is:

The prophecy of Enoch 

The words that constitute Enoch’s prophecy are not recorded in Genesis 5, but it matters not who it is that has preserved his utterance so long as it is found within the page of Scripture. We are indebted to Jude for the record. He writes:

  • ‘And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’ (Jude 14,15)

Before we can understand the import of this prophecy, we must observe the general trend of the epistle in order to see the appositeness of Enoch’s witness. If we glance at the earlier verses of Jude we shall see not only a reference to human sin of a deep dye in the mention of Sodom and Gomorrah, but a reference also to angels who kept not their first estate, and are therefore reserved for judgment.

Looking to the end of the epistle, such outstanding apostate as Cain, Balaam and Korah are brought forward as examples of the mockers who shall come in the last times. It is time, therefore, that we consider the structure of the epistle to see just where Enoch’s prophecy comes.

Jude

A 1,2. Benediction

B 3. Exhortation. Beloved. Earnestly contend for faith.

C 4. Ungodly men ‘of old’.

D 5. Remembrance. The Lord’s acts.

E 5-16. 5-8. Three examples, Israël, angels and Sodom. 9,10. Michael the Archangel. Unrecorded elsewhere. Reference to Satan. a 11-13. Three examples, Cain, Balaam and Korah. b 14-16. The Lord and holy myriads. Unrecorded elsewhere. Allusion to Satan.

17. Remembrance. The Lord’s words.

18,19. Ungodly of ‘last time’.

20-23. Exhortation. Beloved. Build up on faith.

24,25. Doxology.

A literal rendering of the words of Enoch recorded in Jude 14 must read: ‘Behold, the Lord came‘. While the true rendering of the aorist of the Greek verb is still somewhat of a moot point, the rightness of the above rendering is confirmed by the general usage and renderings of the A.V. The interested student may test this by noting the occurrence of elthe (part of the verb erchomai ‘to come’), which is usually translated ‘came’, see, for example, John. 1:7,11; 3:2; 7:50; 8:42; etc. If Enoch said, ‘Behold, the Lord came‘, he must have been referring back to some judgment that was past when he spoke. To what could he refer? The judgment of the flood had not then taken place, neither had judgment fallen upon Babel. The description given of the judgment could not refer to Genesis 3 or 4. To what then could it refer?

The reader will probably have travelled back in mind to Genesis 1:2, to the katabole kosmou, ‘the overthrow of the world’. This connection is more than countenanced by Peter in his second epistle which we have already found to be parallel with that of Jude.

The Second Coming and Overthrow (Gen. 1:2)

Enoch referred back to an overthrow that had taken place and said, ‘Behold the Lord came‘, and this reference to angels and Satan removes any sense of disproportion. Enoch also locked forward, and named his son Methuselah, ‘at his death it (namely the flood) shall be’, and in the year of the flood Methuselah died. Enoch’s two prophecies link the two floods Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 6 together.

Ten thousands of His saints‘. These words are quoted by Moses in the blessing of Israël:

  • ‘The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them, He shined forth from mount Paran, and He came with ten thousands of saints: from His right hand went a fiery law for them’ (Deut. 33:2).

There can be no doubt as to the meaning of the word ‘saints’ here. The law of Sinai we know from various Scriptures was mediated by angels (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2).

  • ‘The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai’ (Psa. 68:17).
  • ‘A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him’ (Dan. 7:10).
  • ‘For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels’ (Matt. 17:27; cf. 25:31).
  • ‘The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels’ (2 Thess. 1:7).

These quotations are sufficient to prove that the ‘saints’ or ‘holy ones’ of Enoch’s prophecy are ‘angels’ and not the redeemed. This also is the meaning of Zechariah 14:5, ‘And the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee’, and of Joel 3:11, ‘Thither cause Thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD’; also of 1 Thessalonians 3:13, ‘The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints’.

Coming ‘for’ and ‘with’ His saints

There is quite a school of prophetic thought that stresses the distinction of the coming of the Lord ‘for’ and the coming of the Lord ‘with’ His saints. Supposing for the purpose of argument we accept this view, how does it stand examination? The Thessalonians were waiting for God’s Son from heaven (1:10), and exercising the patience of hope (1:3). They were told that their loved ones who had died would not meet the Lord earlier or later than those living at the time, but that both living and dead would be caught up together to meet the Lord in the air (4:15,16). Well then, what are we to make of 1 Thessalonians 3:13.

  • ‘To the end He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints‘.

If these ‘saints’ are His redeemed people, and if the Thessalonians were to wait for the Lord to come with all His redeemed people, then what place do the Thessalonians occupy? They were redeemed, they certainly were not the unwatchful who might have been left behind, for they were to be established ‘unblameable in holiness’, and if such can be left behind, who then shall go? The distinction between ‘coming with’ excludes those to whom the apostle wrote and contradicts the express statements of 1 Thessalonians 4:15,16 and 5:10. If we take 1 Thessalonians 3:13 to speak of the ‘holy ones’, the ‘saints’ of Deuteronomy 33 and of Enoch’s prophecy, we have the coming of the Lord WITH His angels and FOR His people set before us with clearness and without contradictory statements.

It is interesting to note that the Sinaitic MS. reads: ‘ten thousand of His holy angels’. The angels that shall come at the end of the age are doubtless the same that were instrumental in bringing about the overthrow of Genesis 1 and all the divine interpositions through the ages, until the last that is recorded in the Revelation:

  • ‘And the armies which were in heaven followed Him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean … and the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet … These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone’ (Rev. 19:14-20).

When once we are clear as to the fact that ‘the saints’ of Enoch’s prophecy are the holy angels, we begin to realize their relation in the context with the fallen angels. Moreover, the structure shows that Michael the archangel is placed in correspondence with the Lord and His angels, and both in conflict with Satan. Enoch’s prophecy, with its reference to Genesis 1:2, taken in conjunction with 2 Peter 3 [It is highly probable that Peter speaks of the Flood, but the flood of Genesis 6 is but an echo of the ‘deep’ of Genesis 1, and both catastrophies are associated with the fallen angels], where it is stated that the world that then was, was destroyed by water, and the heavens and earth which are now shall be destroyed by fire, lifts the doctrine of the Second Coming into its true place in the purpose of the ages. There has been a tendency to look upon the Second Coming as a kind of afterthought, the text best thing that could be done in the circumstances. What we call ‘the Second Coming’ was demanded by the purpose of the ages, whether Israël had received their Messiah and His prior presentation or not. Let the scoffers say what they will,

  • ‘Behold, the Lord CAME’ (Jude 14), and ‘He that SHALL COME will come, and will not tarry’ (Heb. 10:37).

Job also must be allowed his witness:

  • ‘For I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that He shall stand at (in) the latter day upon the earth: and (following the margin) after I shall awake, though this body be destroyed, yet out of my flesh shall I see God, Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another. My reins within me are consumed with earnest desire (for that day)’ (Job 19:25-27).

Job was not limiting his vision to the Saviour at Bethlehem, but looked on to ‘the latter day’, a term parallel with ‘the last day’ of the prophets. Moreover, he looked to see his Redeemer standing in the latter day ‘upon the earth’. The parallel passage (Job 14:12) tells us that this shall not take place ’till the heavens be no more’, which refers to the same period as 2 Peter 3:7,10,11; Revelation 20:11 and Isaiah 51:6. Job entertained no hope of ‘going to heaven’. He belonged to that company who will wake after the Millennium, when ‘the heavens be no more’.

The song of Moses (Exod. 15:1-19), uttered at the overthrow of Pharaoh, necessitates the Second Coming for its true fulfillment, and it can never be complete until it is coupled with the song of the Lamb, sung, not upon the shores of the Red Sea, but by a sea of glass mingled with fire, celebrating a victory, not over Pharaoh, but over the Beast and his image (Rev. 15:1-3). The song of Moses, just before his death (Deut. 32:36-43), equally looks forward to the Second Coming for its fulfillment. These passages, however, may be considered too vague to stand alone, and can be better appreciated when the more precise statements of other Scriptures have been read. Traversing the history of Israël to the setting up of the kingdom, we find embedded in the Psalms several testimonies to the Second Coming of the Lord.

In his Psalms, David looks forward to the Coming of the Lord as the great goal of his desire. At the end of Psalm 72 he says, ‘ the prayers (or praises) of David the son of Jesse are ended’, and this climax is the Psalm of the King’s Son. There we read of this great King as the Judge and Deliverer of the poor and needy. Peace and prosperity are the result of His reign. His dominion is from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. All kings fall down before Him, all nations serve Him, and bless Him. The whole earth is full of His glory.

The figure used in verse 6 is liable to be misunderstood: ‘He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass’. There is no word for ‘grass’ in this verse, the word translated ‘mown grass’ being gez, which is also rendered by the word ‘fleece’ and ‘mowings’. To the farmer it is a disaster, not a blessing, for rain to fall upon his new mown grass. What the passage really refers to is the fall of the rain upon the parched earth after the grass has been cut and removed, as expressed in Amos 7:1: ‘The beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth: and lo, it was the latter growth after the king’s mowings’. The figure of Psalm 72 is that the Coming of the Lord will be like the latter rain. Israël shall grow and flourish a second time, there shall be a blessed aftermath, they shall revive and their end shall be glorious.

Coming to Psalm 96 we read of millennial conditions. All the earth is called upon to ‘Sing unto the Lord a new song’. His glory is to be declared among the nations, and the Gentiles are called upon to bring an offering and to come into His courts:

  • ‘Say among the heathen. The LORD reigneth … let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof … FOR HE COMETH, for He cometh to judge the earth’ (Psa. 96:10-13).

This coming is further described in the next Psalm:

  • ‘The LORD reigneth; let the earth rejoice; let the multitude of isles be glad thereof. Clouds and darkness are round about Him … a fire goeth before Him … The hills melted like wax AT THE PRESENCE of the LORD, at the presence of the Lord the whole earth’ (Psa. 97:1-5).

Psalm 98 ends with the words ‘For He cometh’, etc., and gives additional details of that day. Psalm 110 anticipates the coming of the Lord:

  • ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strenght out of Zion … the Lord at Thy right hand shall strike through kings in the day of His wrath’ (Psa. 110:1-5).

This reflects upon the character of the Millennium. The closing words of Psalm 150, ‘Let everything that hath breath praise the LORD, Praise ye the LORD’, look forward to Revelation 5:13 for the time of their fulfillment.

Enoch’s prophecy, Job’s patience, Moses’ song and David’s prayer, all bear their testimony that the Lord is coming to this earth once again. Coming in judgment upon the ungodly (Enoch), coming with resurrection life for those who own Him as Redeemer (Job), coming to lead a mightier exodus that that through the Red Sea (Moses), coming to reign as the greater that Solomon, David’s Son and David’s Lord.

Daniel’s dream, given in chapter 7, shows that the setting up of this kingdom takes place at the second Coming of the Lord. Once more we adhere to the one theme before us, deferring the question as to whether the four beast are parallel with the metals of Nebuchadnezzar’s image, or whether they have a different time period both for commencement and for fulfillment. The theme of the Second Coming is found in verses 9-14. In these verses we have the Apocalypse of the Old Testament:

  • ‘I beheld till the thrones were cast done (set), and the Ancient of days did sit, Whose garment was white as snow and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened … I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed’ (Dan. 7:9-14).

Daniel, desiring fuller information concerning the dream, asked one of them that stood by concerning it. He was told that the saints of the Most High would take the kingdom, and in answer to a yet closer questioning concerning the fourth beast and the ten horns, he was informed of the condition  of things that would obtain at the end, when the Beast would blaspheme God, and ‘wear out the saints of the Most High’. This, however, was for a time; oppression would at length give place to judgment.

  • ‘And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High, Whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominion shall serve and obey Him’ (Dan. 7:27).

The sphere of the dream, as also of Nebuchadnezzar’s, is limited to the kingdoms of this world. It is ‘under the whole heaven’ (7:27), it fills ‘the whole earth’ (2:35), it takes the place of kingdoms ruled by man, and its dominion includes peoples, nations and languages. A reference to Daniel 3:4 will show that this was the language of Nebuchadnezzar’s proclamation when the herald called upon all in his dominion to bow down to the golden image in the plain of Dura. There is moreover a parallel with this in dominion of Babylon at the time of the end: ‘The waters which thou sawest … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues’ (Rev. 17:15). It is also the description of the dominion of the Beast: ‘power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations’ (Rev. 13:7). At the sounding of the seventh trumpet ‘the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign unto the ages of the ages’ (Rev. 11:15). There is no necessity to labour the proof of the identity of the dreams of Daniel and the visions of John. Both refer to the Son of Man at His Coming to the earth to rule and reign.

The visions of Zechariah

There are allusions to the Second Coming in the minor prophets, such as Habakkuk 2:3,4 (with Heb. 10:37), Haggai 2:7-9, and Joel 3:13-16 (with Rev. 14:15-18), which the reader should search out in order to make full acquaintance with Old Testament testimony to this important aspect of truth. For the present, however, we will turn to the visions of Zechariah:

  • ‘Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daugther 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’ (Zech. 9:9).

There is a notable omission in the quotation of this prophecy in Matthew 21:5 (cf. John 12:15):

  • ‘Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass’.

The multitudes ‘shouted’, they cried ‘Hosannah’, which means ‘save now’, but not so the inspired writer. He omits the ‘shout’ and the ‘salvation’. Not until the Lord comes the second time will Zion cry out and shout, or salvation be brought to her.

Following the passage quoted from Zechariah 9:9 comes the resulting peace and dominion:

  • ‘And I will (He shall LXX) cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and He shall speak peace unto the heathen: and His dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth’ (Zech. 9:10).

Our conception of ‘meekness’ does not fit in with the idea of triumph and conquest, and some may object to the application of this passage to Revelation 19 and the Rider on the white horse. Psalm 45:4,5 however, shows that there is no incongruity:

  • ‘And in Thy majesty ride prosperously because of truth and meekness … Thine arrows are sharp in the heart of the king’s enemies’.

Jerusalem is the centre of interest in Zechariah, and is prominent in the prophetic sections that speak of the Lord’s Coming. For example, chapter 12, verse 2, says: ‘Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about’. And it is in connection with the sore straits of the besiege city that Zechariah speaks of the Second coming:

  • ‘In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem ,,, and it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him’ (Zech. 12:8-10).

John 19:34-37 leaves us in no doubt as the identity of Him Who was thus pierced, and Revelation 1:7 reveals with equal certainty that Zechariah 12 is future:

  • ‘Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him: and all kindreds (tribes) of the land shall wail because of Him. Even so, Amen’.

There has never been a national mourning by Israël for the death of Christ, there has never been a destruction of the enemies of Jerusalem since New Testament times, and since the partial beginning at Pentecost there has never been poured out upon Israël the spirit of grace.

The Mount of Olives

Zechariah resumes the theme of Jerusalem’s trouble and the Lord’s deliverance:

  • ‘I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle … Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations … and His feet shall stand … upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east … and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee’ (Zech. 14:2-5).

There can be no doubt as to the literality of the Mount of Olives. It is described geographically as being ‘before Jerusalem on the east’. Moreover, to question the identity of the place would be to introduce a serious problem into Acts 1:

  • ‘A cloud received Him out of their sight … This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven. Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet’ (Acts 1:9-12).

The direct association between the Second Coming of Acts 1 and Zechariah 14 established by the angels’ message, confirms the appropriateness of the apostles’ question as to the restoration of the kingdom to Israël (Acts 1:6), and leaves no room for ‘the church’ in this aspect of hope. It can be none other than ‘the hope of Israël’ mentioned by Paul as still obtaining in Acts 28:20.

The visions of Zechariah concerning the Second Coming can be summed up in his own words: ‘Jerusalem, thy King cometh‘.

From one end of his prophecy to the other, Jerusalem its deliverance and restoration are prominent, and the coming Lord is set forth as Israëli’s King when the reign of righteousness has commenced.

What is true of Zechariah is true of all the prophets:

  • ‘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 3:20,21).

The burden of Malachi

The last oft the prophets, Malachi, anticipates the duel ministry of the two forerunners of the Messiah, John the Baptist and Elijah. The name Malachi means ‘My messenger’:

  • ‘Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me’ (Mal. 3:1).
  • ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God; as it is written in the prophets, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee … John did baptize in the wilderness’ (Mark 1:1-4).
  • ‘John … sent two of his disciples … Jesus began to say … concerning John … this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send My messenger before Thy face, which shall prepare Thy way before Thee’ (Matt. 11:2-10).

With the purport of these passages before us, we cannot avoid seeing that in Malachi 3:1, John the Baptist is in view, yet when we read on we are conscious of the conflicting fact that verse 2 introduces a very different atmosphere from that of the four gospels and John’s day. Let us notice the language:

  • ‘But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? … He shall purify the sons of Levi … then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years’ (Mal. 3:2-4).

This passage most surely speaks of the Second Coming, yet it is closely associated with John the Baptist. In Malachi 4:1,2 we read:

  • ‘For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud … shall be stubble … but unto you that fear My name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in His wings’.

Here there is close association with another messenger and forerunner, namely Elijah:

  • ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children … lest I come and smite the earth with a curse’ (Mal. 4:5,6).

What, then, is the connection between these two personages and the two comings? Turning to the New Testament we shall find that the two messengers are intimately related. When the birth of John the Baptist was announced to his father, Zacharias, the angel said to John: ‘Many of the children of Israël shall he turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah’ (Luk 1:16,17). When John was asked by the priests and Levites, ‘Art thou Elijah?’ he said, ‘I am not’ (John 1:21).

The Lord, however, when He had vindicated John the Baptist, as we have already seen in Matthew 11, spoke of the kingdom of heaven suffering violence and opposition. Then alluding to John, He says: ‘And if ye will receive it (i.e. the kingdom), this is Elijah, which was for to come’ (Matt. 11:14). That this was a cryptic, or parabolic, utterance seems certain by the added words, ‘He that hath ears to hear, let him hear’ (verse 15).

When the Lord descended from the mount of Transfiguration, the disciples raised the question of Elijah coming:

  • ‘Why then say the scribes that Elias (Elijah) must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias (Elijah) truly shall first come, and restore all things’ (Matt. 17:10,11).

Here is a plain answer, endorsing the belief that Elijah himself must come before the restoration of all things can take place. But the Lord then proceeds to bring the spirit of the passage to bear upon the time then present, continuing:

  • ‘But I say unto you, That Elias (Elijah) is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that He spake unto them of John the Baptist’ (Matt. 17:12,13).

While there were, therefore, at the first Coming of the Lord, provisional arrangements sufficient to remove all idea that the non-repentance of Israël was destined and therefore without responsibility, He Who knew all things in a manner we cannot even imagine, knew that the Messiah would be rejected. John the Baptist was not Elijah, but he came in the spirit and power of Elijah. Except in a typical, anticipatory fashion the kingdom was not set up. The great work of redemption was accomplished, but the real coming and restoration of the kingdom await the day of days toward which all the prophets point.

It must be obvious to all that any system of interpretation that takes up the teaching of the Second Coming without due regard to this consistent and far-reaching line of witnesses, is of necessity liable to lead its exponents into tremendous mistakes.

The Coming of the Lord and The New Testament Fulfilment

The sunteleia. The times of refreshing. The presence of the Lord.

The passages we have looked at in Matthew’s Gospel, while adding their quota to the teaching of the New Testament concerning the Second Coming of the Lord, are nevertheless isolated and fragmentary in character.

Matthew 24, on the other hand, is a discourse wholly devoted to the subject. This notable discourse is introduce by the closing verses of Matthew 23:

  • ‘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 chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you. Ye shall not see Me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (Matt. 23:37-39).

We have here a quotation from Psalm 118:25,26:

  • ‘Save now (Hosannah), I beseech Thee, O LORD … Blessed be He that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD’.

The Hosannah quotation is found in Matthew 21:9. It is important to notice that the cry, ‘Blessed be He that cometh’, is closely associated with ‘the house of the Lord’. This adds point to the Lord’s words ‘your house is left unto you desolate’, and also provides a reason for the disciples’ remarks concerning the building of the temple. When the Lord told them that there should not be left one stone upon another, it is evident by their threefold question that this desolation was connected in their minds with the Coming of the Lord.

The threefold question 

This threefold question and its answer occupies the whole of Matthew 24 from verse 3:

  • ‘And as He sat upon mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us: —
  1. When shall these things be?
  2. And what shall be the sign of Thy Coming.
  3. And  the end of the world (age)?’

In answering the disciples’ question, the Lord deals with them in the reverse order:

  1. The end of the age (4-24).
  2. The sign of the coming (25-31).
  3. When these things shall be (32-42).

The answer of the Lord as to the end of the age is twofold. First, negative — ‘the is not yet’; –‘all these are the beginning of sorrows’. Second positively — ‘then shall the end come’. Before going further we must notice that there are two words here translated ‘end’. In verse 3 it is sunteleia. In verses 6,13, and 14 it is telos. The phrase ‘the sunteleia of the age’ occurs only in the Gospel of Matthew, whilst ‘the sunteleia of the ages’ occurs but once, viz., in Hebrews:

‘The harvest is the end of the age’ (Matt. 13:39). ‘So shall it be in (at) the end of this age’ (Matt. 13:40,49). ‘The end of the age’ (Matt. 24:3). ‘Even unto the end of the age’ (Matt. 28:20). ‘Once in the end of the ages’ (Heb. 9:26).

The first occurrence connects the term with the harvest, and in this lies the explanation of the word, for the first occurrence of the same word in the LXX of Exodus 23:16 refers to the same period:

  • ‘The feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering (sunteleia), which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field’.

At first it seems that there is a discrepancy between the Lord’s words in Matthew 13:39 and the passage. The Lord said that the harvest was the sunteleia, whereas Exodus 23 speaks of a feast of harvest, as distinct from the feast of the sunteleia. The answer is suggested by the presence of the word ‘firstfruits’, and by this particular kind of harvest in view — ‘which thou hast sown in the field’. A reference to Exodus 34:22, however, makes all plain: ‘thou shalt observe the feast of weeks, of the firstfuits of wheat harvest, and the feast of ingathering at the year’s end’.

Now the disciples being Jews and taught in the law, knew the order of their feast and much of their typical nature. Unless the reader has definitely studied the feasts of Israël, he is at a disadvantage here, and before he can hope to appreciate the teaching of Matthew 24, he must supply the deficiency. There is one chapter in the law that sets out the feasts of Israël in their order, namely, Leviticus 23, and to that we must turn.

The feast of the Lord

The sabbaths (Lev. 23:1-3). The first of the feasts to be mentioned is the weekly sabbath. This underlies the whole of God’s dealings with Israël. There are the following sabbaths mentioned:

  • Sabbath of seven days (Lev. 23:3).
  • Sabbath of seven weeks (Lev. 23:15).
  • Sabbath of seven months (Lev. 23:34).
  • Sabbath of seven years (Lev. 25:2-7).
  • Sabbath of seven times seven years (Lev. 25:8-17).
  • Sabbath of seventy years (Dan. 9:2), and finally the
  • Sabbath of seventy times seven (Dan. 9:24), in which the whole purpose of God for Israel shall be accomplished.

This emphasis is too insistent to be avoided. Underlying the whole history of Israël is this sabbatic element. From verse 4 of Leviticus 23 feast ‘in their seasons’ are recorded, which also conform to the sabbatic character. We have, in verse 5, the feast of the first month detailed, and in verses 34 and 39 that the seventh month described. Between these two all the other feasts are found, so that while Israël’s year had twelve months, with an intercalary thirteenth month at intervals, its typical year took note only of seven of these months.

We must now tabulate the feasts in order to place the sunteleia:

  1. THE SABBATH — Impressing the character of Israel’s typical history (see Heb. 4:9 Greek)
  2. THE PASSOVER — Redemption, deliverance ‘out of’.
  3. THE UNLEAVENED BREAD — The sheaf waved (Lev. 23:10). A firstfruits.
  4. PENTECOST — TWO wave loaves. Fifty days. Jubilee anticipated.
  5. FEAST OF TRUMPETS — Joel 2:1,15; 1 Cor. 15:52.
  6. THE DAY OF ATONEMENT — Repentance (Lev. 23:28,29). Reconciliation and access.
  7. TABERNACLES — The sunteleia. Harvest and ingathering. The eighth day stressed (Lev. 23:39).

While, experimentally, we must all begin with redemption — Passover, the first month of the year to you‘ (Exod. 12:2), God begins with the Sabbath, and the purpose of the age is to restore that which is past.

Passover, Unleavened Bread, Pentecost and the Firstfruits have received their fulfillment (1 Cor. 5:7,8; Acts 2; 1 Cor. 15:20). Between Pentecost and Trumpets is an interval of some months, with no feast to mark it, only a reference to ‘the poor’, and to the stranger (Lev. 23:22). Here, in these silent months between Pentecost and Trumpets, is where the unrevealed dispensation of the Mystery finds its place.

The feast of Tabernacles, being the sunteleia, must be given a little closer attention. This feast celebrates both the harvest of ‘the corn and the wine’ (Deut. 16:13). At the return of the captivity under Ezra, and again under Nehemiah (Ezra 3:4 and Neh. 8:14) it was observed, and this is the feast picked out by God for annual observance by all the nations that are left after the coming of the Lord (Zech. 14:16-19). The association of ‘tabernacles’ and the Coming of the Lord explains Peter’s suggestion on the mount of Transfiguration, that he should make three tabernacles (Matt. 17:4).

After the detailed statement of Leviticus 23:34-36, the writer returns to the Feast of Tabernacles to give further particulars (verses 39-43), thus marking it as of great importance. Here we have the command to take boughs of trees and to dwell in booths or tabernacles. Here also is emphasized the ‘eighth day’ which is ‘the last day, that great day of the feast’ (John 7:2 and 37), when the Lord spake of the full outpouring of the Spirit — upon His own glorification — partially fulfilled at Pentecost, but awaiting His Second Coming for its complete fulfillment.

The ‘eight day’ brings us to Resurrection. The tabernacles speak of true ‘peace and safety’, and all these typical observances are covered by the word sunteleia used by the disciples when they came to the Lord with their question ‘What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and the end of the age? That ‘end’ they knew was harvest, ingathering, rejoicing, peace; all inseparable from the Coming of the Lord. Until He is ‘glorified’, that ‘consummation’, though devoutly to be wished, is as unattainable as utopia, a mirage, the will-o’-the-wisp of politicians and reformers who have not grasped the essential relation between ‘the times of refreshing’ and ‘the presence of the Lord’. That wholesome lesson it is hoped we have learned. And now, having some understanding of what the question of Matthew 24:3 includes and implies, we can give more earnest heed to the answer that follow.

The Lord’s threefold answer as to ‘When? and ‘What?’ (Matthew 24)

Having seen the Scriptural meaning of the ‘end’, and its type in the feast of tabernacles, we now proceed to the continuation of the Lord’s answers to His disciples’ questions. In verse 4 to 24 He takes up this question of the ‘end’. The first and last words in this section deal with deception:

  • ‘And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My name … and shall deceive many’ (verses 4,5).
  • ‘For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they deceive the very elect’ (verse 24).

Following this opening warning concerning the false Christs, the Lord tells of the features indicative of the beginning of sorrows, but adds, ‘the end is not yet’. Verses 6 to 14 are occupied with the characteristic features that lead up to the ‘end’ (telos):

  • Negative — ‘The end is not yet’ (verse 6).
  • Explanatory — ‘All these things are the beginning of sorrows’ (verse 8).
  • Exhortative — ‘Endure unto the end … be saved’ (verse 13).
  • Positive — ‘Then shall the end come’ (verse 14).

As with the prophecies of the Old Testament, such as Isaiah, Daniel, and Zechariah, ‘the nations’ are involved in this period of the ‘end’. Wars and rumors of wars, with nation rising against nation, form part of the beginning of sorrows. Hatred by all nations for a witness, ushers in the end.

The ‘end’ is marked by ‘tribulation’ in two phases. Firstly, during the ‘beginning of sorrows’ the Lord says: ‘They shall deliver you up to be tribulated‘ (afflicted, as in verses 21 and 29). Secondly, there comes ‘great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world till now, no, nor ever shall be’ (verse 21).

We may visualize the outstanding features of this first answer:

A 24:4,5. Warning against deception by false Christs.

B 6-14. The beginning of sorrows. ‘Endure’ ‘saved’.

B 15-22. The Tribulation in full course. ‘Shortened’ ‘saved’.

23,24. Warning against deception by false Christs.

Intermingled with the conflict of nations we have famines, pestilence and earthquakes, as signs of the beginning of sorrows. A gleam of hope is found in these passages of gloom in the word ‘sorrow’. Odin and odino speak, not of sorrow in general, but pains in particular, ‘pains that issue in birth’. There are altogether seven occurrences:

  • ‘Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death’ (Acts 2:24).
  • As travail upon a woman with child’ (1 Thess. 5:3),

(and in all the other references, viz., Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8; Gal. 4:19,27 and Rev. 12:2).

This last references is illuminated by Matthew 24 and send back light in return. The birth pains of Revelation 12:2 are followed by the rise of the Beast and the False Prophet, and the war on the saints of chapter 13. There also, in Revelation 13, is the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet.

The sign of the Coming

Passing from the question of the ‘end’, the Lord comes to the related question of ‘the sign of the Coming’. This too, is introduced by warnings against deception. The two foci of this second answer are found in verses 24,30, and 31:

  • ‘Signs and wonders … if possible deceive the very elect’ (Matt. 24:24).
  • ‘The sign of the Son of man in heaven … gather together His elect’ (Matt. 24:30,31).

The false signs and wonders are described in Revelation 13 and 2 Thessalonians 2:

  • ‘And he doeth great wonders … and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles’ (Rev. 13:13,14).
  • ‘And then shall that Wicked (one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming (parousia): even him, whose coming (parousia) is after the working of Satan … with all deceivableness of unrighteousness’ (2 Thess. 2:8-10).

By referring to Hebrews 2:4 we shall see how close is the parody of Satan:

  • ‘God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of holy spirit’ (Heb. 2:4 author’s translation).
  • ‘After the working of Satan with all power and signs and wonders of the lie’ (2 Thess. 2:9 author’s translation).

Moreover, both the Lord and the false christ are to have a parousia, as the word is for ‘coming’.

Not only are there these two signs, but there are also two gatherings:

  • ‘For wheresoever the carcase is, there will be eagles be gathered together (sunnago)’ (Matt. 24:28).
  • ‘He shall send His angels with a trumpet, and a great voice (margin), (a Hebraism possibly, but suggestive of 1 Thess. 4:16), and they shall gather together (episunago) His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other’ (Matt. 24:31).

None need be deceived. Look at the difference between pettifogging, ‘Behold, He is in the desert’ or ‘Behold, He is in the secret chambers’, and the worldwide, open, and manifest shining ‘from the east even unto the west’. Or again, the actual gathering together of the elect ‘from one end of heaven to the other’. Some have been deceived by being told that the Millennium has already dawned, and that Christ has already come in secret. The very sign of the times! There will be no true possibility of saying, ‘Lo, there’, for neither the Beast nor the False Prophet can cause the sun to be darkened, nor the moon to cease to give her light, neither can they cause the stars to fall from heaven nor the powers of heaven to be shaken. And these things are the immediate forerunners of the Lord: ‘And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven’ (Matt. 24:30).

The structure of the second answer concerning the ‘sign of His Coming’ may be set out as follows:

A 24:24. The false signs.

B 24:26,27. Not ‘In the secret place’ but like the lightning, etc.

C 24:28. The gathering. Eagles, carcase.

B 24:29. Sun, moon, stars.

A 24:30. The sign of the Son of man.

24:31 The gathering. Angels, elect.

As one considers the warnings given in this passage, one wonders what will be the outcome of much that goes by the name of Pentecostalism today. Believing men and women are agonizing in prayer for ‘signs and wonders’. What will they do when the signs suddenly appear? It is blessed to know that the very elect will not be finally deceived, but some will come perilously near to it.

The Second Coming ‘dated’!

The close of the answer to the question concerning the ‘sign’ merges into the third answer, which deals with the question: ‘when shall these things be?’. We say the Second Coming is dated, yet we would not be misunderstood. We feel called upon to repudiate all attempts to fix a date for the Coming of the Lord, whether by computations of dates from Scriptures, the year-day theory, or from the so-called divine chronology of the Great Pyramid:

  • ‘But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only’ (Matt. 24:36).
  • ‘It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power’ (Acts 1:7).

Such definite statements of Scripture are sufficient. Yet we can say, in one sense, that the Second Coming is dated. This the passage in Matthew 24:29 does for us: ‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days’. Those who ‘wait for God’s Son from heaven’, who wait for ‘the Lord Himself to descent from heaven with a shout, voice of trumpet’ (1 Thess. 1:10; 4:16 with Matt. 24:31 margin), who await ‘the gathering together unto Him’ (episunago, 2 Thess. 2:1,2 with Matt. 24:31) cannot Scriptually contemplate escaping the Great Tribulation if they should be ‘alive and remain unto the Coming of the Lord’. For in Matthew 24 and in 1 and 2 Thessalonians the same coming (parousia) is in view, with all its accompaniments.

A further hint as to time is given by the Lord in verses 32 and 33:

  • ‘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 all these things, know that it (or He) is near, even at the doors’ (Matt. 24:32,33).

While we may not attempt to forecast the day and the hour, we should learn the parable of the fig tree. The fig stands for Israel in one of its aspects, as do the vine and olive in others. The key to prophecy has always been Israël and Jerusalem.

The Lord follows His word with regard to the time with a reference to Noah and the suddenness of the flood, saying:

  • ‘So shall also the coming of the Son of Man be’ (Matt. 24:39).

This note is again sounded in the reference to the two women grinding at the mill, and the two in the field. Luke’s addition: ‘In that night there shall be two men in one bed’ (Luke 17:34) completes the whole day and night. Working in the field represents the day time, grinding at the mill the early hours of the morning, and sleeping in a bed, the night. The parable of the virgins likewise speaks of this same thing, concluding as it does, with words almost identical with Matthew 24:42:

  • ‘Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh’ (Matt. 25:13).

The one thing that appears from the various passages that deal with the question, ‘when shall these things be?’ is that the Lord did not tell them. What He did was to urge readiness because the day and the hour were unrevealed.

Before concluding this section on Matthew 24 we draw attention to some of the passages of the Old Testament Scriptures cited, or alluded to, by the Lord, which but confirm the growing conviction that the Second Coming, as revealed in Matthew 24 is entirely connected with Israël:

  • Matthew 24:7 — Citation Isaiah 19:2 — ‘Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom’.

It is important to observe the connection made here with Egypt, for that land has a part to play.

Isaiah 19:3 says that as a result of this upheaval of kingdoms, ‘they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards’. These will introduce ‘the signs and wonders and miracles of the lie’, and lead the world into tragedy of the end. It behoves those who have eyes opened to see, to avoid the slightest approach to these things of darkness.

  • Matthew 24:15 — Citation Daniel 9:27 — ‘The abomination of desolation’.

This ‘desolation’ must be connected with 23:38, ‘Your house is left unto you desolate‘. It is most clearly associated with Israël — see the whole of Daniel 9.

  • Matthew 24:21 — Citation Daniel 12:1 — ‘Then shall be great tribulation’.

A comparison of these two passages will prove that they refer to one event.

  • ‘Matthew 24:24 — Reference Isaiah 8:18 — ‘Signs and wonders’.

There are false ‘signs and wonders’ that are spoken of in the Scriptures, and these will be fulfilled as surely as those signs that accompanied the Messiah’s first advent (Matt. 11:4-6). In Isaiah 8 there is the great contrast between the God-given signs and wonders, and the result of the efforts of wizards that peep and mutter and which seek unto the dead (see also Isa. 19:3).

  • ‘Matthew 24:29 — Citation Isaiah 13:10 and 34:4 — ‘Sun to be darkened. Moon not to give light. Stars shall fall’.

Isaiah 13:9-13 declares that this shall be in the day of the Lord, which shall be characterized by wrath and fierce anger. The passage connects it with the fall of Babylon in verse 19, and in Isaiah 34:5 it is connected with wrath upon Idumea.

  • ‘Matthew 24:30 — Citation Zechariah 12:10-12 — ‘The tribes of the earth (land) shall mourn’.

There shall be a national mourning for the death of Christ (Messias), the great fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, which will be followed by the blessed ingathering, or sunteleia.

  • ‘Matthew 24:30 — Citation Daniel 7:13 — ‘The Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’.

To read this citation in its context in Daniel 7:9-14 is to see that the Coming of the Lord, as set forth in Matthew 24 has no reference to ‘the church’ but is essentially connected with the kingdom and its restoration to Israel, for it ‘shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High’ (Dan. 7:27).

While much has been omitted in our survey, we hope that nothing that bears upon the point of our inquiry has been pass over, and sufficient has been set out to leave the reader in possession of the true import of this wonderful prophecy given by our Lord upon the Mount of Olives; fit place for such a revelation!

The Witness of Peter and James to the dispersion

As all that we have yet seen of our subject has been very definitely connected with Israël, it would seem wise to leave Paul’s testimony until we have completed our study of the remainder of the New Testament, and considered the testimony of James, Peter and John as ministers to the circumcision (Gal. 2:7-9). Accordingly we turn to the epistle of James.

The true rendering of the word ‘James’ is ‘Jacob’. That the translators of the King James’ Version should use this name is not surprising when we remember that followers of King James were called ‘Jacobites’. The opening verse of the epistle reads, therefore:

  • ‘Jacob, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES which are scattered abroad’.

If any reader maintains that the ‘twelve tribes’ is an appropriate title of the church (ecclesia) which knows neither Greek nor Jew, we cannot approve of this logic, though we can readily admit his consistency if he takes to himself the whole epistle; but for those who have learned to distinguish things that differ, a letter addressed to the twelve tribes, though it may possess the full authority and blessing which belong to ‘all Scriptures’, must of necessity contain much that cannot strictly refer to the Church (ecclesia).

The theme of the epistle is that of patience in tribulation, with glory in prospect at the end. With this theme the first chapter opens, and with it the last chapter closes:

  • ‘Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh … Ye have heard of the patience of Job …’ (James 5:7-11).
  • ‘After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight … He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth’ (Hosea 6:2,3).

Joel also, speaks of the former and latter rain in direct connection with the restoration and Pentecost (2:23-31). It is not by accident that, towards the close of chapter 5, James speaks again of the rain, this time of its being withheld from the earth for a period of three years and a half (5:17). As we have already seen, James writes to Israël, urging patience, and using the figure of the husbandman; and he includes the actual period of three and a half years that Revelation indicates to be the time of Israël’s greatest testing (Rev. 13:5). Moreover, in chapter 5, he speaks of the ‘Judge standing before the door’ (James 5:9).

We now pass on to the fuller testimony of Peter. In the opening greeting of the epistle of James the wording is literally, ‘To the twelve tribes, to those in the dispersion (en te diaspora). Peter follows the same course and addresses his epistle to the ‘sojourners of a dispersion (diasporas). The word diaspeiro implies the thought of sowing, as seed, the choice of the term being in harmony with the prophecy of Hosea 2:23 and the title of Jezreel.

James speaks of the need of patience during the time of tribulation; Peter also speaks of the need of patience and a similar time of fiery trial. In connection with this period of trial the apostle brings into prominence the Second coming of the Lord:

  • ‘That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth (though it — i.e. perishing gold — be tried with fire), might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing (revelation) of Jesus Christ’ (1 Pet. 1:7).

It is necessary to keep distinct the two words, ‘appearing’ and ‘revelation’. The translators of the Authorized Version not having seen the dispensational distribution of terms dealing with the Lord’s Coming, have used the word ‘appearing’ here for ‘revelation’, but this is not sufficiently accurate. Apokalupsis should always be translated by the word ‘revelation’; the translators themselves have rendered its verbal form ‘revealed’ in 1 Peter 1:5 and 12, while in 1 Peter 1:13 the actual word is correctly rendered:

  • ‘Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end (or perfectly) for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ’.

The apostle reverts to the fiery trial and its connection with the Coming of the Lord in chapter 4:

  • ‘Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you … but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy’ (1 Pet. 4:12,13).

This perfect balance of teaching is the more strikingly emphasized when we remember that the true rendering of 1 Peter 1:11 is not, ‘the sufferings of Christ’, but the ‘sufferings for Christ, and the glories that should follow’. This does not, of course, by any means deny the truth that the one great basis of all glory is the suffering of Christ, and to this Peter refers before his epistle closes:

  • ‘The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of God … And when the Chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away’ (1 Pet. 5:1-4).

In this passage we have portrayed the intimate connection between the sufferings of Christ, and the sufferings for Christ, for a ‘witness’ here, is not a mere spectator, but one who is willing, if need be, to seal his testimony by death. The word is translated ‘witness’ and ‘martyr’ in Revelation (1:5 and 2:13). Martyrdom was not faraway from those to whom Peter wrote, and in his closing words he still has this in mind:

  • ‘But the God of all grace, Who hath called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect … ‘ (1 Pet. 5:10).

The second epistle does not add materially to the teaching of the first on this subject, but is concerned with the denial of the Lord’s Coming and the problem of its apparent delay. ‘Knowing this first’ are the keywords:

  • Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation (its own unfolding)’ (2 Pet. 1:20).
  • Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers’ (2 Pet. 3:3).

This first passage deals with the certainty of the fulfillment of the prophecy concerning the Lord’s Coming: the second deals with those who, by misunderstanding the results of certain dispensational changes, denied the fulfillment of the promise altogether. In both contexts there is, as we shall see, an appeal to Scripture:

‘For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (2 Pet. 1:16).

This statement the apostle established in two ways: first, by introducing the type of the Mount of Transfiguration; and secondly, by the word of prophecy made more sure.

In chapter 3, Peter still holds most firmly to the truth, and will not for a moment admit that the Lord is slack concerning His promise. It is unwise, the apostle declares, even to measure length of time by our own understandings, for in some of God’s dealings a day may be as a thousand years, or a thousand years as a day. The Coming of the Lord for which Peter waited, however, was that Coming which is connected with the day of the Lord, the dissolving of the heavens, and the burning up of the elements, events that usher in the new heavens and the new earth. There is no uncertainty as to what Peter hoped for; the uncertainty comes in at the point where the subject passes from Peter’s province to Paul’s. Referring to the apparent delay in the fulfillment of the promise of the Lord’s return, Peter says:

  • ‘Account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, unto their own destruction’ (2 Pet. 3:15,16).

Several items of importance are contained in these words:

  1. Paul’s epistles are classed with ‘the other Scriptures’ and these Peter has already testified to be inspired (2 Pet. 1:16-21).
  2. Peter, though an apostle, confesses that some of Paul’s teaching is ‘hard to understood’.
  3. The fact that the coming of the Lord had not taken place as had been expected must not, says the apostle, be considered ‘slackness’, but  for a full and inspired explanation of the purpose of God during this interval, one man only had received a message, and that man was Paul.

Not one word has been added by either James or Peter that is not a legitimate expansion of Old Testament prophecy. The Second Coming of the Lord is rooted deep in the Scriptures of the old covenant.

Turning to Paul’s epistles, we find the hope of the Lord’s Coming occupying an important place in the two epistles to the Thessalonians. In the first chapter of first Thessalonians we read:

  • ‘Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1:3).

This is enlarged in verses 9 and 10:

  • ‘Ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; and to wait for His Son from heaven … even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come’ (1:9,10).

That verses 9 and 10 are an expansion of verse 3 seems to be clear from the structure:

1 Thessalonians 1:3-10

A 1:3. Work of faith. Labour of love. Patience of hope.

B 4,5 ‘For’ The gospel to Not only. But also. What manner.

C 6. Followers of us.

D 6. The word received.

7. Examples to others.

8,9. ‘For’ The word from Not only. e But also. f  What manner.

9,10. Turned to God. Serve God. Wait for His Son from heaven.

Let us look at the epistle as a whole.

1 Thessalonians

A 1:3. The patience of hope.

B 1:10. Waiting for God’s Son. ‘Wrath’.

C 2:19. Servant’s joy at Lord’s coming. ‘Our’.

D 3:13. Lord’s coming with holy ones (angels).

4:15,16. Lord’s coming with shout (archangel).

5:2,3. World’s sorrow at Lord’s coming. ‘They’.

B 5:8,9. The hope of salvation. ‘Wrath’.

5:23. Preserve blameless.

It will be seen by comparing 1:10 with 5:8,9 that deliverance from wrath by the coming of God’s Son from heaven constituted the believer’s helmet, ‘the hope of salvation’. The reader will remember that the aspect is changed in Ephesians 6 where the helmet is simply the helmet of salvation’. The wrath that hung over the Acts period was closely associated with the day of the Lord and with Israël, for we read in 1 Thessalonians 2:16, that ‘wrath is come upon them to the uttermost’. Those who look at 1 Thessalonians 4 as a revelation as to their hope should consider this association with ‘wrath’, and the archangel’s close link with Israël (Dan. 12:1).

The patience of hope in 1:3 is connected with the Thessalonians’ manifest ‘election’; the ‘preserving blameless’ in 5:23 is connected with their ‘calling’. The reference in verse 23 to the hope of being preserve in spirit, soul and body blameless at the Coming of the Lord has special reference to the hope of living and remaining on the earth at that time. Sanctification is stressed in 4:3-7, but the sanctification here seems to include the preservation of the individual, the word ‘wholly’ being oloteles — ‘completely whole’. It has reference to the preservation expressed in 4:17 as being ‘alive and remaining’ until the Coming of the Lord. This hope of living and remaining until the Coming of the Christ is characteristic of the Acts period; it is warranted by the testimony of Acts 3:19,20 as well as of Matthew 16:27,28 and other passages.

It has often been taught that chapter 5 indicates that ‘times and season’ did not belong to the Thessalonians as members of the church (ecclesia), and that the coming of the Lord for them was unrelated to the day of the Lord or to any time fulfillment of prophecy. We must remember this when we turn to the second epistle, but even in chapter 5 of this epistle we find a very different reason given by the apostle:

  • ‘But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you … ‘ (1 Thess. 5:1).

Why? Because the hope of the church (ecclesia) was unrelated to times and seasons? No; rather for the obvious reason given by the apostle:

  • ‘For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night’ (1 Thess. 5:2).

This does not teach that the Coming of the Lord is to be considered as a ‘secret rapture’. The passage simply states that, unlike the world, proclaiming ‘ peace and safety’ with sudden destruction imminent, the church (ecclesia) was so instructed as to know that the day of the Lord was to come like a thief in the night, and that, knowing this, it would not be ‘overtaken like a thief’. The church (ecclesia) is contrasted with the overtaken’ world just as children of light are contrasted with darkness. They are urged to vigilance and to put on the armour in view of the hope of salvation. This exhortation arises naturally out of the earlier verses as written, but it has no meaning if this church (ecclesia) expected to be taken away before that day had come.

There is an intimate connection which may be easily seen between the close of 1 Thessalonians 4 and the opening of 1 Thessalonians 5. 1 Thessalonians 4:13 opens with the words ‘I would not have you ignorant’, and in verse 2 of chapter 5 the apostle continues, ‘You yourselves know perfectly’. Both sections deal with ‘sleep’ and both end with the thought of ‘comfort’. In 1 Thessalonians 4:14 we read:

  • ‘For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with Him’.

If we interpret this to mean that when the Lord Jesus returns He will bring the saints who have fallen asleep with Him from heaven, what can be the meaning of the next verses, which distinctly teach that the living shall take no precedence over the saints who have died, but that together they shall meet the Lord in the air, and thus only, be for ever ‘with the Lord’? The passage refers to the resurrection: ‘We believe that God will bring — ago — (from the dead) with Him’ (Who was also brought from the dead — anago — Hebrews 13:20). The apostle was ministering the comfort of the Scriptures to those who were sorrowing for the dead in Christ, and his comfort is resurrection at the Lord’s Coming. The actual return of the Lord is described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16:

  • ‘The Lord Himself shall descent from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God’.

We see no reason to teach that the ‘Lord Himself’ is the archangel’ here. We have already seen, in considering the teaching of Jude, that ‘Michael the archangel’ is closely linked with the Lord’s Coming. Moreover Daniel 12:1,2 is a passage which must not be lightly set aside:

  • ‘And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake’.

Now if the archangel of 1 Thessalonians be the Michael of Daniel 12, we have a strong link established between the hope of Israel and the hope of the church (ecclesia) during the Acts. Further links come to light in 2 Thessalonians, but our space is limited, and we may be able to look back to the epistle when dealing with the second letter to the same church (ecclesia).

If it should be asked how it has come about that so many errors have been introduced into the teaching of these epistles, we can only put it down to the fact that as a result of confusing the two dispensations divided by Acts 28, truth gathered from Paul’s later ministry has been brought back into this earlier period.

Unless it had been seriously urged upon us that the teaching of 1 Thessalonians deals with a secret phase of the Lord’s Coming, while that of 2 Thessalonians refers to an aspect very different from the hope of the church (ecclesia), we should not feel it necessary to draw attention to the obvious fact that these two  epistles were written to the same church (ecclesia) upon the same theme, and that there is not the slightest warrant for the strange teaching that they have been used to support.

We have already seen in 1 Thessalonians 1:3 that the apostle remembered the work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope of this church (ecclesia). In 2 Thessalonians 1:3,4 he takes up this same theme:

  • ‘We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is meet, because that your faith groweth exceedingly, and the charity (love) of every one of you all toward each other aboundeth; so that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure’.

This church (ecclesia) had received the word in tribulation (1 Thess. 1:6), and in every place their faith had gone forth. In 2 Thessalonians this tribulation had continued. And the churches of God had heard of the Thessalonians’ attitude through the apostle’s boasting concerning them. In each of the four qualities, faith, love, hope and patience, these saints had grown. Yet we are asked by some teachers to believe that a special secret rapture awaited 1 Thessalonians’ believers, while the believers of the second epistle were to pass through the tribulation of the day of the Lord and experience the sufferings of the reign of the beast!

While it may be easy at this distance to settle the hopes of the early saints, it would have proved more difficult to have persuaded the Thessalonians themselves by such illogical deduction. The process of reasoning seems to be somewhat as follows: 1 Thessalonians 4 must be a secret rapture, and so 1 Thessalonians 5 can have no connection with times and seasons, or with the day of the Lord. 2 Thessalonians, however, speaks of the coming of the Lord as not taking place until after the manifestation of the man of sin, and of the coming of the Lord in flaming fire. It is therefore assumed that the coming of 1 Thessalonians 4 takes place before the rise of the man of sin, and the coming of 2 Thessalonians after that manifestation.

The recognition that the true ‘secret rapture’ belongs to the prison ministry of the apostle (Col. 3:1-4), set us free from this vain attempt to find the hope of the One body in the earlier epistles. The saints, sorrowing for those who have fallen asleep, are comforted by the fact that they, together with those who have fallen asleep, and at the same time, shall meet the Lord in the air. The same saints in their sorrow on account of their own tribulation through which they are passing, are comforted by the fact that ‘rest’ shall be theirs:

  • ‘When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God’ (2 Thess. 1:7,8).

It was of this same event that the apostle had written in 1 Thessalonians 3:13:

  • ‘To the end He may established your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His holy ones (angels)’ (author’s translation).

And in verse 2 the apostle speaks of sending Timothy to comfort them — ‘that no man should be moved by these tribulations’ (3:3).

We have not to rest our faith merely upon deduction, comparison and inference, for in 2 Thessalonians 2:1,2 the apostle declares that those who were spreading abroad the teaching that the day of the Lord was at hand, were false teachers, speaking the doctrine of demons:

  • ‘Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto Him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by SPIRIT, nor by WORD, nor by LETTER as from us, as that the day of Christ (or of the Lord) is at hand’ (2 Thess. 2:1,2).

This was a threefold attempt to deceive. The words ‘by spirit’ refer to the miraculous gifts in the church, which being travestied by Satan, required to be ‘tried’ to see that they were ‘of God’. The evil is countered in this chapter by that sanctification of ‘the Spirit’ that is associated with ‘belief of the truth’ (2:13).

‘By word’ refers to the method of passing on the instruction. The apostle, at the close of chapter 2, reminds them of the source of authority:

  • ‘Hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle’ (2 Thess. 2:15).

And in 3:17 he pointedly refers to the false ‘epistle’:

  • ‘The salutation of Paul with mine own hand, which is the token in every epistle: so I write‘.

Returning to chapter 2, we find that the apostle declares that a series of prophetic events must taken place before the Lord’s Coming:

  1. The apostasy must come, for such is the word ‘falling away’.
  2. The man of sin must be revealed.
  3. The revelation of the wicked One must take place.
  4. This will be preceded by great Satanic signs, and wonders and lying miracles.

When these things have come to pass, then only will the Coming of the Lord take place:

  • ‘Whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming’ (2 Thess. 2:8).

This takes us back to the first chapter, unless we are to understand that upon two separate occasions the Lord shall be revealed in flaming fire taking vengeance. As we have no warrant for this suggestion, we conclude that the ‘tribulation’ from which these believers should find ‘rest’ at the Coming of the Lord is the tribulation connected with the ‘man of sin’ of chapter 2. This tribulation is ‘such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be’ (Matt. 24:21). This unparalleled intensity of tribulation irresistible takes us back to Daniel 12, where Michael the archangel is linked with a time of trouble ‘such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time’. Unless we can believe the contradiction of two unprecedented times of trouble, 1 Thessalonians 4 and 2 Thessalonians 1 and 2 must be inseparable and refer to one event. This being so, the hope of 1 and 2 Thessalonians coincides with that of Matthew 24, for we have the same events foretold in each case:

  1. The desolation in the holy place (Matt. 24:15 and 2 Thess. 2:4).
  2. The great tribulation (Matt. 24:21 and 2 Thess. 1:6,7; Dan. 12:1).
  3. The false Christ and false prophets (Matt. 24:24 and 2 Thess. 2:3-8).
  4. The great signs and miracles (Matt. 24:24 and 2 Thess. 2:9,10).
  5. The brightness of His coming (Matt. 24:27 and 2 Thess. 1:8; 2:8).
  6. The Coming of the Lord after the tribulation, and the ‘gathering’ of His ‘elect’ (Matt. 24:29-31; 2 Thess. 2:1) (episunago).
  7. The angels and the trumpet (Matt. 24:31; 1 Thess. 4:16; 3:13; 2 Thess. 1:7).
  8. The parable of the fig tree ‘When ye see … it is near’ (Matt. 24:32,33; 2 Thess. 2:1-9).

The attempt to divorce the hope of Israel from that of the church of the Acts fails completely. No attempt to do so would have been made if it had been recognize that the church (ecclesia) of the One Body came into being after Acts 28. The church (ecclesia) at Thessalonica held the teaching of Matthew 24 and Daniel 12 as their own, and knew that their hope will find its setting amid the ‘blood and fire and pillars of smoke’ of the Pentecostal remnant. This leads us to the day of the Lord, the great unveiling, and the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ.

We conclude this survey, omitting some epistles, the book of the Revelation, and Paul’s prison epistles, by considering the testimony of the epistle to the Romans. We shall not find in it the precision of 1 Thessalonians 4 because the hope was by time well taught and believed. Instead, we have references to the various accompaniments of the Lord’s Coming, these being necessary to complete the body of truth.

The seven passage in Romans

Seven passage in the epistle refer to the coming of the Lord, or to some event that necessitates it. These passages taken together form a complete whole:

A 2:1-16. Jew and Gentile. Reward and punishment.

B 8:17-25. Deliverance from bondage of the creature.

C 11:26. The Deliverer. Isa. 59:20 quoted.

D 13:11-14.  Salvation nearer than when we believed.

14:9-12. The Judge. Isa. 45:23 quoted.

15:12,,13. Jew and Gentile. The hope.

16:20. Satan bruised shortly.

Jew and Gentile

The first passage is one of judgment, and the judgment yet to come: ‘The day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God’ (Rom. 2:5). This judgment of God administered by the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel’ (Rom. 2:16). Jew and Gentile are in view in this passage, but there is appended the statement that ‘there is no respect of person with God’ (Rom. 2:11).

The parallel passage of Romans 15:12,13 brings Jew and Gentile together in hope. The force of this passage is blunted in the Authorized by the rendering of the word ‘hope’ in verse 12 by the word ‘trust’. The passage should read:

  • ‘There shall be a Root of Jesse, and He that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles: in Him shall the Gentiles HOPE (elpizo);now the God of HOPE (elpis) fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in the HOPE, through the power of the Holy Ghost’.

The argument of chapter 2 is that the Jew, equally with the Gentile, shall be judged; the argument of chapter 15 is that the Gentile, equally with the Jew, shares in the hope brought in by the ‘Root of Jesse’.

The creature (Romans 8)

Here we have Jew and Gentile, and deal with the creature as such. In Romans 5:12 Adam is introduced, and from that verse to the end of chapter 8 we are dealing with deeper issues than those connected with either Gentile or Jew, considered separately. Here we find suffering endured in view of glory:

  • ‘The glory that shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the revelation (apokalupsis) of the sons of God’ (Rom. 8:18,19 author’s translation).

This revelation of the sons of God awaits resurrection, when:

  • ‘The creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God … waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body’ (Rom. 8:21-23 author’s translation).

This ‘salvation by hope’ that looks forward to the complete emancipation of ‘the creature’ and the ‘redemption of the body’, demands such intimate acquaintance with the arguments of chapters 5,6 and 7 that we leave this passage also for closer study indue course. For the moment the one thing that concerns us is the gathering up of the varied items in Romans that illuminate the doctrine of the Lord’s Coming.

With this passage that goes back to Adam and Eden, it is only natural we should take Romans 16:20, that likewise goes back to the same occasion:

  • ‘The God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet ‘shortly’ (Rom. 16:20).
  • ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel’ (Gen. 3:15).

While in the first instance this prophecy looks to Christ Himself at Calvary, it also looks forward to the Second Coming when all the ‘seed’ shall have entered by ‘adoption’ into their glorious portion. Romans 8 and 16 deals with phases of the hope that transcend all limitations and dispensational boundaries, and make no difference to the most exclusive presentations of truth as given in the epistles written either before or since Acts 28.

Deliverer and Judge

Romans 11:26 is part of a large section, occupying chapters 9 to 11, which deals with the dispensational position of Israel and the Gentiles. Romans 14:9-12 is is part of a section, occupying the whole of chapter 14 and part of 15. which deals with the particular inter-relationship of Israel and the Gentile, the later being now received and saved by the same Christ. In Romans 11:26 Gentiles are warned that a limit is set to the period of Israël’s blindness: ‘And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob’. The hope of Israël can only be deferred to God’s good time: it can never fail.

A salutary word is given in Romans 14, possibly to the Gentile believer in his new-found liberty, wherein he was liable to despice the weaker scruples of his Hebrew brother:

  • ‘But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ’ (Rom. 14:10).

That judgment seat will be set up at the coming of the Lord, and is in view in 1 John 2:28 and other similar passages. It remains therefore to heed Romans 13:11-14:

  • ‘It is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, THE DAY is AT HAND: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light’.

Whether it be Peter (2 Pet. 3:11), James (Jas. 5:7) John (1 John 3:1-3), or Paul (Rom. 13:11-14), all agree in the moral issue, the practical outcome of the doctrine of the Lord’s Coming, viz., ‘Be ye also ready‘.

We now briefly consider the teaching of the Epistles of the Mystery written after Acts 28, when Israël’s hope was suspended, and they became lo-ammi ‘not My people’.

One thing at least has been established by this study, that the doctrine of the Second Coming is not by any means peculiar to the New Testament. Indeed it has been forced upon us by the sheer weight of the available evidence that there is not one New Testament reference to the Second Coming yet noticed, that is not either a quotation from the Old Testament or an expansion of its teaching. The reader may find profitable study in traversing the ground already covered to discover the Old Testament links. They are manifestly on the surface in Matthew 24 and the Apocalypse. 1 Thessalonians 4:16,17 is not a new revelation; the mystery mentioned in 1 Corinthians 15:51 relates, not to the Coming of the Lord, but to the ‘change’ of the living believer at His Coming; and the mystery of Romans 11:25 refers, not to the Coming of the Deliverer, but to the duration of Israel’s blindness.

The one hope of your calling

If the prison epistles belong to the same dispensation as that which obtains throughout the rest of the New Testament, or even in that part of it which follows the Gospels, then the hope will be the same, and will be expressed in similar terms. It will take place at the same time, in similar circumstances, and in the same sphere. There need be no mystery about our quest here; we have but to ‘search and see’. While it is true that spiritual things can only be spiritually discerned, it is also true that the spirit of wisdom and revelation is not needed to count the number of times the parousia is mentioned in Ephesians, or to determine whether or not the archangel’s voice is said to arouse the members of the One Body.

In Ephesians 1:17-23 we have a wonderful prayer recorded. It was in the first instance the prayer of the apostle Paul for the Ephesians saints, and he prays for nothing less than the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge (or acknowledgment) of ‘Him’ — either of Him (the Lord) or of it (the mystery) or probably of both, for they are inseparable (Col. 2:2 R.V.). This spirit of revelation is, in the first instance, that ‘ye may know what is the hope of His calling’. Now if the hope before the Ephesians had been already expounded in Paul’s earlier epistles and public ministry, why should teaching cease at Ephesians 1:16 and prayer for revelation commence? The prayer includes three subjects, two of which are confessedly new:

  • ‘The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints’ and ‘The exceeding greatness of His power to us-ward who believe … when He raised Him from the dead … far above all’ (Eph. 1:18-21).

The hope of His calling forms one of the seven features in the unity of the Spirit given in Ephesians 4, where it is called ‘the hope of your calling’. This one hope cannot be severed from the ‘one body’ and the ‘one Spirit’, for they are linked by the words ‘even as ye are called — in one hope of your calling’. 

There is no actual mention of the Second Coming of the Lord in Ephesians, but one or two statements are given that look forward to the end, and we must consider the evidence which they provide. ‘The dispensation of the fulness of times’ when all things shall be gathered up in Christ, whether things in heaven or in earth, may refer to the great consummation towards which the purpose of the ages moves, but if it does, nothing is said as to the Lord’s Coming from heaven to earth.

The prior hope

In Ephesians 1:12 we read: ‘that we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ’. The word for ‘first trusted’ is, in the original, proelpizo, and does not occur elsewhere in either the New Testament, or the LXX — its literal meaning is ‘pre-hoped’, if we could tolerate so un-English a word. The passage is in correspondence with the words of verse 6 as shown in the structure:

Eph. 1:5,6.

A Predestinated as children.

B According to the good pleasure of his will.

C To the praise of the glory of His grace.

Highly favoured in the Beloved.

Eph. 1:11,12.

Predestinated as children.

According to purpose … will.

To praise of His glory.

D Who forehoped in Christ.

Pro in composition indicates either placetime, or preference. Instances of the third meaning are found in Romans 3:9 and 12:10: ‘are we better that they?’ and ‘in honour preferring one another’. And this meaning harmonizes with the parallel, ‘highly favoured’, of verse 6. The hope of Ephesians is ‘prior’ not only and not so much in the sense of time, although this is undoubtedly true, but rather in the sense of high favour and dignity — indeed, it is to be enjoyed ‘far above all principality’. ‘The exceeding riches of His grace’ follow closely upon the statement of our being ‘made to sit together in the heavenlies in Christ Jesus’ (Eph. 2:6,7).

It must be acknowledge that positive teaching concerning the Second Coming of the Lord does not enter into the revelation of the Mystery in this epistle. If, however, we believe that ‘the hope of Israël’ was entertained by the apostle up to the time of his visit to Rome and his all-day conference with the leaders of the Jews there, then we are faced with two alternatives: either we must believe that the one hope concerning which the apostle prayed so deeply in Ephesian 1 was a hope known to all familiar with those Old Testament passages consider in this series, or we must believe that with the revelation of the Mystery was made known a new and corresponding hope. If the latter of these alternatives is not true, then the character of our hope is not, after all, distinctive or unique, and our calling, associated with a Mystery hitherto unrevealed (Eph. 3) and a sphere and period hitherto unknown (Eph. 1:3,4) has no corresponding hope. But such is not the case; our hope and our calling are in harmony.

The Mystery that fills up the Word of God ‘The hope of glory’ (Colossians)

It will be remembered that in writing to both the Thessalonians and the Corinthians, the apostle brings together in very vital connection ‘faith, hope and love’. This blessed trio is found both in Ephesians and Colossians. In Ephesians we read:

  • ‘That we should be to the praise of His glory, who had a prior hope in Christ … after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints’ (Eph. 1:12-15 author’s translation).

The passage in Colossians is somewhat similar, the order, however, being reversed and hope mentioned last:

  • ‘We give thanks … since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have unto all the saints, on account of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel … in all the world’ (Col. 1:3-6 author’s translation).

The subject that receives the fullest attention in this passage is ‘the hope’. Let us note the various items in its definition:

  1. It is laid up in heaven.
  2. It formed part of the ‘word of the truth of the gospel’.
  3. Which had all the world in view.

A superficial reading has led some to make of this passage a close parallel with 1 Peter 1:4: ‘An inheritance … reserved in heaven for you’. The words ‘reserve’ and ‘lay up’ however, are different, and the occasion when this inheritance is entered is very different also. ‘To lay up’ is the translation of apokeimai, which occurs four times in the New Testament:

  • ‘Here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin’ (Luke 19:20).
  • ‘The hope which is laid up for you in heaven’ (Col. 1:5).
  • ‘Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness’ (2 Tim. 4:8).
  • ‘As it is appointed unto men once to die’ (Heb. 9:27).

The first occurrence, a non-doctrinal usage, gives the elementary meaning of the word, ‘laid up as in a napkin’. The parallel passage (Matt. 25:18) indicates that this man ‘went and digged in the earth, and hid (apokrupto) his lord’s money’.

We are already acquainted with the fact that the Mystery as revealed in Ephesians and Colossians is said to have been ‘hidden’ from ages and generations (Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:9), and that the very life of the members of the One Body is said to be ‘hid’ with Christ in God, so that a hope ‘laid up’ as a talent in a napkin is in harmony with a life ‘hid’ and a mystery hitherto unrevealed.

This hope is laid up ‘in heaven’. In one sense this is true of all blessings, for ‘every good and every perfect gift cometh from above’, but it is not true that every blessing will be enjoyed ‘in heaven’. Some will be enjoyed on earth, and some in the new Jerusalem. Those blessings that are not only heavenly in character, but which can only be enjoyed ‘in the heavenly places far above all’, are those which pertain to the high calling of the mystery.

This special hope was made known to the Colossians by ‘the word of the true of the gospel’, an expression so in line with Ephesians 1:13 as to be an ‘intentional reference to the same thing. Let us put them together:

  • ‘Who had a prior hope in Christ, in Whom, ye also, upon hearing THE WORD OF TRUTH, THE GOSPEL of your salvation … having believed, were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise’ (Eph. 1:12,13 author’s translation).

‘For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in THE WORD OF THE TRUTH OF THE GOSPEL; which … bringeth forth fruit … your love in the spirit’ (Col. 1:5-8).

This gospel had come unto the Colossians and all the world. The word ‘come’ does not imply that when the apostle wrote these words the gospel referred to had actually been ‘preached’ in all the world. The word ‘come’ is parontos, a participle of the verb pareimi, ‘to be beside’, which also supplies us with the more familiar parousia, which means the actual, personal, presence of the Lord.

Peter, it will be remembered, emphasized that which he called ‘present truth’ in 2 Peter 1:12, which had in view the Coming of the Lord as the day-star of Old Testament prophecy (2 Pet. 1:16-21). That phase of truth was ‘present’ or, as we sometimes say, ‘obtained’, for those to whom Paul ministers in these prison epistles. This is ‘the present true’ for us, and just as Peter prayed that his hearers might be established in the present truth, so likewise Paul prayed (Col. 1:28). What we do well to remember is that a redeemed Israëlite, called under the dispensation ministered by Peter, could not be ‘established’ in truth that belonged to members of the One body; it would not be present truth to him. And just in the same way, the members of the One body cannot be established in truth outside that which is present to them, but only in that which has to do with the high calling of the Mystery.

The apostle expands this idea of ‘present truth’ in the same chapter. After claiming the ministry of the One Body as something very exclusively his own, by reason of a dispensation given to him by God, ‘even the mystery’ hitherto hidden from the ages and generations, he proceeds:

  • ‘But now is made manifest to His saints (see “all saints” in 1:4): to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery (see Eph. 1:18: “The hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints”), among the Gentiles (see Col. 1:6: “Unto you and all the world”); which is Christ in (among) you, the hope of glory’ (Col. 1:26,27).

The very fact that, in spite of the setting aside of Israel, and in spite of the cessation of supernatural gifts, Christ could be preached ‘among the Gentiles’ necessitated some basis other than that given in earlier Scriptures. For, where, apart from the Mystery epistles, can we find warrant for going with a message of supernatural grace and glory to Gentiles, independently of Israel, the New Covenant, and the promises made to Abraham? Neither Israël, the New Covenant, nor the promises to Abraham enter into the gospel and hope of the church (ecclesia) which is His body.

The third chapter contains a further statement concerning our hope:

  • ‘When Christ, Who is our life, shall be made manifest, then shall ye also be made manifest with Him IN GLORY’ (Col. 3:4 author’s translation).

With this passage we should read Titus 2:13.

His appearing (2 Timothy)

Colossians 3:4 and Titus 2:13 have two features in common which are specially connected with the hope of the Mystery.

The first is the word ‘appearing’; the second the word ‘glory’. In Colossians 3:4 ‘appear’ in the original is phaneroo, and in Titus 2:13 it is the cognate word epiphaneia. Before Acts 28 Paul uses the two words parousia and apokalupsis (‘coming’ and ‘revelation’) when speaking of the Lord’s Coming, using epiphaneia once when speaking of the ‘brightness’ of the parousia (2 Thess. 2:8). After Acts 28 he never again uses either of the words parousia or apokalupsis to define the Second Coming of the Lord, but takes up and uses the word epiphaneia. The very distinction of terms is eloquent. If the inspired apostle thus indicates a difference by the marked way he uses the terms, it is for us, if we really believe God’s Word, to acknowledge the difference and approve the things that are more excellent.

Epiphaneia occurs in Paul’s epistles after Acts 28 as follows:

  • ‘Keep … until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ’ (1 Tim. 6:4).
  • ‘The appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Tim. 1:10).
  • ‘The Lord Jesus Christ, Who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom’ (2 Tim. 4:1).
  • ‘Them also that love His appearing‘ (2 Tim. 4:8).
  • ‘The glorious appearing of the great God’ (Titus 2:13).

The first reference in 2 Timothy does not relate to the Second Coming, which leaves us four passages. This ‘appearing’ was the object, not only of the apostle’s hope, but also of his love. He speaks of a crown of righteousness which shall be given not to himself only, but also to all those who have loved His appearing. That this love is most practical, is evident by reading the verses that follow. In direct contrast with those who ‘have loved His appearing’ is the pitiable example of Demas, who forsook the apostle — ‘having loved this present age’.

There are some who put the doctrine of the Second Coming aside as being most impracticable teaching, and likely to breed a company of mere dreamers. 2 Timothy 4 reveals that this is far from the true, and Titus 2 is most positive in its teaching concerning the practical value of the hope of the Church (ecclesia).

Titus 2 gives words of practical instruction to old and young; men and women. Servants, or more strictly speaking slaves, are exhorted to ‘adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things’, and this practical exhortation is emphasized by the passage with the hope of the church (ecclesia):

  • ‘For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 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, zealous of good works’ (Titus 2:11-14).

The gist of this passage appears to be that the grace of God not only saves, but teaches us how to live subsequently, and that new life is expressed negatively by the denial of worldly lusts, and positively by righteousness, which, in its turn, is further expanded by placing in contrast ‘this present world’ and ‘the glorious appearing’, as in 2 Timothy 4:8-10.

The simple sentence shorn of all explanatory matter is — ‘the grace of God teaches us that we should live looking‘. This is in marked contrast with 2 Timothy 4 where Demas ‘loved this present age’. Here we are taught how to live ‘in this present age’. Demas is contrasted with those who ‘love His appearing’; here the true life in this present age is characterized by ‘looking for … the appearing’. The words ‘glorious appearing’ should read ‘the appearing of the glory’. It will be remembered that in Colossians 1:27 we found that the preaching of Christ among the Gentiles during this parenthetical period (‘to fill up the Word of God’, Col. 1:25) was pledge of their hope of glory, and that when Christ, Who is our life, shall be made manifest, then we also, shall be made manifest with Him in glory. So it it with Titus 2:13, ‘the Blessed Hope’ is the manifestation of the glory. When hope is realized, then that which has only seen partially enjoyed ‘by faith’ will be entered in reality. Even now ‘by faith’ we are raised together and made to sit together in the heavenlies: then, when hope is realized, we shall sit there in reality.

It would not be a realization of my calling to find myself in the millennial kingdom, however blessed and far beyond all merit such a lot would be. It would not be realization of my calling to find myself, for any possible reason, occupying one of the twelve thrones of the apostles. No, my faith has received the testimony of God concerning this dispensation of the Mystery, and the hope of that calling can only be realized ‘far above all’. At present the Lord Jesus waits until the time appointed shall come. Before He descends with all His angels, to take the kingdom and reign, He will be made manifest ‘in glory’.

There will be a moment which will be ‘the manifestation of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ’. When that takes place, every member of the blessed company that constitutes ‘the church (ecclesia) which is His Body’ shall be made manifest with Him in (that) glory’. How do they get there? We are not told, and some questions of a similar nature are not  answer (1 Cor. 15:35). No one, whatever be his calling, can enter into the realization of it apart from resurrection, but whatever the resurrection of this church (ecclesia) will be individual or collective, visible or invisible, is not revealed. The church (ecclesia) of the Mystery is not numbered among the denominations of Christendom. Its sudden cessation would have no effect upon the religious world. Its inception, its course, and its conclusion, are alike secret. Some will hear the archangel’s voice, some will hear the last trump; but not so the church (ecclesia) of the One Body. Before the archangel speaks, or that last trump shall have sounded, every member of this company shall have been manifested with Him in glory’.

We have not included Philippians 3:20 in our study, believing that there the apostle deals with the prize of the high calling and not its hope. We mention this in case our readers should think that it had been overlooked. This ‘blessed hope’ is unconnected with signs of the times, except that as we see on the horizon the gathering together of events prophesied in Scripture, we know that our own hope is nearer. If only we could just ‘live … looking’, this present age would have no hold upon us; we should indeed ‘love his appearing’.

We have now given the doctrine of the Lord’s Coming a survey, in which, though we have had to pass over many interesting details, we have not consciously omitted any item importance. Apart from the hope of the One Body, the whole doctrine of both Old and New Testaments on this subject is one and indivisible. While we dare not attempt to decide for others what constitutes their hope, it is plain to ourselves that 1 Thessalonians 4 is not the blessed hope of Titus or of Colossians 1 and 3.

Here we must take leave of the subject, and in closing return to the point from which we commenced. The Second coming of the Lord, as generally received, is not the theme of the prison epistles, and as their peculiar message is the basis of our testimony, the absence of that doctrine from the pages of The Berean Expositor in the past can be easily understood. We do, however, entirely endorse the teaching that the world can never grow better apart from the personal presence of the Lord, neither can the great and precious promises to Israël, the nations, or creation itself, be realized apart from his return. All this is true, without altering our own sphere of blessing and hope. Though different companies of the redeemed have as their respective hopes varying phases of the Lord’s manifestation, differing as greatly as the hope of those whose inheritance is found ‘above all principality’ differs from that of those meek ones who shall ‘inherit the earth’, nevertheless all — Kingdom, Church, Body or Bride — are united in the one blessed fact that the Lord Himself is their hope. Let us ‘live … looking’.

Out: An Alphabetical Analysis / Prophetic Truth / By Charles H. Welch

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THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON:

www.bereanonline.org

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www.levendwater.org / Bediening van het Geheimenis … Efeze 3:9

www.everread.nl / Doe je graag Bijbelstudie?

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Dagelijks nieuws uit het Midden-Oosten:

www.israeltoday.nl

www.wimjongman.nl

www.cidi.nl

www.franklinterhorst.nl

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ISRAEL: / USA:

www.timesofisrael.com

www.ynetnews.com

www.israelnationalnews.com

www.iltv.tv

www.foxnews.com

www.breitbart.com

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DE WEG:

www.hadderech.nl

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 

 

 

 

 Posted by at 16:44
Aug 212018
 

Some of the subjects dealt with in this article have been given a fuller consideration under separate headings. We believe, however, that the presentation of the truth concerning a number of features that are peculiar to the Millennium in one article will be welcome, and that the preservation of the pamphlet called forth by the controversial points that had been raised in some quarters, justifies its place in this Analysis. In one or two places it has been revised.

We have doubtless heard of the little old lady who drew such comfort from ‘that blessed word MESOPOTAMIA’, and have passed it over with an indulgent smile. Yet we all seem to have been bewitched by the word Millennium, for no such term is found in Scripture. The word has passed beyond the confines of Scriptural exegesis, to the world outside, so that a Member of Parliament may dismiss a suggestion as ‘thinking we can bring about the Millennium!’

‘All engineering commences on the drawing board’. A moment’s reflection will show how sane this observation really is. If only expositors of the Scriptures would get the overall plan of Prophecy before them, and then see how far their theories fit or fail, what a deal of trouble, misunderstanding and false teaching would have been spared.

The reader will perceive that this principle is before our mental vision in all the attempts in this analysis to piece the intricate subjects of Prophecy together. For example, we were at first attracted by the teaching known as ‘The Pre-Millennium Kingdom’ but before committing ourselves we took it to the Drawing Board, in other words, looked at the overall picture of Gentile dominion in Daniel 2. We defy anyone to find a loophole for any such kingdom in verses 44,45 and so, in spite of the claims of friendship and sincere admiration, that pleasant vision had to be set aside. We hope that every of our readers will do the same with every suggestion made in this Analysis, for it is, alas, only too possible that we have a clearer view of the errors of others than of our own.

The Key Passage

It is time we rubbed our eyes, took off the spectacles that prophetic students have supplied, and exercised the Berean spirit, which is so highly commended in the Word of God. All that is positively stated in the Scriptures on the subject will be found in TEN VERSES of Revelation 20; all other descriptions, promises, characteristics, are introduced into this period by inference, rightly or wrongly, but by inference only. Books of the Millennium pay little attention to the actual wording of Revelation 20:1-10, but expatiate and enlarge upon peace and prosperity, with superlatives that find no warrant in the key passage of Revelation 20.

We have moreover, by continually speaking of ‘The Millennial kingdom’, unwittingly limited the Reign of Christ to a thousand years; whereas a true statement would speak of that period as ‘the first thousand years of a kingdom, which commencing with the coming of Christ and the end of Gentile dominion, goes unbroken (it shall never be destroyed, and shall never pass away, Dan. 2:44; 7:14,27) until the Son having put all things under His feet (for He must reign” until this is accomplished 1 Cor. 15:25,26 which reaches to the Great White Throne judgment and beyond), delivers up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all’. This is the reign of Christ, the Millennial reign being but a portion of it, and possibly a small portion at  that. All that the Scriptures SAY in Revelation 20 about a Millennium are the words ta chilia ete, ‘the thousand years’.

The Thousand Years

These words are in themselves no more ‘blessed’ than the word ‘Mesopotamia’. They may be a thousand years of misery for all that this term ‘Millennium’ teaches. Some of us have come to our conclusion as to the character of this Millennial kingdom only by ignoring what is actually written in the Apocalypse. The prophetic clock does not automatically stop at the end of the thousand years; what does come to an end is the reign of the OVERCOMERS. ‘The King of kings’ does not abdicate. The day of the Lord is to be succeeded by the day of God, just as the Davidic kingdom, characterized by the presence of the enemy of war, was succeeded by the Solomonic kingdom of Peace. It is too much to ask the reader, with these challenging statements before him, to lay aside for the time being at least, whatever he may have held and taught, and approach this important subject afresh? We turn therefore to the key passage:

  • ‘And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, and cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. And I saw thrones, an they sat upon them. and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the Beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived  and reigned with Christ a thousand years. But the rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years. And when the thousand years are expired, Satan shall be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle: the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them. And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever’  (Revelation 20:1-10).

The Three R’s

Three features stand out in this record:

  1. The Restraint of Satan.
  2. The Reign of the overcomer.
  3. The Rebellion at the close.

Here are three R’s that are fundamental and ignored at our peril. Satan is only loosed for ‘a little season’ yet the response to his deception is immediate: ‘they went up’. The objection, that this is beyond the Millennium, is invalid. What takes place in 1968 is intimately connected with what was done and thought in 1967. The nations who are thus deceived are differentiated from the people of Israël. The nations are called Gog and Magog, and inhabit the four quarters or corners of the earth, whereas Israël, we must assume, occupy the beloved city and form the camp of the saints (Rev. 20:9). The anti-christian character of this rebellion in spite of the intervening thousand years, is indicated by the titles Gog and Magog. The writer of the Apocalypse assumes acquaintance with Ezekiel.

Gog and Magog, Used With Intention

  • ‘Son of Man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him’ (Ezek. 38:2).

In association with Gog and Magog, are Persia, Ethiopia, Libya, Gomer and all his bands, the house of Togarmah of the north quarters and all his bands; and many people with thee (Ezek. 38:5,6). This invasion by these hordes will be met by the Lord Himself.

  • ‘I will turn thee back, and put hooks into thy jaws’ (Ezek. 38:4).
  • ‘It shall come to pass at the same time when Gog shall come against the land of Israël, saith the Lord GOD, that My fury shall come up in My face’ (Ezek. 38:18).
  • ‘Thou shalt fall upon the mountains of Israël, thou, and all thy bands, and the people that is with thee: I will give thee unto the ravenous birds of every sort, and to the beast of the field to be devoured … And I will send a fire on Magog’ (Ezek. 39:4,6).
  • ‘I will give unto Gog a place there of graves in Israël … and seven months shall the house of Israël be burying of them’ (Ezek. 39:11,12).
  • ‘Speak unto every feathered fowl, and to every beast of the field, Assemble yourselves, and come … ye shall eat the flesh of the mighty, and drink the blood of the princes’ (Ezek. 39:17,18).

The parallel of this passage with Revelation 19:17-21 is INESCAPABLE. There again we have the call to the fowls to eat the flesh of captains and kings. Here the warring hosts are gathered by the Beast who is cast into the lake of fire.

The ‘Millennium’ is bounded on each side by an invading army, led either by the Beast or deceived by Satan, either gathered against ‘Him that sat on the horse’ or ‘against the beloved city and camp of the saints’ and both end in fire, being destroyed as were the cities of Sodom and Gomorra. If only a handful of rebels were discovered at the close of the thousand years, it would cause us to question the idea of universal peace or righteousness, but this is no ‘handful’. The number is said to be ‘as the sand of the sea’, nothing but the overriding desire to hold to a personal pre-conception could ever lead a child of God to belittle this description.

Sand of the Sea – Numberless

From the blessing of Abraham in Genesis 22:17 to Hosea 1:10 this figure is used consistently:

  • ‘Yet the number of the children of Israël shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be MEASURED nor NUMBERED’ (Hos. 1:10).

This unnumbered host with anti-christian intent go up ‘on the breath of the earth’ and even though this could be limited to the ‘land’ of Israël the implication is obviously the same as in Isaiah 8:8 and Habakkuk 1:8 where the overwhelming nature of the invasion is thereby depicted.

No rhapsody, no poetic phrase, no private interpretation, no wishful thinking can alter the fact, that the ‘Millennium Reign’ ends, as it began, with a terrible rebellion. The Millennium is not the FIRST of a new series, but the LAST of an old one, in which man has been tested under different forms of government, and in every case been found wanting. This Millennial kingdom is the LAST OF DELEGATED authority. David may have reigned on earth as vice-regent, the twelve apostles may have sat on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israël, the over-comers may have reigned as priests of God and of Christ, but all in vain. Christ must put down ALL authority, whether good or bad, and reign alone an supreme if ever the goal of the ages is to be reached.

Characteristics Features

We turn our attention to a fuller series of features that characterize the Millennium, this closing period of man’s probation.

  1. The restraining of Satan.
  2. The restraining of transgression.
  3. The sealing up of sin.
  4. The rule of the rod of iron.
  5. The willing obedience of Israël.
  6. The feigned obedience of many of the nations.

The final weeks of the seventy weeks of Daniel 9 immediately precede the thousand-year reign, and carry into that period the blessings indicated in verse 24. The first thing that will be accomplished when the Seventy Weeks attain their goal is said to be ‘to finish the transgression’ (Dan. 9:24). This translation, however, leaves much to be explained.

Will transgression be ‘finished’ in the sense that it is so completely accounted for by Atonement and Forgiveness, that it will never again raise its head? (Heb. kalah). Will transgression be ‘finished’ in the sense of the Hebrew word shalam? The answer is no, the Hebrew word being kala, which though it resembles the Hebrew kalah must not be confounded with it. Kala is translated as follows:

forbid 1, keep 1, keep back 1, refrain 2, retain 1, shut up 4, withhold 2, be stayed 2, be restrained 2, be stayed 1, and finish 1.

This is not mere opinion but evidence, and evidence which cannot be neglected or denied without spiritual disaster. Be it noted, that the only reference in the Authorized Version that contains the translation ‘finish’ is Daniel 9:24, which the margin corrects by saying ‘or restrain’. The word is used of the imprisonment of Zedekiah and of Jeremiah and the noun forms kele, and beth kele are translated ‘prison’. Daniel 9 does not teach us that when that prophecy is fulfilled transgression will be finished, it will be RESTRAINED or IMPRISONED. This will be also the condition of Satan through the Millennium kingdom, he will be ‘bound’ for a thousand years, but he will by no means be ‘finished’. In like manner, sins will be SEALED UP, as the margin indicates against the reading, ‘to make an end of ‘sins’. The Hebrew word chatham is translated as follows:

seal 16, seal up 6, be sealed 2, mark 1, be stopped 1 and the Chaldaic word in Daniel 6:17 seal.

Proof of Feigned Obedience

We gather from the marginal references in the Authorized Version, that some of the nations will yield ‘feigned obedience’. Is this translation justified? Let us see. The passage under review are Psalms 18:44; 66:3; and 81:15. In the margin, the Authorized Version and the Revised Version read ‘yield feigned obedience’, and the note ‘Hebrew lie‘. Is this marginal interpretation correct? We could refer to such expositors as Perowne, Hengstenberg, Young’s Literal  translation and Rotherham. Rotherham reads, ‘Come CRINGING unto me’. Of course this unanimity among scholars may be but the blind leading the blind, on the other hand they may express the mind of God. There is only one authoritative test, the consistent usage of the word and a frank exhibition of its occurrences. The Hebrew word kachash occurs twenty-eight times, and in no passage other than the three Psalms quoted, and in 2 Samuel 22:45, is it translated ‘submit’. The remaining references are translated as follows:

fail 1, be found liars 1, belie 1, deal falsely 1, deceive 1, deny 5, dissemble 1, fail 2, lie 5, lies 4, lying 1 and leanness 1.

In no passage is it possibly to substitute ‘obedience’ or ‘submit’ in any one of these twenty-four occurrences. If ‘usage’ has any weight, then ‘feigned obedience’ must stand. To deny it is to defy the testimony of Scripture. Deuteronomy 33:29 which employs the Hebrew kachash reads:

  • ‘And thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee’.

The scholarly Lexicon of Brown, Driver and Briggs gives the meaning of kachash:

  • ‘Be disappointing, deceive, fail, grown lean’.

and in reference to the Psalms in question, their note reads:

  • ‘Cringe, come cringing, make a show of obedience’.

The Hebrew Word Kachash is Very Rigid

We cannot sweep aside this unanimous testimony without betraying that ulterior motives are prompting our decision. Further, although the LXX is not infallible, yet surely we must allow Hebrews of that early age to understand their own tongue, at least as well as the best of us today. The LXX uses epseusanto (pseudesthai), ‘they lied’ in Psalm 18:44 and Psalm 81:15 exactly as they do in Deuteronomy 33:29. We believe the candid student will be convinced that the Hebrew kachash is very rigid in its meaning, and cannot be made to favour a period of universal peace and righteousness. To accept the rendering ‘to yield feigned obedience’ shatters the unscriptural dream of The Millennium. That thousand-year reign is not the perfect kingdom on earth.

Psalm 18:44,45 places in correspondence these features:

  • ‘ The strangers shall yield feigned obedience unto me. The strangers shall fade away, and come trembling’ (Author’s translation).

Their submission is false.

Psalm 66:3. The  immediate context refers to the Exodus from Egypt:

  • ‘How terrible art Thou in Thy works! Through the greatness of Thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto Thee … .(wether willingly or unwillingly is not revealed here) He is terrible in His doing toward the children of men. He turned the sea into dry land … . Let not the rebellious exalt themselves’ (Psa. 66:3-7).

Pharaoh is an example of such forced submission.

We learn from Zechariah 14:16-19 that some of the nations will rebel against the command to go up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of tabernacles, yet at the selfsame time and period Israël will be so soundly converted and blessed, that the sacred words, originally limited to the Mitre of the High Priest, namely ‘Holiness unto the Lord’, shall be on the bells of the horses and on the very pots in the kitchen of this blessed kingdom of priests, yet their holy presence does not prevent disobedience rearing its head among the surrounding nations.

The Rule of the Rod of Iron

Another revealing feature is the use of the rod of IRON. It is beside the point to dwell on the meaning of the Greek word rhabdos or its Hebrew equivalent, the word that clamours for consideration is the word IRON. No tender shepherd uses a rod of IRON for the shepherding of his flock, he uses that as a weapon of defence against their enemies, the robber, the lion and the wolf.

Psalm 2:9; Revelation 2:27; 12:5 and 19:15 speak of ‘breaking’ or ‘ruling’ with a rod of IRON, and it is this quality of IRON that demands attention, and if ignored leads to untruth and bondage (2 Tim. 2:25,26). When the prophet would impress us with the terrible nature of the fourth beast of Daniel 7, he speaks of its ‘great IRON teeth’ (Dan. 7:7). In the same way, when the image that symbolizes Gentile dominion is described, it deteriorates from gold to iron, with this comment:

  • ‘Forasmuch as iron breaketh in pieces and subdueth all things: and as iron that breaketh all these, shall it break in pieces and bruise‘ (Dan. 2:40).

That is the inspired comment on iron; ‘it breaks in pieces’, it ‘bruises’, and shall we object to or attempt to correct the language of Holy Writ, without coming under the charge of yielding feigned obedience? Iron is mentioned in the Psalms five times. Apart from Psalm 2 iron is used of fetters and likened to affliction, and the bars of a prison (Psa. 105:18; 107:10,16; 149:8). Iron is introduced into the Scriptures as one of the attempts of the line of Cain to alleviate the curse that had come on the earth (Gen. 4:22). Egypt is likened to ‘an iron furnace’ (Deut. 4:20), and no tool made of iron was permitted to fashion the stones used in building an altar (Deut. 27:5), and a heaven above and an earth beneath likened to iron was a disciplinary judgment (Lev. 26:19; Deut. 28:23). Several times we read of the ‘chariots of iron’ employed by the Canaanites (Josh. 17:16,18; Judg. 1:19; 4:3,13). The question of Jeremiah, ‘Shall iron break the northern iron and the steel?’ (Jer. 15:12) is answered in the Millennium. The rod of iron will do this. The devouring great iron teeth of the Beast, the down treading feet of iron and clay of the image will be met and more than met by the rule of the rod of IRON. The Hebrew word raa to break, is used in Psalm 2:9; Jeremiah 15:12, and its equivalent Chaldaic word in Daniel 2:40. These are facts which no amount of special pleading can set aside. Again let us note the testimony of Psalm 110:

  • ‘The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. The LORD shall send the ROD OF THY STRENGTH out of Zion: rule Thou in the midst of Thine enemies’ (Psa. 110:1,2).

Blessing Radiates from Jerusalem

If the words ‘The LORD said unto My Lord’ undoubtedly refer to Christ (Matt. 22:44), then the objection that the proximity of ‘the Lord’ and ‘His Anointed’ rules out Christ from Psalm 2 is shown to be invalid. Here the Lord is seen ruling not in a world of universal peace, but ‘out of Zion’ and ‘in the midst’ of enemies. At the same time, and at the very same period in which many of the nations will yield feigned obedience, we read:

  • ‘Thy people shall be willing in the day of Thy power’ (Psa. 110:3). ‘Thy people offer themselves willingly’ (margin ‘are freewill offerings’ Revised Version).

Here we have inspired comparison. The nations yielding feigned obedience; Israël, at last, offering willing obedience. This leads on to another feature associated with the fact, namely that the blessing of this Millennial kingdom and afterwards is first of all focused in Jerusalem as a radiating centre, and from that centre light and truth will be spread until the knowledge of the Lord fills the earth, as the waters cover the sea.

  • ‘They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain’,

that is the first statement.

  • ‘For the earth (land) shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isa. 11:9).

that is the sequel. The answer to the rebellion of the kings of the earth is found in Psalm 2:6:

  • ‘Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion’.

Beyond this holy hill the heathen in the uttermost parts are to be disciplined with a rod of iron, and the rebellious kings and judges of the earth are given counsel and warning.

  • ‘Lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little’ (Psa. 2:12).

This divinely appointed centre is the theme of Isaiah 2:

  • ‘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 many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; 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’ (Isa. 2:2,3).

First the rod of His strength shall be sent ‘out of Zionwhere the Lord will rule in the midst of His enemies (Psa. 110:2). He will, as Psalm 2:12 threatened, ‘strike through kings in the day of His wrath’ (Psa. 110:5). After the Lord returns unto Zion, and Jerusalem becomes ‘a city of truth’ (Zech. 8:3), ‘many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of host in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD … In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you’ (Zech. 8:22,23). When the glory returns to Jerusalem and the temple is built according to the specifications given in the closing chapters of Ezekiel, then the title of the Lord will be indeed Jehovah Shammah, ‘The LORD is there’ (Ezek. 48:35).

Rebellion at Close of Millennium

The Millennial kingdom ends as we have seen with a rebellious rising of the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, the number of which is so great as to justify the figure ‘the number of whom is as the sand of the sea’ (Rev. 20:8). Rebellion therefore was incipient during the 1,000 years. No such rebellion will mar the day when 1 Corinthians 15:28 is fulfilled, but that lies beyond the limits of Millennial kingdom and is not spoken of in the Book of the Revelation. We may discover, that much that we have imagined belonged to the Millennium, will prove to belong to the period that follows. The day of the Lord is followed by the day of God, the Sabbath followed by ‘the first or eight day’.

If we keep strictly to the record of Revelation 20 we shall see that the so-called Millennial kingdom is the period when the suffering overcomer who has refused to recognized the Beast or his authority, will ‘live and reign with Christ, a thousand years’, but nothing is said of the bulk of the nation of Israël, except to reveal that there was also on earth at the same time ‘the camp of the saints’ and the ‘beloved city’. To a large extent this phase of the kingdom is God’s answer to the only Pre-Millennial kingdom known in the Apocalypse, namely The Pre-Millennial kingdom of the Beast! When Jerusalem is created a rejoicing and her people a joy, it is then that ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and (yet, at the selfsame time) dust shall be the serpent’s meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saith the LORD’ (Isa. 65:18,19,25).

The reference to the serpent here suggest that the perfect kingdom has not yet arrived, and in line with this, in the midst of this section when ‘as the days of a tree’ shall be the days of His elect (Isa. 65:22), we learn that a ‘child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed’ (Isa. 65:20). While the age of Methuselah is proverbial, and the age of many of the patriarchs of Genesis 1 to 11 approached to the 1,000-year limit, not one ever reached it. ‘The days of a tree’ may mean a thousand years, and for any one in that day to die at a hundred years of age would be like a child dying. The fact, however, that it can be contemplated that a ‘sinner’ should ‘die’ at a hundred years of age or be ‘accursed’ (however difficult may be the true exposition of Isaiah 65:20), makes one thing certain, that the commencement of that period, namely, ‘The new heaven and the new earth’, death will not have been eradicated. It is there in Isaiah 65:20, in Isaiah 66:24 and in Revelation 21:7,8. In addition 1 Corinthians 15:24-28 shows that death persists to the end.

A Summary of Millennial Features

  1. Positive teaching concerning the Millennium is limited to ten verses in Revelation 20. All else is a matter of inference, legitimate possibly, but to be treated with necessary reserve.
  2. The term ‘the Millennium’ is a title chosen by man for the period covered by Revelation 20:1-10, for the word is simply Latin 1,000 years and that is the number of years covered by this prophecy, and expressed six times over, in verses 2,3,4,5,6 and 7. The term however must not be invested with meanings and characteristics that belie or ignore what is written in Revelation 20.
  3. It is correct to speak of this period as a ‘kingdom’, for the overcomers not only ‘live’ but ‘reign’ with Christ a thousand years (Rev. 20:4,6). The Greek word for kingdom is basileia, the Greek word for reign is basileuo.
  4. Strictly speaking the overcomer (Rev. 2:7,11,17,26; 3:5,12,21; 15:2 and 21:7) is the thread that links all the prodigious events of this Prophecy together, and unites both passages under Revelation 3:21 thus:
  • ‘To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne’ (Rev. 3:21).
  • ‘And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had be gotten the victory over the BEAST, and over his IMAGE, and over his MARK, and over the NUMBER of his NAME, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God’ (Rev. 15:2).
  • ‘And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the BEAST, neither his IMAGE, neither had received his MARK upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years’ (Rev. 20:4).

The words of Revelation 20:4, ‘for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God’, form a link with the opening statement of Revelation 1:9,10 when John was taken in spirit to the day of the Lord from the isle called Patmos where he shared the tribulation of these overcomers, before their time ‘for the word of God, and for the witness of Jesus’.

The Pre-eminent Feature

‘The Millennial kingdom’ seems to have been used by writers on prophecy as a convenient period in which to place passages that are somewhat difficult to fit into the overall scheme, and this has blunted the edge of the testimony of Revelation 20, which places as a pre-eminent feature, the reward for the overcomer, and hardly refers to any other company, people or calling. Regarding the statement ‘This is the first resurrection’, it cannot mean the first that has ever was, but the former of two. The reference to the beloved city brings with it the numerous passages of Old Testament prophecy which speak in glowing terms of the restoration of Israël and Jerusalem. Isaiah 54:6-17 reveals a city of jewelled splendour, echoing the glories on earth of the heavenly Jerusalem itself. Even so, the chapter ends with a reference to those who will gather together against Jerusalem, with the comforting words:

  • ‘No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper’ (Isa. 54:17).

even as we have read in Revelation 20:8,9. If the inhabitants of the land during the Millennium are those of Israël who looked upon the Lord Whom they had pierced and repented, if the nations are those who were ‘alive and remained’ at the Second Coming, we have no ‘problem’ about Isaiah 65:18-25, for there we read of the possibility of dying and being accursed, and of the length of life being ‘as the days of a tree’, which however extended, cannot be a synonym for life eternal and certainly not of immortality.

The Overcomer

Let us observe how these ‘overcomers’ of Revelation 20:4 are intertwined with the prophetic revelation of the last days. The rewards held out to the overcomers in the seven churches are:

  1. To eat of the tree of life which is in the midst of the paradise of God (Rev. 2:7).
  2. Not to fear, he shall not be hurt of the second death (Rev. 2:10,11).
  3. He will eat of the hidden manna, have a white stone and a new name (Rev. 2:17, see Rev. 19:12).
  4. He shall rule the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:27).
  5. He shall be clothed in white, and his name shall not be blotted out of the book of life (Rev. 3:5).
  6. He will be made a pillar in the temple, and have the name of the new Jerusalem written upon him (Rev. 3:12).
  7. He will be granted to sit with Christ on His throne, even as Christ also overcame, and is set down with His Father in His throne (Rev. 3:21).

All is linked with the book of the Revelation itself, even as we see that in Revelation 20:4, none live and reign except those who were martyred under the Beast of Revelation 13 to 18.

‘The Millennium kingdom’ is a very exclusive kingdom. We are not told in so many words that Israël is a restored people, we can only infer that from the reference to the beloved city and the camp of the saints. If Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David, have been raised from the dead at this time, they do not enter into the picture drawn in Revelation 20. They have no place in the ‘first resurrection’. The inspired qualification limits this resurrection to martyrs of the last three-and-a-half years of anti-christian Dominion. Two resurrections, and two only, are envisaged here and they form a pair!

  1. The overcomers, every one a martyr. This is ‘the first’ resurrection.
  2. The rest of the dead. No other resurrection takes place until that of the Great White Throne at the end of the thousand years. And these two resurrections complement one another and make a pair – ‘overcomers’ v. ‘the rest’ not ‘saints’ v. ‘the wicked dead’, as is usually taught.

It will be seen, we trust, that so far as the record of Revelation 20 is concerned, the Millennial kingdom is pre-eminently the sphere of reward for those who have suffered unto death during the persecution instituted by the anti-christian Beast of the time of the end. We only learn from that passage that there are ‘nations’ on the earth at the same time, by the reference to the rebellion at the end. We learn as well that the beloved city and the camp of the saints have a place there too, but these are not the theme of the Apocalypse.

Only one resurrection is recorded as taking place in this kingdom, and the names of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David are not even mentioned. We realize that inasmuch as the Millennium is the immediate outcome of the Second Coming of Christ to the earth, all other prophetic features associated with that phase of the coming must find a place here. We learn from other passages that there will be a resurrection of Israël (Dan. 12:1-3 and Ezek. 37:1-4). The too must find a place. It is possible that some prophetic passages refer to the period that follows the Millennium, when the Heavenly Jerusalem shall descend to the earth and be the glorious administrative centre of the earth, for we read that:

  • ‘The nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it … they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Rev. 21:24-27).

The period immediately following the Millennium is marked by five outstanding features:

  1. The rise of Gog and Magog like the sand of the sea, and their destruction.
  2. The casting of the Devil into the lake of fire.
  3. The Great White Throne.
  4. The New Heavens and the New Earth.
  5. The descent of the New Jerusalem.

The former of Two

The resurrection of the overcomers is said to be the ‘first’. ‘When two ordinal numbers are used in such a connection as this, they are used relatively … hence in English we always say, in such cases, former and later‘ (Dr. E.W. Bullinger). The resurrection of the overcomers is the former of two, the resurrection at the Great White Throne being the second or concluding member of the pair. But whoever has heard this Scriptural association even hinted at? We have been too ready to look at the Great White Throne as the judgment of the wicked dead or of the untold millions who never heard of Christ, and by so doing we have separated what God has joined together. However, merely saying this proves nothing; ‘to the law’ and the ‘testimony’. Here is the sequel to the statement of Revelation 20:4.

  • ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection (i.e. the former of the two): on such the SECOND DEATH (i.e. connected with the second resurrection of the two) hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a thousand years’ (Rev. 20:6).

Whoever heard of any one comparing and contrasting the being ‘Priests’ of God, with the character and fate of those who stand before the Great White Throne? What congruity is there in saying:

  • ‘Either they will be overcomers, and reigning Priests’ or they will be ‘the countless millions of wicked dead, multitudes of whom never heard the name of Christ?’

Yet John, writing Revelation 20:6, does not appear to have any qualms. If the Great White Throne judgments deals with the mass of mankind, what need was there to assure these overcomers that the second death had no power over them? The second death as generally interpreted can have no power over any saved sinner, let alone over an OVERCOMER. What this passage actually does is to put in opposition:

The second death, and reigning with Christ.

The apostle writing to Timothy said:

  • ‘It is a faithful saying: For:

A ‘If we be dead (died) with Him, we shall also LIVE with Him:

B ‘If we suffer, we shall also REIGN with Him: If we deny Him, He also will deny us:

A ‘If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful: He cannot deny Himself’ (2 Tim. 2:11-13).

A similar discrimination is found in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. A believer can ‘suffer loss’ but he himself cannot be LOST.

The seven Churches

Let us turn to the exhortation given to the churches of Revelation 2 and 3. Look at the Church of Smyrna. Not one word of rebuke or censure is given, but an exhortation to remain faithful until death with the promise ‘I will give thee a crown of life’. An in addition to the overcomer, the Saviour adds:

  • ‘He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death’ (Rev. 2:10,11).

Can anyone who holds the generally accepted view of the Great White Throne, explain how it is possible to bring together the assurance of the CROWN of life, an exemption from the SECOND DEATH? They have no common ground. The writer of these lines is a believer in Christ. He is saved  and knows it, and even though his Christian life and witness be of the poorest quality, he can say as before the Lord, that he needs no assurance that he will not be hurt of the second death. The question does not arise. This being so, we are forced to believe that the second death here has been misunderstood.

The book of Life

Let us look at the church of Sardis (Rev. 3:1-6). Here there was ground for reproof, their works were not found ‘perfect before God’. However, to those who were undefiled, promises were made, and we read:

  • ‘He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I WILL NOT BLOT HIS NAME out the Book of Live, but I will confess His name before My Father, and before His angels’ (Rev. 3:5).

Again, if the accepted view of the Great White Throne is true, then this promise is gratuitous, the second death could never happen any way, while Romans 8:38,39 remains. However difficult it may be to harmonize with the rest of Scripture, one fact emerges from these considerations, namely, that the Millennial kingdom and the Great White Throne are two parts of one whole. The Book of Life figures in the Revelation, six times, thus:

A 3:5. Promise to the overcomer ‘I will not blot his name out of the book of life’.

B 13:8. These shall worship the beast. 17:8. These shall wonder at the beast.

20:12. The book of life opened. 20:15. Those not in the book of life.

A 22:19. Threat to take the name out of the book of life.

To this list we might add Revelation 22:18 where the plagues recorded in this book will be added to any who add to the things written, thus rounding off the intimate connection that exists with the earlier and closing sections of this prophecy.

A list of Evils Related to Apostasy

Another challenging passage is Revelation 21:7,8. Over against the overcomer, who is to inherit all things, is placed a list of evils, that at first glance belongs only to the wicked, the ungodly, and the unsaved. Yet remembering what we have already seen, and observing once more that it is in contrast with the OVERCOMER, not with the average believer, that this list is presented, perhaps the reader will hesitate to pronounce judgment until the Scriptures are permitted to speak for themselves. Here is the list:

  • ‘The fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death’ (Rev. 21:8).

Can such a list have any relation with a professed believer? Before this study we might have pronounced an unhesitating ‘no’ but perhaps we are not quite so sure now. Let us ‘search and see’.

  • ‘The ‘fearful’ Greek deilos. This word occurs only three times in the New Testament.
  • ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ (Matt. 8:26; cf. Mark. 4:40).

These words are addressed to the DISCIPLES. Deilia occurs but once, and it is used by Paul in his letter to Timothy in view of the perilous position Timothy was about to step into:

  • ‘God hath not given us the spirit of FEAR … be not … ashamed’ (2 Tim. 1:7,8).

Deiliao occurs but once, namely in John 14:27:

  • ‘Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid’.

The LXX uses deilos of Rehoboam who was young and ‘tender hearted’ and so understood not ‘the children of Belial’ (2 Chron. 13:7). In like manner, and connected with the overcoming character, Deuteronomium 20:8 uses deiliao for the soldier who is ‘fearful and faint-hearted’. Here therefore is proof, that the ‘fearful’ can and does include many of those who are nevertheless saved, disciples or servants of the Lord.

‘The unbelieving’, apistos. That it is possible for a believer to have ‘an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God’ Hebrews 3:12 makes clear, and the context likens this attitude to the character of those who, though redeemed from Egypt, nevertheless ‘fell in the wilderness’ (Heb. 3:17) and in contrast with the two ‘overcomers’ Caleb and Joshua (Heb. 3:16). 2 Timothy 2:13 has already been quoted as showing that though the words, ‘if we believe not’ can alas at times apply to those who nevertheless ‘shall live’, they cannot be said of those who both ‘live and reign’.

‘The abominable’, bdelussomai. This word is used with reference to ‘the Abomination of Desolation’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet (Matt. 24:15; Mark. 13:14; Rev. 17:4,5; 21:27). The fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, are all related to the state of mind that the terrible persecution of the Beast at the time of the end will induce.

‘The murderer’, phoneus. The reader may with some reluctance have followed so far, but at the word ‘murder’ will probably draw back. Yet Peter did not feel it necessary to explain and excuse the introduction of so dreadful a term, when he wrote:

  • ‘Let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters, Yet if any man suffer as a Christian … ‘ (1 Pet. 4:15,16)

To us, it seems odd to link ‘murder’ with ‘being busy-body’ or of using such an exhortation to ‘Christians’, but Peter did not feel that way evidently. Paul likewise, when writing to the Galatians puts together ’emulations, envyings, drunkenness and revellings’ with ‘murder’ (Gal. 5:19-21), and adds to all such, not to murderers only, ‘such … shall not inherit the kingdom of God’. That self-righteous Pharisee, who became the beloved apostle of the Gentiles, could say of his early life ‘touching the righteousness which is in the law’ that he was ‘BLAMELESS’ yet he had set out on a mission breathing out threatenings and MURDER (phonos) against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1).

When the Man of Sin is in the ascendant, when no one will be permitted to either buy or sell that has not the mark of the Beast, then many shall ‘betray one another’ and deliver up the true believer to be ‘killed’ (Mattt. 24:9,10). To those thus betrayed will come the promise:

  • ‘Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer … be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life … He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death’ (Rev. 2:10,11).

‘The whoremongers’, pornos. This word and its variants refer to any allegiance, in the day of the Lord, to that evil system associated with ‘The mother of Harlots’ (Rev. 17:5).

‘The sorcerers’, pharmakeus. These sorcerers are mentioned in Revelation 9:21 and 18:23 and reveal the Satanic powers that will be at work in the day of the Lord. In the list already quoted from Galatians 5, Paul includes ‘witchcraft’ (pharmakeia). These awful powers are seen at work in Revelation 16:13,14:

  • ‘And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of the great day of God almighty’.

‘Idolaters and all liars’ conclude this dreadful list. The apostle did not hesitate to say when writing to the church at Corinth, ‘If any man that is called a BROTHER be … an idolater’ (1 Cor. 5:11), neither did he feel it unnecessary to say, ‘neither be ye idolaters as were some of them’ (who did not overcome like Caleb and Joshua) (1 Cor. 10:7). See 1 Corinthians 9:24 where this passage is introduced, not with salvation, but with prize and crown, and with the possibility of being a ‘castaway’ or disapproved’.

The worship of the image of the Beast (Rev. 13:15) when resisted led to martyrdom and the crown of those who reign during the thousand years (Rev. 20:4). Finally ‘all liars’ is extended in Revelation 21:27 as ‘whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie’ and in Revelation 22:15 is further expanded to ‘whosoever loveth and maketh a lie’. ‘The lie’ is of the Devil, it is ‘his own’ (Joh. 8:44). ‘The lie’ is associated with the Man of Sin and the working of Satan, together with those who received not the love of the TRUTH and have pleasure in unrighteousness (2 Thess. 2:9-12). In the Church, (ecclesias=uitgeroepenen) those who posed as apostles were found ‘liars’ (Rev. 2:2), and the liar is definitely associated with anti-christian denial (1 John. 2:22). This list of dreadful sins are all related to the time of stress which comes upon the world under the domination of the Beast and the False Prophet. To lean towards that blasphemous teaching, to submit rather than suffer, becomes an act of treachery on a field of battle, and the treatment of all such offenders must be drastic in the extreme.

There remains to be considered one more feature, and one that may cause considerable feeling; that is the bringing into the realm  of the Church (ecclesia=uitgeroepenen) (Rev. 2-3) the possibility of ending up in the Lake of Fire. Traditional theology in the past has entertained few qualms as it contemplated the countless millions of un-evangelized heathen being consigned to that dreadful place, but it may be the nearer approach will stimulate a keener interest. The Lake of Fire is implicit in the two references to the churches, the second death, and the Book of Life already considered (Rev. 2:11; 3:5). In the first place, this dreadful doom was not prepared for the sons of men, it was ‘prepared for the Devil and his angels’ (Matt. 25:41) and in the Revelation, the first to enter are the Beast, The False Prophet and the Devil (Rev. 19:20; 20:10).

In times of peace, the punishment for some act directed against a government might be several years’ imprisonment, but the selfsame act in time of war might be punishment by death. Into the churches of Revelation 2 and 3 we can perceive the infiltration of the fifth columnists, false apostles, liars, Nicolaitanes, the blasphemy of those pretending to be Jews, but who are the synagogue of Satan; Satan’s throne, the doctrine of Balaam, the woman Jezebel, the threat to ‘kill her children with death’, the depths of Satan, a name to live yet dead. These constitute the associations of some of those who, having sold themselves to Satan, received the mark of the Beast, and so will be counted worthy of ‘tasting’ the same fate as that infernal trinity, the Beast, the False Prophet and the Devil. The Psalms, many of which are prophetic, are full of complaints and prayers concerning the enemy, the deceitful man, the persecutor, the betrayer.

Where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, the believing remnant of Israel, and of ‘all Israël’ that will ultimately be saved come in this period and sphere, must be gathered from other Scriptures. Abraham, we know from Hebrews 11, which find his place in the heavenly Jerusalem but this does not descend to the earth until the thousand years are finished. The one positive teaching of Revelation 20:1-6 is that the martyrs of the final three and a half years of Gentile dominion shall ‘reign’ and be ‘priests’ of God and Christ.

Three Days

Before we consider the teaching of Revelation 20, concerning the Great White Throne, let us gather what we may from the testimony of 2 Peter, chapter 3. He speaks of:

  1. The day of the Lord (2 Pet. 3:10).
  2. The day of God (2 Pet. 3:12).
  3. The new heavens and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13).
  4. The day of the age (aioon) (2 Pet. 3:18).

The wording of the Authorized Version obscures the relation of the day of the Lord, the Revised Version is nearer to the original:

  • ‘But the day of the Lord will come as a thief; IN THE WHICH the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are therein shall be burned up’.
  • ‘Looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, BY REASON OF WHICH the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?’ (2 Pet. 3:10,12 R.V.).

‘In the which’, ‘by reason of which’ clearly distinguishes the one from the other. The day of God succeeds the day of the Lord and is beyond the dissolution of heaven and earth. For that day, said Peter, we look, and that day of God is explained further to be:

  1. The news heavens and new earth.
  2. The Day (pre-eminently) of the age hemeran aionos (2 Pet. 3:18). The Millennium is not the goal, the goal is the Day of the Age, the Day of God, symbolized in the typical Scriptures as ‘the eighth day’ the first day of the week.

When we consider the opening of the seals, we find that the sixth seal (Rev. 6:12-17) takes us to the frontier of the Millennium. The sun becomes black, the moon like blood, the heavens depart as a scroll, the day of His wrath is come. There can be no more than one occasion when the heavens depart as a scroll. Psalm 2 speaks of the gathering of the kings and rulers of the earth and is quoted in Acts 4:26,27 of Christ. The kindling of the wrath of the Son is parallel with the passage quoted from Revelation 6.

The Great White Throne

Let us now turn our attention to the Great White Throne. We observe that this judgment is twofold. First there is a judgment of works, and this is followed by the judgment that issues in life or the second death. The judgment that will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah can scarcely be made to fit in here, neither can the judgment of the un-evangelized Gentile world be easily aligned here as it is described in Romans 2:6-16. The latter at least is a judgment according to ‘deeds’ (Rom. 2:6), and of course may be all one and the same as this judgment of Revelation 20, but for the moment the decision is not vital to our quest. The Gospel preacher often refers to the Great White Throne in language that exceeds anything written in Revelation 20. Instead of this chapter telling us that ‘whoever stands before the Great White Throne is necessarily damned’, the reverse is the truth. John ceases to speak of multitudes, he descends to the singular kai ei tis … eblelthe, ‘If ANYONE … HE was cast’.

The Great White Throne resurrection and judgment is the complement of the overcomer’s resurrection and judgment and, being so, may have no reference to the millions of un-evangelized dead. It will be one of the sessions, ‘the Judgment Seat of  Christ’.

Here for the moment we stay. Much re-adjustment will be necessary and this requires time, care and prayerful study. We believe sufficient has been brought forward in this analysis to justify a re-examination of many existing theories, and if it only calls a halt, and sends us all back to the neglected yet central portion of Scripture in this connection, namely Revelation 20:1-10, enough will have been achieved to justify publication. By speaking of the ‘Millennial’ kingdom we have blinded our eyes. We ought to speak of the first thousand years of a kingdom that shall have no end until the Son of God delivers up a perfected kingdom to God the Father, that God may be all in all.

Delegated Authority

The ‘Millennium’ is the last of the rule of God upon earth that employs DELEGATED authority. David, in resurrection, will be the Saviour’s Viceroy. The twelve apostles will sit upon the twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israël, the martyrs of the anti-christian persecutions will reign with Christ, and even then, the 1,000 years ends in rebellion. The age that follows is the reign of the Son of Man alone, and this ushers in the day of glory. We are conscious that much that we have written in this article is rather disconcerting, but we ask only one thing of our readers. Have we built squarely upon the revealed Word of God? Have we introduced any private interpretations of our own? We earnestly desire to be corrected if we have unconsciously done the latter, but we make no apology for any of our teaching that is in harmony with the Scriptures.

Whose Works Will be Judge?

  1. At the Great White Throne there will be a judgment of WORKS. If those judge are the wicked dead, why differentiate between sins and works? Commentators seem to be unanimous that this judgment refers to the teeming millions of un-evangelized heathen. But, seeing that Revelation 2:11 and 3:5 and 20:6 tie the whole of the Apocalypse together and must not exclude 20:12-15, and seeing that ‘works’ are definitely a subject of ‘judgment’ in Revelation 2:2,5,9,13,19,26; 3:1,2,8,15 and the rewards of these same chapters all point forward to the same closing scenes of the Apocalypse, does it not cry out for recognition that ‘the works’ of Revelation 20:12,13 are NOT the works of the un-evangelized millions but of those who could not be include in the FORMER resurrection of the overcomers, both characters being found in the seven churches?
  2. Again, the Book of Life is defined in Revelation 21:27 as ‘The Lamb’s book of life’, even as it is in Revelation 13:8 in direct reference to the worship of the Beast. Hebrews 12:23 will help us here. Hebrews 12:5-7 deals with sons, the theme of Hebrews 12:18-29 is the especial blessing of the ‘firstborn’ in connection with ‘Mount Sion … the heavenly Jerusalem’. The names of those firstborn  are ‘WRITTEN IN HEAVEN’ and the threat or the exemption concerning the ‘blotting out of the name from the book of life’ has reference to those who during the three years and a half of the great tribulation, become either ‘overcomers’ or wait for the resurrection at the Great White Throne.

We particularly ask every reader – Do you, or will you START all your investigations of this great subject of prophecy with the key passage – Revelation 20:1-10? Dr. Bullinger used to say: ‘Some use the Scriptures as a BUTTRESS, to support their convictions. Others go to the Scriptures as a BUCKET let down into the well of truth, and come up full of the water of life’ Which kind are you?

We had thought to head this article ‘Beyond the Millennial Reign’ but we have done little else than clear away some of the accumulated rubbish that has prevented genuine building (Neh. 3:1-32; 4:10). We doubt not but that we shall have to build not only with trowel, but as Nehemiah did with a sword near at hand (Neh. 4:18) but it will be a well worth fight (2 Tim. 4:7). The ages that follow the thousand years must be the theme of future studies.

The following study may help us to recognize the place that the overcomer plays in prophecy.

Readers overseas may be pardoned for thinking of London as one great city, but in reality there are two Londons. The one a square mile, with place names still indicating the gates of the city, such as Bishop’s Gate, Aldgate, Cripplegate, etc. and odd remnants of the old city wall. This is ‘The city of London’ with its ancient history, its city policy, its city giants, and its valued citizenship. Greater London is governed by the London County Council and differs in many essential respects from the city.

So, it is easy for the reader to think of Jerusalem as of one undivided city, but closer examination of the Scriptures will lead to a discrimination between the city Jerusalem and the stronghold of Zion. As certain aspects of truth are especially related to Zion, this distinction must be kept in mind. The first reference to Jerusalem is in Joshua 10:1 where we find it ruled by the Amorite king Adoni-zedek, ‘the Lord of righteousness’, Satan’s substitute for Melchizedek, ‘King of Righteousness’ (Gen. 14:18). Although Jerusalem was taken by Joshua we read:

  • ‘As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out: but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day’ (Josh. 15:63).

Zion and the Overcomer

Coming to the days of David we find the first reference to Zion. David reigned first over Judah in Hebron, and then over all Israël in Jerusalem (2 Sam. 5:5), but we learn that there was a ‘stronghold’ held by the Jebusites that defied him. So confident were they in the impregnability of Zion that they named the walls with the halt and the blind in derision. A secret entrance called ‘the gutter’ became known to David, and he announced that whoever could get up this gutter and capture the stronghold of Zion should be made Chief Captain. This Joab accomplished, climbing up a shaft that connected what is now called ‘the Virgin’s Fount’ with the interior of Zion (2 Sam. 5:6-9). In 1 Chronicles 11:4-6 this exploit is recorded, and there we have not only the added note, ‘So Joab the son of Zeruiah went first up, and was chief’ but the remainder of the chapter is significantly devoted to enumerating the names and the exploits of ‘the first three’, ‘the thirty’ and a list of ‘valiant men’ all market out for conspicuous bravery. The first reference to Zion links it with the ‘overcomer’.

Sion is Equivalent to the Heavenly Jerusalem

When we turn to the New Testament we find this association preserved. ‘Ye are come to mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem … the church (ecclesia=uitgeroepenen) of the firstborn, which are written in heaven’ (Heb. 12:22,23). Sion is mentioned also in the book of the Revelation where we see the 144,000 overcomers stand on mount Sion with the Lamb (Rev. 14:14). Hebrews 12 and Galatians 4 place mount Sinai in contrast with mount Sion, and in Galatians 4 the apostle speaks of ‘Jerusalem which is above’ (Gal. 4:25,26). Paul would be familiar with the fact noted by Josephus that Sion was referred to as ‘The upper city’ (he ano agora), using the same word ano as is found in Galatians 4:26, he ano Ierousalem. Putting these references together, we perceive that Sion differs from Jerusalem in that it is associated with overcoming, it is the Upper City, it is the alternative title to the heavenly Jerusalem. In the Old Testament this heavenly city is unrevealed, and Zion refers there to the centre of the Lord’s administration not in the days of perfect peace, but in the midst of enemies:

  • ‘The LORD shall send the rod of Thy strength out of Zion: rule Thou IN THE MIDST OF THINE ENEMIES
  • ‘The Lord at Thy right hand shall STRIKE THROUGH KINGS in the day of His WRATH’ (Psa. 110:2,5).

This passage is comparable with Psalm 2. There we have the kings of the earth setting themselves against the Lord, and against His anointed, but He that sitteth in the heavens shall have them in derision, and when He speaks to them, it is in His WRATH, saying:

  • ‘Yet have I set MY King upon MY holy hill of Zion’ (Psa. 2:6).

This King whose dominion includes ‘the uttermost parts of the earth’ shall ‘break them with a rod of iron’ and these kings are enjoined to ‘Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and ye perish from the way, When His WRATH is kindled but a little’ (Psa. 2:6,8,9,12).

The Millennium follows immediately upon the Coming of Christ (Rev. 19:21; 20:1,2,). There is no interval for a PreMillennium kingdom in the records of the Apocalypse except it be the kingdom of the Beast. When Christ come He comes to Zion,

  • ‘The Redeemer shall come to Zion … Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee’ (Isa. 59:20; 60:1).

At the selfsame time, namely at the coming of the Lord to Zion, ‘darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people … and Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising … the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted’ (Isa. 59:20; 60:1,2,3,12). Again we read in the prophecy Joel:

  • ‘Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in My holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand … The LORD also shall roar out of Zion … and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strenght of the children of Israël … for the LORD dwelleth in Zion’ (Joel 2:1; 3:16,21).

The Millennium opens (1) with the Lord reigning in Zion, or (2) it does not. If it does, then the Millennium cannot be a kingdom of universal peace; to say so denies the testimony of Scripture. When the Lord reigns in Zion it is in the midst of enemies. Wrath is to be feared. Rule will be severe – a rod of IRON. Nations are in danger of perishing and so are kings, and the nation and the kingdom that refuse to serve Israël shall perish, ‘Yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted’ (Isa. 60:12). This will be the day when Israël shall be named ‘The Priest of the Lord’ and ‘Ministers of our God’, the day when those that mourn ‘in Zion’ shall have beauty for ashes (Isa. 61:3,6).

So we could continue. We must either believe that when the LORD reigns in Zion, it will be on earth where enemies still exist, or we can believe one or other of the theories with which the Millennium kingdom has been invested, but it is impossible to believe both.

The last Test

The Millennium is man’s last opportunity and test. Here, when sin is restrained and the Devil bound, man still proves utterly unable to stand, and the Millennium is the last of a series that commenced with Eden, and which continued under patriarchal rule, the dominion of law, and the reign of David, even to the advent of the Son of Man in His humiliation on earth.

Right Division Obtains Here

We have evidently placed in the Millennium, prophecies that belong to a succeeding age, and not to the reign of the overcomer. A day follows the Millennium when the heavenly Jerusalem descends to the earth, to be the jewelled centre of a new earth, and Peter tells us that the day of God follows the day of the Lord.

Out: Prophetic Truth / Charles H. Welch

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 Posted by at 09:11
Aug 162018
 

With the one exception of 1 Timothy 4:1, which uses the Greek word husteros, every reference to the last days in the New Testament employs the Greek word eschatos. Writing to the Hebrews the apostle contrast the earlier times, when God spoke ‘unto the fathers by the prophets’ with ‘these last days’ in which He has spoken ‘to us by (or in) His Son’ (Heb. 1:1,2). Had Israël repented at the call of John the Baptist and of the Lord, the long expected Kingdom would have been set up, and all that is said of the ‘last days’ of Old Testament prophecy would have been fulfilled, but as Israël did not repent, and as the King was rejected, those last days, like John the Baptist were only ‘in the spirit and power’ of those wondrous prophecies and not their fulfillment, and ‘the mysteries’ of the kingdom of heaven operate, and a mystery always indicates a previous failure.

The six references in John’s Gospel to the last day speak of ‘resurrection’ (John 6:39,40,44,54; 11:24) or of ‘judgment’ (John 12:48). The reference in John 7:37 is to ‘the last day, that great day of the feast’ (Lev. 23:39-44). Although John 7:38 says ‘As the Scripture hath said’, no passage of the Old Testament can be found that contains the words that follow, any more than any single passage of Scripture can be found for Matthew 2:23. However, the sense and prophetic import of many Scriptures justify the Lord’s assertion, among them such prophecies as Isaiah 12:3; 55:1; 58:11; Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Zechariah 14:8. Moreover, there is a division of opinion as to who is referred to in the words: ‘Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water’. Some see in these words an exclusive reference to Christ, that from Him the Giver shall flow rivers of living water, and justify the reading by the words of explanation that follow, ‘This He spake of the Spirit’. We cannot, however, ignore such a closely similar passage as that found in John 4:14:

  • ‘But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water what I shall give him shall BE IN HIM A WELL OF WATER SPRINGING UP into everlasting life’.

The sentiment of 7:38 is not dissimilar to this.

We must not, in this chapter, fail to give full weight to the Rabbinical teaching which had so moulded the language and the thoughts of those that heard the Lord’s utterance. Here is one example, quoted by Bloomfield:

  • ‘When a man turns to the Lord, he is like a fountain filled with living water, AND RIVERS FLOW FROM HIM to men of all nations and tribes’ (Sohar. Chadesch).

Modern usage looks somewhat askance at the free use of the word ‘belly’, even as the seven references to ‘bowels’ found in Paul’s epistles are not acceptable reading to the so-called ‘refined’ today. The Greek koilia, like the Hebrew beten and qereb, often denotes the most inward part of man, and is almost synonymous with the use of ‘heart’ among us today.

It is very characteristic of John to slip in a word of explanation as the narrative proceeds, and this is he has done here:

  • ‘But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified’ (John 7:39).

This tendency to help the reader with an explanatory word is seen in such passages as 2:25; 6:64; 9:22; 11:13; etc. Most textual critics agree that the word dedomenon ‘given’ is an addition to the original text, ‘The Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified’ (7:39). The evident meaning is that the dispensation of the Spirit was contingent upon the glorifying and ascension of Christ, and this is implied in John (14:16,17 and 16:7, and stated with clearness by Peter on the day of Pentecost:

  • ‘Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promised of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed fort this, which ye now see and hear’ (Acts 2:3).

Pentecost was a germinant fulfillment, and the yet future day, as a terminant fulfillment, seems to be necessary to completely fill out the Saviour’s intention. Whenever ‘the last day’ shall come, this outpouring of the Spirit among other things will be a great and blessed characteristic. We have given consideration to the references in Acts 2:17 separately in the article entitled JOEL and the last days of Acts 2 (p. 400), which should be consulted. We therefore pass on to other references.

James 5:3 looks upon the last days as a time of judgment. ‘Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days’, and in verse 9 he seems to return to the subject saying:

  • ‘Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the Judge standeth before the door’ (James 5:9).

Peter uses the words ‘the last time’ or ‘times’ or ‘days’ in each case translating the one word eschatos. In the first epistle he speaks of salvation and of the precious blood of Christ:

  • ‘Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’ (1 Pet. 1:5).
  • ‘Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you’ (1 Pet. 1:20).

Here in the same chapter, the expression ‘the last time’ refers to the future ‘appearing of Jesus Christ’ (1 Pet. 1:7), and ‘these last times’ refer, as does Hebrews 1:2, to the period of His first Advent. It should be noted that in 1 Peter 1:5 the word translated ‘time’ is kairos, ‘season’, and in 1 Peter 1:20 the word ‘times’ is the plural of chronos. In 2 Peter 3:3 the apostle reveals that:

  • ‘There shall come in the last days scoffers’,

who shall ridicule the idea that Christ will ever come again. Jude echoes this in verse 18. This leaves us with two references in the first epistle of John.

  • ‘Little children, it is the last time:’,

and if we ask how do we know that, or what is the outstanding feature that denotes that, he continues:

  • ‘and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time’ (1 John 2:18).

This is evidently an outstanding feature of the last time, whether anticipatory ‘even now’ or at length, in the final years of Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks. It will be perceived that the expression ‘the last days’ speaks of the first and second Advents, and of those events, some glad, some sad, that accompany these appearings of the Saviour.

We have now only two passages left for us to consider namely 2 Timothy 3:1-9 and 1 Timothy 4:1-3, the only prophecies that belong to the dispensation of the Mystery. Let us turn to 2 Timothy 3:1-9. The opening words of this section are prophetic in tone and deal particularly with the characteristics of the last days. This feature is very prominent in chapter 4 and it is this light upon the last days of the dispensation of the Mystery that makes Paul’s final word so important to us. Let us first of all acquaint ourselves with the structure of this section.

2 Timothy 3:1-9

Disapproved concerning the faith

A    1,2.       MEN (antropoi) of the last days.

B            Characteristics of the last days – misplaced love.

a    2. Love of self (philautoi). Love of money (philarguroi)

b    3.  Haters of good (aphilagathoi).

a .  4.  Love of pleasure (philedonoi) more than Love of God (philotheoi)

C  5-.         Form without power.

D  -5.         From these turn away.

A    6.       WOMEN (gunaikaria) of the last days.

B           Characteristics of last days – inordinate desires.

    6.  Led captive.

b     6.  Laden with sins.

a     6.  Led away by lusts.

C     7.        Ever learning.     Disapproved.

D .   9.       They shall proceed no further.

Just as the keynote of the balancing member 2 Timothy 2:14-26 is the word ‘approved’, dokimos (2 Tim. 2:15), so the keynote of the present section is ‘disapproved’ or ‘reprobate’, adokimos (2 Tim. 3:8). The apostle opens this section with a forecast of the character of the last days.

We must exercise care when meeting this expression lest we confuse things that differ. Peter quoting from Joel refers to the ‘last days’, but a reading of the context shows that these days immediately precede ‘the great and dreadful day of the Lord‘ and are associated with Israël’s restoration. The Lord speaks of ‘the last days’ six times in the Gospel according to John, and the day HE refers to is the day of resurrection and judgment. From the standpoint of the epistle to the Hebrews, ‘these last days’ refer to the days of Christ’s first Advent (Heb. 1:2), even as John in his first epistle said: ‘it is the last time’ (2:18).

It is manifest that each writer views the subject from his own point of view, Peter’s ‘last days’ would be the last days of the dispensation associated with the Kingdom and Israël, whereas Paul’s ‘last days’ would be the closing days of the dispensation of the Mystery. We are concerned when we read in 2 Peter 3:3, that in the last days shall come scoffers who shall walk after their own lusts and deny the Second Coming of the Lord; but we should be still more concerned to learn that the closing days of this most favoured dispensation will end in apostasy parallel to the conditions of ancient paganism (for proof of this statement see later exposition), and characterized by the same dreadful motive ‘after their own lusts’ (2 Tim. 4:3). With such passages of Scripture written for our learning, and with the consciousness that the end of the present dispensation cannot be far off, the reader will not be easily moved to believe that a great spiritual revival is on its way, even though such should be ‘a consummation devoutly to be wished’.

In the first epistle to Timothy, the apostle had been led to speak of the outstanding character of the ‘latter times’, husterois kairois, ‘latter seasons’. Not only is there the change of word ‘days’ in 2 Timothy 3 and ‘seasons’ in 1 Timothy 4, but also the second epistle speaks of the ‘last’, eschatos, ‘the extreme end’, whereas 1 Timothy speaks of the period that is ‘left over’, husteros, of the season. Consequently, the state of affairs described in the first epistle must be understood as leading up to the crisis of the second epistle. The apostasy starts in 1 Timothy 4, for the word ‘depart’ is the Greek word aphistemi from which our word ‘apostasy’ is derived, it marks the beginning of the movement that ends with the awful reprobation of 2 Timothy 3.

This departure from the faith is the outcome of ‘giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons’ which, while including antagonism against the essentials of the Gospel, point markedly to ‘spiritism’, a cult that is developing with alarming rapidity and captivating millions. While ‘seducing spirits’ are not named in 2 Timothy 3, there fell [fell=cruel, fierce, barbarous, savage or inhuman] work is to be seen in the word ‘perilous’ times or seasons. This word ‘perilous’ is the Greek word chalepos, the word employed in Matthew 8:28 to described two demon-possessed men who lived among tombs, exceeding ‘fierce’.

Such is the prophetic picture of the last days of this dispensation. The truth forsaken, those who hold it despised or persecuted, the whole dominated by the doctrine of demons; no wonder the apostle spoke of a day that should come when men would turn away their ears from the truth and be turned unto fables. We said earlier that the characteristics of these days of 2 Timothy 3 were like those of the early days of paganism. We gather this from a comparison of 2 Timothy 3:1-4 with Romans 1:28-32.

Romans 1:28-32                                                                  2 Timothy 3:1-8

‘Boasters’ alazon (30).                                                              ‘Boasters’ alazon (2).

‘Proud’ huperephanos (30).                                                     ‘Proud’ huperephanos (2).

‘Disobedient to parents’ goneusin apeitheis (30).               ‘Disobedient to parents’ goneusin apeitheis (2).

‘Without natural affection’ astorgos (31).                             ‘Without natural affection’ astorgos (3).

‘Implacable’ aspondos (31, in the Received Text).              ‘Truce breakers’ aspondos (3).

‘Reprobate’ adokimos (28).                                                      ‘Reprobate’ adokimos (8).

In addition to thess six words that are repeated from Romans 1, we read: ‘lovers of their own selves, lovers of money (covetous), blasphemers, unthankful (which finds an echo in Romans 1:21, neither were thankful), unholy, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high-minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God’. Standing out prominently in this dreadful list is one word ‘love’. We have indicated it in the structure, but must draw attention to it again:

  • ‘Lovers of their own selves’ philautoi.
  • ‘Lovers of silver, or money (covetous)’ philarguroi.
  • ‘Not loving those that are good’ aphilagathoi.
  • ‘Lovers of pleasure’ philedonoi.
  • ‘Lovers of God’ philotheoi.

We see there had been erring from the ‘truth’ (2 Tim. 2:18) and resisting the ‘truth’ (2 Tim. 3:8) and turning away from the ‘truth’ (2 Tim. 4:4); there were also some who had made shipwreck concerning ‘faith’ (1 Tim. 1:19); there was to be a departure from the ‘faith’ (1 Tim. 4:1); some had erred from the ‘faith’ (1 Tim. 6:10, 21); others were reprobate concerning the ‘faith’ (2 Tim. 3:8).

When, however, the apostle comes to the outstanding characteristic of ‘the last days’, he does not speak of faith or truth, but goes deeper, and speaks of love. It was his constant practice to associate faith with love. To the Galatians he spoke of ‘faith which worketh by love’ (Gal. 5:6). To the Colossians he wrote, linking their ‘faith in the Lord Jesus’ with their ‘love unto all the saints’ (Col. 1:4).

Did he speak to the Thessalonians of that ‘work of faith’? then he coupled it immediately with their ‘labour of love’ (1 Thess. 1:3). The good tidings that rejoiced his heart were concerning their ‘faith and love’ (1 Thess. 3:6), and the very breastplate was dual, it was a ‘breastplate of faith and love’ (1 Thess. 5:8). So also when writing to Timothy the apostle spoke of his own commission as being ‘with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus’ (1 Tim. 1:14), and when he would exhort Timothy, he links ‘faith and love’ together (1 Tim. 6:11), and points to his own life as an example of ‘faith, longsuffering, love’ (2 Tim. 3:10).

It may be that some reader has expected a fuller analysis of the dreadful times that are ahead of us, and is disappointed because we have not pursued the blasphemy, incontinence and treachery of the last days with all their harrowing effects upon heart and mind. We believe, however, that the judicious will realize that the time and space occupied by the preceding exposition of the fundamental character of love is more than justified, for it is just there that we are most vulnerable and where the best of us break down.

However many the hindrances and the countermoves of the Enemy, the last days will come, and their shadows already are visible on the horizon. We however rejoice in spite of all the dark prospect that looms ahead, for

  • ‘Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning’ (Psa. 30:5).

(3) The beginning of apostasy in the dispensation of the Mystery

The fact that the church (ecclesia) of the One Body is called under the dispensation of the Mystery; the fact that this Mystery is in the nature of a parenthesis in the revealed outworking of the purpose of the ages; the fact that this parenthesis is but an alternative to saying that Israël as a nation is set aside in the years 63-64 AD (Acts 28:26-29) and become for the time being lo-ammi (‘not My people’); the fact that while Israël as a nation is lo-ammi, prophetic times are not computable, prove that it is utterly unscriptural, as it is futile, to attempt to forecast ‘the time of the end’, to envisage the year of the Lord’s return, or to introduce into the present time the signs of the end referred to in Matthew 24, such as ‘wars and rumors of wars’.

While all this is true, it is nevertheless equally true that the great world goes on around us. Nations are pursuing their policies; changes that plainly herald a crisis are everywhere apparent, and therefore it seems that some notes upon the present aspects of things with a brief summary of what ‘must shortly come to pass’ may be of service.

In the first place we must turn to those epistles which contain the revelation of the Mystery, and note anything that is said concerning the trend of affairs that mark the apostasy and the character of the days at the close of the dispensation of the Mystery. Though found in the epistles of the Mystery, the apostasy is antagonistic to it, and will run on and develop into the great prophetic era known as ‘the last days’, when the church (ecclesia) of the One Body is complete.

Turning first to the epistle to the Ephesians, we naturally find that its contents are devoted mostly to making known the basic truth of the new dispensation. It contains, nevertheless, the germ of apostasy with which this dispensation closes.

Firstlythis church (ecclesia) was ‘chosen in Him before the overthrow of the world’ (Eph. 1:4), and this fact shows that the antagonism which brought about the ‘overthrow’, and which is associated with the fall of the principalities and powers, together with one originally called ‘the anointed cherub’ (Ezek. 28:14) must of necessity be at the root of the spiritual opposition that is expressed in the pages of Scripture, and in the experience of all who have stood for the truth of the Mystery.

SecondlyEphesians 2:2 makes it very clear that there is a mighty spiritual antagonist whose energy (‘the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience’) is so great that it is placed in contrast with the energy (‘the working of the mighty power which He wrought in Christ’) that raised Christ from the dead and seated Him far above all. The mighty antagonist is called ‘The prince of the power of the air’.

Thirdly, the methods adopted by these evil powers are indicated in Ephesians 4:14 where it speaks of ‘every wind of doctrine, by the cunning craftiness, whereby there lie in wait to deceive’; and again in Ephesians 5:11 and 18: ‘Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness’; Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess’.

Fourtly, the last chapter of Ephesians reveals most definitely the nature of the foe.

  • ‘For we wrestle not against flesh and blood in heavenly places, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness’ (Eph. 6:12 author’s translation).

and the whole armour of God is provided in view of ‘the evil day’ (6:13).

We have not put forward any justification for our revised translation in these four phases of truth; this we have done in the series on Ephesians which runs through The Berean Expositor, volumes 35 to 42. We press on for the moment in our quest to discover what is indicated in these later epistles of Paul concerning the character of the age as the dispensation of the Mystery nears its close.

The references in Philippians are of a general character. They indicate the dangers that lurk within the church (ecclesia) and which necessarily contribute to the failure at the end. Such passages as the following give an indication of the leaven that works the mischief:

  • ‘Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ … that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel’ (Phil. 1:27).
  • ‘All seek their own, not the things which are in Jesus Christ’s (2:21).
  • ‘Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision’ (3:2).
  • ‘Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an example. For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ’ (3:17,18).

It will be observed that whereas Ephesians reveals the spiritual foes that attack the church (ecclesia) from without, Philippians draws attention to the evils that are within, which will help that outside attack. These two aspects are naturally in perfect harmony with the distinctive objects of these two related epistles.

Turning to Colossians, we have an epistle which traverses much the same ground as is covered by Ephesians, but which also introduces the note of warning and the reference to the prize (Col. 2:18), which links it on to Philippians as well. We are warned against enticing words, philosophy, tradition, rudiments, shadows, voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, ordinances and the neglecting of the body found in chapter 2, which ‘beguile of the reward’ (verse 18). There is not so much revealed in Colossians concerning other forms of attack by spiritual foes, the revelation being rather the assurance of their overthrow.

  • ‘Who hath delivered us from the authority of darkness’ (Col. 1:13 author’s translation).
  • Having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it’ (2:15).

After writing these three prison epistles and the short epistle to Philemon, the apostle was liberated for a time, and occupied his freedom in establishing the church (ecclesia) as far as that was possible. The church (ecclesia) at Phillipi had ‘bishops’ and deacons’ (Phil. 1:1), and there is no reason why the church (ecclesia) of the One Body should not be ruled ‘decently and in order’. Consequently we find both in 1 Timothy and Titus a concern regarding the character and appointment of bishops and deacons.

The evils exposed in 1 Timothy are complicated; we therefore tabulate them, and leave the analysis for private study. There is ‘other doctrine’ (1:3; 6:3) and ‘the doctrines of demons’ (4:1). There are ‘fables and endless genealogies’, vain jangling’, teachers of the law who understand neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm’, and in regard to faith and a good conscience, there are some who have ‘made shipwreck’ (1:7,19). There is the warning concerning the abuse of prayer, the vanity of outward adornment and the usurpation of authority by woman over man in the matter of teaching, indicated as a contributive cause of failure (2:8, 9-12). The moral and spiritual qualifications for bishops and deacons are pointed in their suggestiveness. Take, for example, one qualification of the bishops:

  • ‘One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?’) (1 Tim. 3:4,5).

Other statements such as ‘not given to wine’, ‘not greedy of filthy lucre’, ‘not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into condemnation of the devil’ (3:3,6) indicate contributory causes to the failure of the testimony.

In 1 Timothy 4, however, the Spirit ‘speaketh expressly’ and definitely reveals that ‘in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of demons … forbidding to marry and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth’ (4:1-3). ‘Profane and old wives’ fables’ and the over-emphasis upon ‘bodily exercise’ follow these solemn utterances (4:7,8), showing how interrelated the doctrines of demons may be with matters of everyday life. Provisions for young widows against Satan’s snares is made in 1Timothy 5:11-15, and an undue abstemiousness on the part of Timothy is corrected in 1 Timothy 5:23. Timothy is told to withdraw himself from those who teach ‘other doctrine’ (6:3-5), and is warned against the ‘love of money’, the ‘trust in uncertain riches’, and the ‘vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called’ (6:10,17,20).

Finally, in 2 Timothy we have the warning concerning a ‘spirit of cowardice’ that would be ashamed of the testimony of the Lord or of Paul His prisoner, and also the necessity to hold fast a form of sound words received from Paul (2 Tim. 1:7,8,13). In chapter 2 we have the many hindrances that are found in the path of him who would run for the crown. There are the ‘entangling affairs of this life’ and ‘the denying of the Lord’ (2:4,12). Great emphasis is placed upon the principle of ‘right division’ so that the workman shall have no need for shame (2:15); ‘profane and vain babblings’ are once more mentioned (2:16), and the figure of the great house is introduced to urge the believer to ‘purge himself’ so that he may be a vessel unto honour (2:19-21). The avoidance of youthful lusts, foolish and unlearned questions, and strife are enjoined (2:22-24). 2 Timothy 3 adds to the Spirit’s ‘express’ statement of 1 Timothy 4 by saying:

  • ‘This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away’ (2 Tim. 3:1-5).
  • ‘Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived’ (3:13).

This awful revelation is supplemented in chapter 4 by the words:

  • ‘The time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables’ (4:3,4).

The forsaking of Paul by Demas because he ‘loved this present world’ (verse 10) must be included as a warning and a symptom in this dreadful foreshadowing of the perilous times that must surely come.

Here, as contributory causes to this one dreadful end, we have such widely divergent agencies as spiritual wickednesses and the matter of woman’s dress, and usurpation of authority over the man. We have doctrines of demons closely associated with the matter of diet. We have bodily exercise, young widows, water drinking, neglecting the body, ruling the house well, all closely allied with rightly dividing the word of truth, and being unashamed of the testimony of the Lord’s prisoner.

A survey of the causes that lead to such an end is surely humbling to us all, and we realize that we all have shared in the downward movement. The only reference to ‘repentance’ in Paul’s later ministry occurs in 2 Timothy 2:25, and possibly none can read this article without feeling cause for repentance in many particulars.

We do not intend to dwell on these passages; they have been assembled so that we shall see what the age will be like when the church (ecclesia) of the One body is complete, the dispensation closes, and when prophetic times once more begin to run their destined course.

Joel and the last days of Acts 2

A Brief Note on the Prophet Joel, with particular reference to Peter’s quotation as recorded in Acts 2

The Prophecy of Joel is undated, and we have purposely limited ourselves to the date prophecies in the Analysis, but it contains references to the future that impinge upon New Testament times, and must be given a consideration here. Its outstanding thoughts are REPENTANCE and RESTORATION, both of which form the groundwork of Peter’s ministry in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles:

  • ‘Rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God … Who knoweth if He will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind Him?’ (Joel 2:13,14).
  • ‘And I will restore to you the years that the locust hath eaten, the cankerworm, and the caterpillar, and the palmerworm, My great army which I sent among you’ (Joel 2:25).

The passage that demands our attention is that which follows this promise of restoration:

‘And it shall come to pass afterward’ (Joel 2:28).

The word ‘afterward’ cannot stand alone, we must supply mentally the answer to ‘after what?’ and here the answer is ‘after the promised restoration, after the day comes when Israël as the people of God shall never be ashamed’. It is obvious to any student of Prophecy that this happy day of Israël’s restoration has not yet come, and that consequently some Scriptural and logical reason must have justified Peter’s quotation of Joel 2:28-32, in Acts 2:17-21. A few variations are observable in Peter’s quotation, that depart both from the Septuagint and from the Hebrew original, but these do not constitute a problem.

What does constitute a problem of interpretation is the reason for quoting Joel 2:28-32 on the day of Pentecost. Peter most certainly called the people to repentance, and linked repentance with the time of restoration which had been the burden of prophecy since the world began, but if Pentecost was the restoration long hoped for, Peter could not have said what he did in Acts 3:19-26. When we examine his quotation more closely we discover that he made a most important alteration. He DID NOT because he COULD NOT say ‘It shall come to pass AFTERWARD‘ for the promised restoration was yet future, he could only say:

  • ‘It shall come to pass in the last days’ (Acts 2:17).

It is an exegetical mistake of the first magnitude to assume that Peter is providing us with a basic text upon which we may erect a structure of ‘the last days’ here, he is simply accommodating the passage to answer a most simple and somewhat trivial objection. Upon twelve men had come the ‘power from on high’ with the result that the Jews who had come from the twelve specified nations (Acts 2:9-11) heard them speak the words of God in the tongue in which they had been born. Some were amazed and said ‘what meaneth this?’ Others mocking said ‘these men are full of new wine’, but Peter said ‘these are not drunken … this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel‘ and proceeds to quote the whole passage. His answer amounted to this: ‘If you are going to attribute this initial outpouring of the Spirit which has endued these twelve men with power for their ministry, to the effects of wine and drunkenness, what will you say when the great outpouring of the Spirit takes place AFTER the restoration actually comes?’ For this reason, if for no other, Acts 2:16-21 is the last passage to refer to in the construction of any scheme of the prophetic period known as the ‘last days’; any other reference is preferable to this, for the simple reason that Peter was accommodating this passage to rebuke those that mocked.

We do not attempt an examination of the prophetic period known as the ‘last days’ here, but the subject is considered in the article LAST DAYS, but a word to the wise we trust will be sufficient. ‘In those days’, i.e. the days of which Joel was speaking, God said:

  • For, behold in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations‘ (Joel 3:1,2).

If any are at all doubtful as to the fact that ‘blood and fire and pillars of smoke’, the darkening of the sun, and the turning of the moon into blood are judgments and not blessings, [It has actually been expressed, that however strange it may appear, these dreadful occurrences must somehow be ‘blessings’; such is the condition of mind into which a false interpretation of Peter’s quotation can lead the most earnest seeker after truth] let him read Joel 3:15,16

Out: ‘Prophetic Truth’ / Charles H. Welch

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www.israeltoday.nl / Het nieuws vanuit Israël dat anderen niet brengen … … … …

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THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON

www.bereanonline.org

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Doe je graag aan Bijbelstudie?

www.everread.nl

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Bediening van het geheimenis – Efeze 3:9

www.levendwater.orgzie: Audio o.a. dhr. D. van Zuijlekom

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 

 Posted by at 09:04
Aug 122018
 

We preface our study of the ‘Last days’ with quotations from the writings of the Rev. Nathaniel West, D.D. Speaking of the vision of Daniel 8, he says:

  • ‘These great world movements like those afterwards between the north and the south are mirrors, of like collisions, yet to occur in the last days, marking the ‘Time of the End’ – The East seeking to control the West, the West to control the East. [Dr. West wrote these words about the year 1900].
  • ‘The great world movement of history is planetary motion. “It returneth again according to its circuits”. The End-Time will renew the Old-Time, though under new conditions.
  • ‘It is with some providential intent the labours of a Curtino and Grote, a Stanley and Rawlinson, a Mueller and Weltzhofer, a Mayer and Brandis, have drawn attention to the “Laws of historical development” and show how the destiny of the Jews affects the destiny of all nations, and that “in the near future, the world may expect to see the operation of the law, more powerfully than ever”‘.

Inasmuch as prophecy deals with ‘things to come’, it must have much to say about ‘The End’, ‘The Time of the End’, ‘The Last Days’ and ‘The Latter Times’ as well as the great periods called ‘The Day of the Lord’ and ‘The Day of God’.

The Hebrew Old Testament employs the word acharith; the Greek New Testament uses the words eschatos and once only the word husteros. The verb achar means ‘to tarry, to remain behind’, and the adjective achar means ‘other’ (properly one coming behind). Other forms of the word are the adverb ‘behind’, the preposition ‘after’. The words acharith and acheron are the two that concern us here, and particularly acharith, the feminine form. It can refer to the end of a year (Deut. 11:12) or the end or ultimate issue of a course of action (Jer. 5:31). ‘In the end of the days’ looks to the closing days of prophetic import, including the outcome, or as Dr. Nathaniel West has put it ‘The Afterness’, whether of Messianic hope, or the calamitous nature of the close of history.

The book of Job sets fort the Enigma of the Ages and its solution ‘Ye have seen the end of the Lord’ (Jas. 5:11).

‘So the LORD blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning’ (Job 42:12).

The Goal of the Ages foreshadowed

The book of Job contains in dramatized form the problem of the ages, and in the opening and closing chapters, the key to the enigma is supplied. We who read the complete book have the advantage of Job and his friends, for we see that Job’s trouble arose, not so much from his own doings or circumstances, but from the enmity that is inherent between the two seeds. Satan is seen attacking Job, whose name actually means ‘The Attacked’ or ‘One at Enmity’. God’s permission of the evil endured by Job was, as we learn, limited. His life could not be touched. We have also seen that there are two essential features in this great outworking of the Divine purpose. Patience, ‘Ye have heard of the patience of Job’, and End, ‘and have seen the end of the Lord’. The fact that Job received ‘double’ for all his sufferings and loss is stressed at the close of the book. In the first chapter his is said to have had ‘seven sons and three daughters’, he also possessed 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, 500 yoke of oxen and 500 she asses. In chapter 42 we learn that the Lord turned the captivity of Job, and gave him twice as much as he had before. The Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning, for he had 14,000 sheep, 6,000 camels, 1,000 yoke of oxen, and 1,000 she asses (42:12). The number of his children was not doubled, but he was given seven sons and three daughters as at the beginning. The names given to the three daughters suggest that Job had been entirely delivered from the loathsome disease that had been inflicted upon him, for Jemima probably means ‘as the day’, betokening Job’s emergence from the shadow of death. Kezia means ‘fragrant as cassia’ (Psa. 45:8) and Keren-happuch ‘horn for paint’, indicating rare beauty. The comment is added:

‘And in all the land were no women found so fair as the daughters of Job’ (Job 42:15).

The name of Job’s third daughter is prophetic, for the Hebrew word puk, meaning ‘paint’, is found in Isaiah 54:11, where we read ‘I will lay thy stones with fair colours’. The same word is used in 1 Chronicles 29:2, for the ‘glistering’ stones there described, anticipating as it does the splendour of the New Jerusalem, even as the ‘painted’ face of Jezebel anticipates the evil parody described in Revelation 17:1-6.

Moreover Job is said to have lived ‘after this’ another hundred and forty years. If this age was doubled, as the number of his cattle had been, then Job’s total age would have been 280 years. If, on the other hand, his age was repeated as the number of his children had been, then he would have been 70 at the time of his affliction and 70 + 140, namely 210, at the time of his death.

At the time of Job’s experiences, Israel had not come into being, but the God of Job was also the God of Israel and of the ages. It is therefore entirely in harmony with the teaching of Scripture that the experiences of Job should be echoed by those of Israël. Thus we notice in the first chapter of Isaiah that Israël, like Job, is seen covered with incurable sores, and that in Isaiah 61, in the acceptable year of the Lord, we find this promise:

‘For your shame ye shall have double’ … ‘In their land they shall possess the double’ (Isa. 61:7).

In Job 42:10 we read the words ‘the LORD turned the captivity of Job’, and the reader will recognize in this phrase a recurring promise made to Israël through Moses and the later prophets. Over and over again we read the words ‘bring into captivity’, turn again, turn away or turn back captivity’ all of which go back to Job’s experience as their original. If it is true, that Moses is the one into whose hands the story of Job came, it is impossible to believe that he could write of Israël’s future ‘The LORD thy God will turn thy captivity’ (Deut. 30:3) without associating Israël’s age-time experiences with those of Job. This ‘turning again of the captivity’ of Israël is the burden of the Psalmist, ‘Oh that the salvation of Israel were come out of Zion! When the LORD bringeth back the captivity of His people, Jacob shall rejoice, and Israël shall be glad’ (Psa. 14:7; cf. 53:6; 85:1 and 126:4). Jeremiah uses the phrase twelve times over, a number suggestive of Israël. Hosea 6:11, Joel 3:1 and Zephaniah 3:20 also should be read. In the strictly literal sense of the term Job was never in ‘captivity’, and in the prophetic references to the captivity of Israël, much more than physical bondage or exile is intended.

Did Balaam know the story of Job? We cannot tell, but he could easily have been acquainted with the life of this great man of the East, and might even have had him in mind when he said, ‘Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his’ (Num. 23:10), for it is the same word that is translated ‘latter end’ in Job 42:12. Prophecy concerning Israel has much to say concerning ‘the last days’, ‘the latter days’ and ‘the latter end’. Deuteronomy 8 opens with a reference to trials and chastenings, but is has in view ‘good at thy latter end’ (8:16). ‘There is hope in thine end’ said Jeremiah to the captivity of his day (Jer. 31:17). In every way the book of job is seen to take its rightful place in the forefront of revealed truth.

By the time that Moses had been raised up to be the deliverer and lawgiver of the chosen people, the testimony of tradition had become distorted and valueless as may be seen in the vain endeavour of Job’s three friends to solve his problem by appeals to that source. The testimony associated with the stars had become corrupted, the day was drawing near when a great prophet should be raised up to give to Israël, and through them to the world, a written revelation of Truth. Moses opens the book of Genesis with the sublime words ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’. If his own mind and that of others in Israël to whom he had shown the book of Job upon his return from the land of Midian had been prepared by the lengthy appeal to the wonders of creation that occupy the closing chapters of the book of Job, the epitome of Genesis 1:1 would come with even greater force. To us who read the book of Genesis and have not the knowledge supplied by the book of Job, the entry of the serpent in Genesis 3 is an enigma. Moses and those who had read the book of Job would have been prepared for such initial intrusion and would have seen the attack upon Adam and Eve in the light of the subsequent attack upon one of the woman’s seed.

The lesson for us who are teachers or students, seems to be that where possible, students and teachers should make themselves acquainted with the book of Job as a necessary preparation for the greater study of all Scripture. Let us rejoice that we not only hear of the patience of Job, but also that we have ‘seen the end of the LORD’ wherein we find the solution not only of Job’s problems, but also of the age-long problem concerning all who pass through the wilderness of this world, and the way which leads to the goal of the ages, when all tears shall be wiped away, Satan and his seed destroyed, and God All in all. Job’s experience provides the pattern of all prophecy. Even the name ‘Job’ means ‘enmity’ or one ‘attacked’, and occurs for the first time in Genesis 3:15.

The earliest recorded forecast of the last days is found in Genesis 49, uttered by Jacob on his deathbed. When Jacob gathered his sons together to tell them what should befall them in the last days, those sons concerning whom most is said, and who include in their forecast references to either Christ or Antichrist, are Judah, Dan and Joseph; this will be most readily seen if we present the outline of Jacob’s prophecy as follows:

Genesis 49:3-27

A 3-7.            a Reuben           Water.  Simeon           Scattered.  Levi          Divided.

B 8-12.           Judah            The LION.  THE SCEPTRE            SHILOH.

A 13-15.         a Zebulon          Ships.  Issachar             Rest.

B 16-18.         Dan           The Serpent and Adder.  e SALVATION.

A 19-21.          a Gad           Troop.  Asher           Bread.  c Naphtali              Hind.

B 22-26.         Joseph          Fruitful bough.  e THE SHEPHERD           THE STONE.

A 27. Benjamin          Wolf.

Judah is the tribe whose latter day prophecy links it with the prevailing Lion, and with the sceptre, lawgiver and Shiloh. The One who had prevailed to open the scroll was, moreover, ‘The root of David’. This title, taken together with that of Revelation 22:16, ‘I am the root and the offspring of David’ is often explained, by saying that Christ was not only the son of David (the offspring), but also as the root whence David sprang. We rejoice to know that He who was David’s son was also David’s Lord, but in what special way David sprang from Christ we fail to see in Scripture; neither is there any need for such an idea. The ‘root’ of David seems to be an allusion, if not a reference back to Isaiah 11:1, ‘And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots’; the stem really means the stump of a tree after it has been cut down, and the figure exactly fits the apparent destruction of the royal line of David in our Lord’s day. Christ is the Branch that grows out of his roots, for, in verse 10, the prophet continues, ‘And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse … to it shall the Gentiles seek’. If the title ‘root of David’ denotes the source from whence David sprang, and not the same as the offspring of David, then ‘the root of Jesse’ indicates the same. All are agreed, however, that ‘the root of Jesse’ is but another way of speaking of Him Who should ‘grow out of his roots’. Malachi 4:1 shows that ‘root’ as well as ‘branch’ is used to indicate posterity. The prophecy of the Apocalypse is far more concerned to show the fulfilment of the promise concerning the Seed of David, than it is to prove the deity of Christ.

The Lord is seen as the great King, prevailing as the Lion of Judah, concerning Whom alone a sceptre is mentioned, and as the root of David, Who, being raised from the dead, sits on David’s throne.

One further and all-important truth is revealed in the vision concerning this kingly overcomer. The Lion of Judah and the root of David is the Lamb of God. When He first came amongst men as the sent One of God, He came not as a Lion, but was pointed out as the ‘Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world’. When John beholds Him in His risen glory, he still sees Him not as a Lion, but as a Lamb; when the day of His wrath comes, and strikes terror in the breast of all, we read of the wrath of the Lamb, not the Lion; when the marriage of heaven’s King is announced, it is the marriage of the Lamb, not of the Lion. More pointedly, perhaps, is Revelation 6:1, where it is the Lamb Who opens the seals, although the elder said it was the Lion that he saw. We are not to understand that He Who once was the Lamb has now become the Lion. No, the Lamb it is that is seen right through the prophecy, the Lion never. Christ as the Lamb fulfills all the prophecies that speak of Him as Lion and King, for the Lamb bears the marks of sacrifice, ‘standing as having been slain’. Without the redemption concerning which the slain Lamb speaks, the throne of David would remain vacant, and the Lion of Judah would never be known. Heaven is about to burst forth in a new song, and it is to the Lamb they sing, and of His redemption, not to the Lion and of His strength.

Throughout the Scriptures there runs the teaching that is summed up in this vision of the enthroned Lamb. Man by nature would give the battle tot the strong. God has throughout glorified humility and meekness, everything in fact that goes with a lamblike character. Those who suffer, overcome; while those who appear before their fellows as the greatest conquerors have suffered the greatest of defeats.

Three features are emphasized in this prophecy:

The sceptre and Shiloh.     Salvation.     The Shepherd and the Stone.

Up to this prophetic utterance of Jacob there is no hint that Royal dignity was to be associated with Judah. The words ‘until Shilo come’, while being interpreted in a number of ways, must refer to a person. John seized upon the meaning of the word ‘Siloam’ in John 9:7, namely ‘sent’ and ‘The Sent One’ is a dominant title of Christ in that Gospel.

Previous to the coming of Christ, Judah enjoyed the pre-eminence, but after that event, the crown and the natural pre-eminence passed.

We find too that Simeon was indeed ‘divided in Jacob, and scattered in Israël’, the inheritance of Simeon falling within the bounds of Judah. Reuben the firstborn also, instead of enjoying a central position, finds his inheritance on the other side of Jordan.

The value of this initial prophecy of the last days is that we can see that some if not all of the forecasts have had a primary fulfillment, anticipating the fuller realization and the end of the days. Balaam also, even though unwillingly, looked down the ages and said, ‘I will advertise thee what this people shall do to thy people in the latter days … there shall come a STAR … and a SCEPTRE’ (Num. 24:14,17).

The Prophetic Song of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy 32, and references to the last days are also found in Deuteronomy 4:30; 8:16 and 31:29.

Coming to the Prophets themselves, Isaiah 2:2-5 opens the record, and Micah 4:1-4 closes that list with almost identical words. The references to the later days and the last end that intervene, are of secondary interest as an examination of the passages in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel will show, leaving the references in the book of Daniel, and the one reference in Hosea to fill up the story of restoring grace thus:

A     Isaiah 2:2-5.

  • The last days. The Mountain of the Lord’s house. Many nations will go. The law shall go forth of Zion. Nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither learn war any more.
  • The house of Jacob is called upon to ‘walk in the light of the Lord’.

B    The last end and latter times of Daniel.

B     The return of Israel after their long lo-ammi estrangement (Hosea 3:5).

  • The words quoted above repeated in Micah, until we come to verse 4. Then it adds the peaceful figure of sitting under vine and fig tree, and instead of the call to Jacob to walk in the light of the Lord, Micah says:

A    ‘For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever (Micah 4:5).

This closing portion of Micah 4:1-5 suggest a very great difference between Israël in Jerusalem, a kingdom of Priests, and the rest of the nations at that time still walking in the name of false gods. As this appears to be a prophecy embracing the Millennium, we must allow for this reference to ‘his god’ among other such features as ‘feigned obedience’ and the warlike rebellion at the end.

Let us examine Isaiah 2:2-5 a little closely. This precious glimpse of the days of restoration and blessing is fully expanded in the second part of the prophecy (Isa. 40-66) and therefore, as our space is limited, we will be content with the following outline.

Isaiah 2:2-5

A    2:2.          The true exaltation (Heb. nasa) ‘The Lord’s house’.

B    2:3.

a     Many people.

b      Come ye, let us go … to the … God of Jacob.

c      We will walk in His paths.

C    2:3.        

d      Out of Zion.

e      Shall go forth the law.

e      And the word of the Lord.

d      From Jerusalem.

A    2:4.         False exaltation (Heb. nasa) ‘Not lift up sword’.

B    2:5

a    House of Jacob.

b     Come ye, let us walk.

c     In the light of the Lord.

Here, in these few sentences, we have compressed the glorious future that awaits the nations of the earth when Israël shall at last enter into their inheritance and become a kingdom of priests. Not until the nations cease to ‘learn’ war, will peace be more than an illusion.

Isaiah 2:2 is one of several prophecies that indicate that Jerusalem will be the centre of God’s dealings with the earth, which will anticipate and manifest to the surrounding nations what the New Heavens and New Earth will be like when the time arrives. So we read:

  • ‘For, behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind’.

BUT

  • ‘Be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create: for, behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy’ (Isa. 65:17,18). ‘They shall not hurt nor destroy IN ALL MY HOLY MOUNTAIN:

FOR

  • ‘The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isa. 11:9). ‘And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek’ (Isa. 11:10).

So far as the oceans of the world are concerned, the waters do not coverthe sea, the sea covers the ocean bed of earth. The explanation of this figure is found in Ezekiel 47. From under the threshold of the house of the Lord, Ezekiel saw waters flowing eastward. When these waters were measured they were first to the ankles, then to the loins, and finally were too deep to be passed over:

  • ‘These waters issue out toward the east country, and go down into the desert, and go into the sea: which being brought forth into the sea, the waters shall be healed … from En-gedi’ (Ezek. 47:8-10).

This fixes the ‘waters’ and ‘the sea’ of Isaiah’s prophecy, for En-gedi is on the banks of the Dead Sea. The miraculous healing of this symbolic sea of death comes from a restored and blessed Israël while the rest of the world is still in darkness, the prophetic future follows the pattern that is expressed in the words: ‘Among all nations, BEGINNING at Jerusalem‘ (Luke 24:47). At the same time that the Redeemer comes to Zion darkness will cover the earth, and to the glory that will be seen upon Israël, the Gentiles shall come (Isa. 59:20; 60:1-3).

When the Lord reigns in Zion, He will rule in the midst of ENEMIES, and while ISRAËL will offer themselves willingly, the Lord will have to strike through kings in the day of His wrath, judging among the heathen, and filling the places with the dead bodies. These words ‘strike through’, ‘wrath’ and ‘dead bodies’ cannot be construed into terms of universal peace, for that does not come until after Israël are restored and blessed. If at the close of the Millennium (1000 years) THAT kingdom which ends with the rising of Gog and Magog, and during which feigned obedience has been rendered, was all that the Redeemer could deliver up to the Father, then the goal of the ages, ‘that God may be all in all’ will never be reached, and we are indeed of all men ‘most miserable’.

The Prophecy of Daniel contains a series of questions concerning the character of ‘the last days’, there translated ‘the last end’, ‘the latter time’, ‘the latter’ days, and ‘the end of’ these things. Associated with these words are ‘the indignation’ (Dan. 8:19) and ‘kingdom’ (Dan. 8:23) where the subdivision of Alexander’s Empire into four, foreshadows a similar subdivision in the last days, either SYRIA, EGYPT, MACEDONIA or ASIA MINOR, out of one of which the last dictator shall arise (Daniel 8). Hence the rising important of ‘The Middel East’ from 1897 – 2018!

In Daniel 10:14 Gabriel announced to Daniel that he had come to make him understand ‘what shall befall thy people in the latter days’, and this is the theme of Daniel 11 and 12. At the end there shall be ‘a time of trouble such as never was’, and a deliverance and a resurrection of all ‘found written in the book’ (Dan. 12:1-3). Daniel was then told to shut up the words and seal the book ‘even unto the time of the end’, and it is the office of the book of the REVELATION to open up the prophecies of Daniel, and neither book can be understood without the other.

Two strange and unexplained periods of time are found at the close, namely the one thousand two hundred and ninety days and the one thousand three hundred and thirty-five days. These days date ‘from the time the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination of desolation set up’ and so run on after the close of the three and a half years’ tribulation. Some commentators think that the extra thirty days will cover the period of national repentance (Zech. 12:10-14; 13:1), when a fountain shall be opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness, and that the further forty-five days will be occupied by regathering the dispersed and outcast of Israël, but it must be confessed that this is largely a matter of conjecture.

Out: ‘Prophetic Truth’ / Charles H. Welch

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www.israeltoday.nl / Het nieuws vanuit Israel dat anderen niet brengen … … … …

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THE CHAPEL OF THE OPENED BOOK / LONDON

www.bereanonline.org

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Doe je graag aan Bijbelstudie?

www.everread.nl

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Bediening van het geheimenis – Efeze 3:9

www.levendwater.org / zie: Audio o.a. dhr. D. van Zuijlekom

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Gerard J.C. Plas

 

 Posted by at 16:56
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