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.
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*
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.
- 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).
- 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).
- 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:
- Covenant (55:3; 61:8; cf. note on Genesis 9:16);
- kindness (54:8);
- salvation (45:17);
- excellency; (60:15);
- joy (51:11);
- name (56:5);
- light (60:19,20);
- sign (55:13); and
- 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.
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 position of the overcomers upon our attention. Balancing Revelation 14:13 is Revelation 20:6. In connection with those who die in the Lord, we have those who take part in the ‘first resurrection’. These are seen not only living but reigning, and specific reference is made to the Beast and his image. In the first reference, we learn that their works do follow them, i.e. for reward, in the second we see that award being enjoyed.
The pair of blessing (Rev. 16:15; 22:14) again focus our attention on the martyrs of this anti-christian period, the white robes and white garments being expressly used in connection with such overcomers. Right to the tree of life and entrance into the city is theirs, as distinct from the healing property of the leaves of the tree which is for ‘the nations’. Further, a distinction is made between those who enter into the city and those of the nations that walk in the light of it (Rev. 21:24-27 and 22:14,15).
The focal point, the central blessing, is that which rest upon those who are called to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:9). It is important to remember that those thus ‘called’ cannot be the wife, but refers to those who will have the honour to attend that great day of the Marriage of the Lamb. Those who were called, it will be remembered in Matthew 22:1-4, refused to come, even after the a second invitation had been sent them, and consequent upon the burning of the city, the call went outside the confines of Israël ‘and the wedding was furnished with guest’ (Matt. 22:10). The opening blessing (Rev. 1:3), and its echo in Revelation 22:7,8, stresses the prophetic character of this book, and moreover by its emphasis upon reading, hearing and keeping the sayings of this Prophecy, bears a testimony to the intensely practical purpose for which this and all other prophetic portions of the Scripture were written.
What God has blessed, let no man treat with indifference.
THE NEW HEAVEN AND THE NEW EARTH (Rev. 21:1)
A New Approach and a Fresh Appraisal
We are well aware that the new heaven and earth comes after the Millennium, but it is so important to see this great epoch not only in its own light, but in relation that it holds with Israël, Jerusalem and Prophecy generally, that we will not allow a mere academic objection to prevent its inclusion in this series.
It is natural with the way in which the correspondences of Scripture are arranged, for the creation of Genesis 1:1 to be placed over against the creation of Revelation 21:1 as follows: C
- Creation First Heaven and Earth – Gen. 1:1
- Gen. 1:3 to Rev. 20:15 Present Adamic World – First Death and Second Death
- Creation New Heaven and Earth – Rev. 21:1
If, however, the new heaven and the new earth represent ‘the last syllable of recorded time’ then they will constitute that perfect kingdom which the Son shall deliver up to God, even the Father, ‘that God may be in all in all’, and once again, there will be many students of Scripture who will believe that such is the case. We should expect if this be so, seeing that the apostle Paul had a ministry that went beyond the limits of the kingdom of Israël and the New Jerusalem, we should find him referring again and again to this great goal of the ages. As a matter of act, the only New Testament writers who speak of the new heaven and new earth, are Peter in his second epistle 3:10-13 and John in the book of Revelation.
True, Paul affirms that if any man be in Christ Jesus he is a new creature (2 Cor. 5:17) and approaches the language of Revelation 21:4 when he says, ‘old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new’ (2 Cor. 5:17). In 2 Corinthians 12:2 he tells us he was ‘caught away (not “up”) to the third heaven’, which in verse 4 he refers to as ‘Paradise’, and this may refer to the new heavens of Revelation 21 and to the Paradise of Revelation 22. Again in Romans 8:19-22 he looks to a day when creation’s groan shall cease, but it remains true nevertheless, that only Peter and John actually use the term, ‘new heavens and new earth’.
All this time, of course, we have been speaking with the book shut. The moment we ‘open the book’ at Revelation 21:1 we are confronted with features and facts that give us pause. The new heaven and new earth take the place of ‘the first’ heaven and earth. The Companian Bible’s comment here is ‘first, or former, as verse 4’. ‘Former’ is the translation given in the Twentieth Century New Testament. This is the translation of the Greek word protos, by the Authorized Version itself in Revelation 21:4, ‘the former things are passed away’. When Luke wrote in Acts 1:1 of the Gospel he had already written, he said, ‘the former treatise have I made’ not ‘the first’. So also, the ‘first’ covenant and the ‘first’ tabernacle of Hebrews 8:13 and 9:8 speak of the ‘former’ of the two covenants or tabernacles under review. The tabernacle in the wilderness was not the ‘first’ that ever was, for Abraham, Isaac and Jacob dwelt in ‘tabernacles’ long before Moses was born. The ‘first’ covenant of Hebrews 8:13 was not the first that ever was, but the ‘former’ of two, the second’ covenant being more often called new’, just as we find the ‘second’ heaven and earth that the apostle had in mind in Revelation 21, is called ‘new’ likewise:
- ‘And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the former heaven and the former earth had passed away; and there was no more sea’ (Rev. 21:1).
We immediately start the inquiry, to what does the apostle refer, when he says ‘the former’, if he has in mind ‘the former of two’? He cannot refer to Genesis 1:1, for a secondary and lesser ‘heaven’ intervenes, and is called raqia, ‘an expansion’ (firmament, Authorized Version). The ‘former heaven and earth’ must be the reconstituted realm prepared, during the time covered by Genesis 1:3 to 2:3 for Adam. Isaiah describes this ‘heaven’ as having been stretched out as a curtain, and ‘as a tent to dwell in’ (Isa. 40:22).
The Hebrew word translated ‘tent’ is ohel, rendered frequently ‘tabernacle’, and this tabernacle was erected at the command of God, that He might ‘dwell’, Hebrew shaken (Exod. 25:8), in the ‘tabernacle’, Hebrew mishkan (Exod. 25:9). Because Abraham looked for the heavenly Jerusalem, he too was willing to dwell in a ‘tabernacle’, anticipating the purpose of the New Jerusalem, when the Millennium reign is over, for John follows his reference to the new heaven and the new earth by saying:
- ‘And I … saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them, and be their God’ (Rev. 21:2,3).
If this passage stood alone, we might wonder whether John had retraced his steps and after speaking of the new heaven and earth, left that, the ultimate goal of the ages, to return to the Millennium Jerusalem. This, however, cannot be allowed, as John is but echoing in connection with the heavenly city, what Isaiah long before had written concerning the earthly city. Isaiah 65, 66 and Revelation 21 form a threefold cord not easily broken by an antagonist, and not wished to be broken by any believer who holds the Scriptures in reverence.
Isaiah 65:17,18 places the newly-created heavens and earth over against the newly-created Jerusalem, thus:
A For, behold I create.
B New heavens and a new earth.
C Former not remembered. Glad news at mentioned of.
A That which I create.
C A rejoicing. Her people a joy.
Both the new heaven and earth and Jerusalem are ‘created’ and so John speaks of the holy city as ‘New Jerusalem’, but only when it is seen or spoken of as ‘descending out of heaven from God’ (Rev. 3:12; 21:2).
The second reference by Isaiah to the new heavens and the new earth is in Isaiah 66:22:
- ‘For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before Me, saith the LORD, so shall your seed and your name remain’.
It is indubitable, and not open to question, that Scripture purposely associates Jerusalem, earthly and heavenly, with the new heaven and new earth. By admitting this, however, we admit much more. We return to these passages by Isaiah and John to establish the next point. Both Isaiah 65 and Revelation 21 assure us that:
- ‘The voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying’ (Isa. 65:19).
- ‘And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain’ (Rev. 21:4).
- ‘The former troubles are forgotten’ (Isa. 65:16).
- ‘The former shall not be remembered’ (Isa. .65:17).
- ‘For the former things are passed away’ (Rev. 21:4).
Once again no further argument is necessary to establish this second feature, ‘no more’ death, sorrow, crying or pain. By admitting this, however, we must admit very much more. Upon continuing our reading of the passages in Isaiah, we discover the presence of ‘death’ and ‘sin’ and ‘curse’.
- ‘No babe shall die there any more in infancy, nor any old man who has not lived out his years of life; he who dies youngest lives a hundred years; anyone dying under a hundred years must be accursed of God’ (Isa. 65:20, Moffatt).
In Isaiah 66 we have something even more terrible to contemplate as being in the newly-created heaven and earth,
- ‘And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh’ (Isa. 66:24).
When we come to Revelation after the words already quoted from verse 4 ‘no more death’, we continue without break to the overcomer, verse 7, where reward is placed in contrast with:
- ‘The fearful, and unbelieving, the abominable and others whose end is ‘the lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone’ (see Isa. 66:24 ‘the fire not quenched’) which is the second dead.
Those thus denominated are linked with the Great White Throne judgment (Rev. 20:14, ‘the lake of fire, the second dead’), which brings the Great White Throne, which is not seen until ‘the earth and heaven fled away’, into the new heaven and new earth of Revelation 21:1.
The second reference to this exclusion from the New Jerusalem tells us that such were not found ‘in the Lamb’s book of life’ (Rev. 21:27), which again links up with Revelation 20:15, ‘And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire’. It should be remembered that Gehenna was a possible alternative to the blessing of the meek that shall inherit the earth in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5:5 and 22).
The word ‘abhorring’ in Isaiah 66:24 occurs but once more in the Scriptures, namely in Daniel 12:2 where it is translated ‘contempt’, and will be the fate of those not found ‘written in the book’ as in Revelation 20:15 and 21:27. During the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 we learn from Josephus that 110,000 of Israël perished, and that many were thrown over the walls into the gorge, and we know that Gehenna was situated in just such a place and into his fire and brimstone the carcases of criminals were thrown. What took place at the siege of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 may foreshadow what will again take place in the last days.
Everything written in Revelation 21, Isaiah 65 and 66 presents us with an apparent contradiction. No death, yet carcases; no crying, yet carcases, premature death, no more curse, yet some being accursed. How can these things be?
The answer is awaiting us at the close of Isaiah 65. The millennium conditions are still there:
- ‘The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock’ (Isa. 65:25).
The prophecy of Genesis 3:14 is ‘God said unto the serpent … and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life’, and at the selfsame time that the wolf and the lamb shall feed together, Isaiah 65 adds,
- ‘Dust shall be the serpent’s meat’ (vs. 25).
To feed on ashes, to lick the dust, to be brought to dust, for the dust to be turned into brimstone (Psa. 72:9; Isa. 49:23), ‘to lick the dust like a serpent’ (Micah 7:17), are all recognized figures of speech, that are concentrated in one verse of Revelation, namely in Revelation 20:10:
- ‘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’ (or unto the ages of the ages).
That this lake of fire, second death, torment, feeding on ashes, goes on beyond the Millennial kingdom into the new heaven and the new earth, is inescapable. The apparent contradiction however is solved by the closing sentence of Isaiah 65:25:
- ‘They shall not hurt nor destroy IN ALL MY HOLY MOUNTAIN, saith the LORD’.
The holy mountain of the Lord is not the whole wide earth. Jerusalem will be newly created and a centre of light and truth surrounded by the rest of the earth, occupied by the nations that survive the decimation of the time of the end. Isaiah himself has told us what will take place:
- ‘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 the 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 fo forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem’ (Isa. 2:2,3).
Zechariah tell us that every one that is ‘left’ of all the nations that come against Jerusalem shall be obliged to go year by year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And while there is envisaged the possibility of default and punishment upon some of the nations at that time, Israël will have become a kingdom of priests and the words associated with Aaron’s mitre will now upon the very bells of the horses. There will be no sorrow, no pain, no death ‘in all My holy mountain’ but there will be in the outlying lands of the nations, until the Son of God puts down all rule and all authority. We know that right through the period covered by the new heaven and new earth there will still be ‘death’ somewhere, for the very last enemy to be destroyed before ‘the end’ is death (1 Cor. 15:24-28).
Isaiah, who wrote the words just quoted from Isaiah 65:25, had previously written in chapter 11, and had added to them another term that helps to explain the difference between Jerusalem where there will be no death, and the rest of the earth that will be slowly and increasingly brought into this blessed condition:
- ‘For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea’ (Isa. 11:9).
‘For’ is a logical connection. It links the restriction to the ‘holy mountain’ with the subsequent extension to the outside world. What ‘waters’ cover what ‘sea’? Ezekiel 47 will supply the answer. From the threshold of the Lord’s house, the prophet saw a mighty river flowing, upon the bank of which were very many trees. It was explained to the prophet that:
- ‘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’ (Ezek. 47:8).
Verse 10, by speaking of En-gedi, reveals to us that ‘the sea’ that is ‘healed’ is ‘the Dead Sea’. What a picture of the healing centre Israël and Jerusalem are destined to be when the new heavens and the new earth, together with the new Jerusalem, shall at length fulfill their blessed purpose, and commence the healing of the nations which at long last will become that perfect kingdom which the Son of God can deliver up to the Father, that God may be all in all. We must therefore revise the diagram:
- Gen. 1:1 The Beginning – Genesis 1:3 – The Former Heaven and Earth. The First or former Adam. Paradise lost – Gen. 3.
- 1 Cor. 15:24-28 The End – Rev. 21, 22 – The New Heaven and Earth. The Second Man and the last Adam. Paradise restored – Rev. 22.
A Note on the Use of the Singular and Plural of the word ‘Heaven’
When we open the New Testament and read about ‘heaven’, we discover that in the gospel of Matthew, the Greek word ouranos occurs 84 times, and of this number, 58 occurrences employ the word in the plural and the remaining 26 use it in the singular. Of this latter number the Authorized Version translated the word ‘air’ three times, and ‘sky’ three times. In one verse the plural form and the singular are found together:
- ‘The stars shall fall from the heaven (sing.), and the powers of the heavens (plur.) shall be shaken’ (Matt. 24:29).
Where the words, ’till heaven and earth pass’ and ‘heaven and earth shall pass’ (Matt. 5:18 and 24:35) the word ‘heaven’ is in the singular.
We make no pretence of having arrived at an understanding of these differences; such would necessitate a patent consideration of every one of these 84 references. We do observe however the following features, ‘the air’, ‘the sky’ and ‘the heaven’ that will pass away, are all in the singular in Matthew’s Gospel. When we turn to the book of the Revelation we note a complete reversal. Here the word ouranos occurs 54 times, and out of that number, one occurrence only is in the plural, namely Revelation 12:12, ‘rejoice, ye heavens’. We find, therefore, 53 occurrences of the word ‘heaven’ in the singular.
- ‘It is heaven, in the singular that ‘fled away’ (Rev. 20:11).
- ‘It is heaven, in the singular that is made ‘new’ (Rev.. 21:1).
- ‘It is from heaven, in the singular that the New Jerusalem from God descends (Rev. 3:12; 21:2,10).
While therefore we acknowledge our limitations and will not build a doctrine upon the evidence we have assembled, what we have found and can examine, is seen to be in line with the thought that the whole book of the Revelation is limited in its scope, even as the new heaven takes the place, not of the heavens of Genesis 1:1 but of the firmament, the curtain stretched as a tent (Isa. 40:22) which passes away at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:11; 21:1).
Should the reader still entertain doubts as to the limits we have set to the new heavens and the new earth, let him ponder the closing verses of Isaiah 66, where in direct association with the new heavens and the new earth we read:
- ‘And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against Me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched: and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh’ (Isa. 66:24).
Such a state of affairs does not coincide with generally accepted views on ‘The new heaven and the new earth’.
THE NATIONS AND THE CAMP OF THE SAINTS
We postponed an examination of the terms, ‘the nations’, the ‘camp of the saints’ and ‘the beloved city’ which are mentioned in the Millennial chapter (Rev. 20) until the present article. Psalm 72 is the prayer of David for his son Solomon, and in a fuller prophetic sense for His greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Among other features that David foresaw concerning this kingdom some refer to the nations, as distinct from his own people Israël. His dominion is to be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring their presents, the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea all kings shall fall down before Him: ALL NATIONS shall serve Him; ALL NATIONS shall call Him blessed.
As we have said already we can only include such a prophetic foreview in the Millennium by inference, but as it is directly connected with the kingdom of David’s Son, the inference appears to be justified. At some time God is to inherit ALL NATIONS (Psa. 82:8), and at some time ALL NATIONS shall come and worship before the Lord (Psa. 86:9). ALL NATIONS will one day ‘flow unto’ the house of the Lord, and He shall judge among the nations, so that nation shall not lift up sword against nation, nor learn war any more (Isa. 2:1-4). In the day when the ‘lion shall eat straw like the ox’ an ensign shall be set up for the nations (Isa. 11:7-12). When the Lord of hosts shall REIGN in mount Zion, the moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed, for He will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail spread over all nations, at the time when He will swallow up death in victory, and wipe away tears from off all faces (Isa. 24:23; 25:7,8). Similarly when the Redeemer comes to Zion, the words follow immediately:
- ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee. For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people … the Gentiles shall come to thy light … for the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish’ (Isa. 60:1-2).
When Israël can be likened to a Bridegroom and a Bride, the Lord will cause His praise to spring forth before ALL the NATIONS (Isa. 61:11). This will coincide with Israël becoming ‘Priests of the Lord’ (Isa. 61:6) and when Jerusalem shall be called Hephzi-bah, ‘My delight is in her’ (Isa. 62:4). ALL NATIONS and tongues shall come and see the glory of the Lord and the chapter that contains the promise, leads up to the ‘new heavens and the new earth’ (Isa. 66:22), which must be read together with Revelation 20 and 21.
At the close of the Revelation we read that the nations of them that are saved shall walk in the light of the heavenly Jerusalem and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory and honour into it, while the leaves of the tree of life shall be for the healing of the nations. ‘The nations’ are mentioned but twice in Revelation 20, and in both references are associated with the deception of Satan.
Nations are most evidently on the earth during the Millennium, but it is not the purpose of Revelation 20 to develop this aspect of the subject, the ONLY specific passage dealing with the Millennium does not enlarge upon their place in that kingdom. On the contrary, it reserve ALL references to ‘nations’ to the climax act of rebellion at the close, which discrimination must be accepted as a divine direction to our thought if we accept the inspiration of all Scripture.
The Camp of the Saints (Rev. 20:9)
When we read in Revelation 20:9 of ‘the camp of the saints’ most of us have conjured up a vision of peaceful, idyllic bliss, an extended ‘feast of Tabernacles’ with all the accompaniments of perfect peace. When, however, we put into practice that infallible rule of all true exegesis, speaking in words ‘which the Holy Ghost teacheth, comparing spiritual things with spiritual’, instead of investing the words of Scripture with the colourings of our own theories, the conception that the Millennial Kingdom is one of universal, unqualified peace is rudely shattered. The Greek word for camp (one of the words which the Holy Ghost teacheth) is parembole, and in six out of the ten occurrences it is translated ‘castle’ (Acts 21:34,37; 22:24; 23:10,16,32).
Here we have no peaceful, idyllic camp, but a castle, with ‘soldiers and centurions’, ‘captains and chains’ and all the associations of military preparedness and iron strength. The word occurs three times in Hebrews. One it is translated ‘armies’ and twice ‘camp’ (Heb. 11:34; 13:11,13). When we turn to the Septuagint we discover that this Greek word is used to translate, in the majority of cases, the Hebrew machaneh, which meets us for the first time in Genesis 32:2 where we read, ‘this is God’s host: and he called the name of that place Mahanaim‘. Here the LXX uses the Greek word parembole. Parembole is also used by the LXX to translate the Hebrew machaneh (host) in Exodus 14:24, where the context is Pharaoh’s army, with its horses and chariots. The book of Numbers devotes several chapters to the formation of the camp of Israël, and the words of Numbers 1:3, ‘all that are able to go forth to war in Israël’ are repeated thirteen times over in that one chapter. This is ‘the camp’ of Israël, a warlike, disciplined company, with the Tabernacle and the ministering families in the midst (Num. 2:17).
‘Castle’, ‘camp’, ‘army’, these are the three words which translate parembole in the New Testament. The castle of the Romans, the army of aliens, the camp of the saints. The LXX uses the substantive parembole and the verb parembole in Exodus 14:9 of the Egyptian ‘army’ and of Israël’s ‘encamping’. The Levites were appointed to take charge over all the Tabernacle and its vessels, ‘and shall encamp round about the Tabernacle … And the stranger that cometh nigh shall be put to death’ (Num, 1:50,51). Special instructions were given in case of war, for the sounding of trumpets that, ‘when ye blow an alarm, then the camps that lie on the east parts shall go forward’ (Num. 10:5-9). When Israël ‘pitched’ (paremballo) near Moab, Balak having seen what this ‘camp’ had done to the Amorites was sore afraid (Num. 22:1-3). In Psalm 27:3 David uses these words ‘camp’ and ‘host’, in correspondence with the rising up of ‘war’. Taking another great stride we find that the Minor Prophets still retain this warlike meaning:
- ‘And the LORD shall utter His voice before His ARMY: for His CAMP is very great’ (Joel 2:11).
This, moreover, is in connection with signs in the heavens, that place it in ‘the day of the LORD’ (Joel 2:11). Amos also knew that a ‘camp’ could be associated with being ‘slain with the sword’ (Amos 4:10). Zechariah 14 speaks of the investment of Jerusalem ‘to battle’, and a plague is sent upon all the people that have fought against Jerusalem … in these TENTS (Zech. 14:11,12,15). From one end of the Old Testament to the other, and in seven out of the ten references in the New Testament, ‘the camp’ is associated with war, soldiers and armies. It is impossible to ignore this for the sake of supporting a ‘private interpretation’ when we come to the references in Revelation 20. The moment that we see that this is ‘so’, our vision is cleared and we are enabled to see something else, for true is one, and clarifying of one passage illuminates others. Gog and Magog, the nations deceived by the Devil at the close of the Millennium, have one object before them, not conquest of territory, but an attack upon the Holy things of God. The revolt in Psalm 2 has nothing to do with politics, diplomacy, territory or defence of liberty, it is definitely directed ‘against the LORD, and against His Anointed’. It is definitely directed against the ‘restraints’ we see will characterize the closing week of Daniel 9:
- ‘Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us’ (Psa. 2:3).
There is no idea at this stage that any kings had been literally ‘bound in fetters’ (Psa. 105:22; 149:8), the word translated ‘bands’ means also ‘to bind’ one’s soul by an oath (Num. 30:2), and in the language of the Gentile, it is translated ‘a decree’ made by a king (Dan. 6:7,8,9,10,11,12,13,15). Again, the ‘cords’ against which these rulers and kings revolted, is the Hebrew word aboth, used of the ‘wreathen’ work wich bound the breastplate upon the heart of Israël’s High Priest (Exod. 28:14,22,24,25). In Psalm 118:27 these ‘cords’ are used to bind the sacrifice to the horns of the altar. In Hosea 11:4 it is used in the delightful expression, ‘I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love’.
The revolt of Psalm 2 was the revolt against holiness. These kings are exhorted to serve the Lord with fear and to rejoice with trembling; to ‘kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and they perish from the way, when His wrath is kindled but a little (Psa. 2:10-12). Look at the wars that are recorded in the Revelation and note the object of their hostility:
- ‘These (i.e. the ten kings) shall make war with the LAMB’ (Rev. 17:14).
- ‘There was war in heaven: Michael … and the dragon’ (Rev. 12:7).
- ‘The dragon … went to make war with the remnant of her seed’ (Rev. 12:17).
- ‘The beast … shall make war against them (i.e. the two witnesses)’ Rev. 11:7).
- ‘It was given unto him (the Beast) to make war with the saints’ (Rev. 13:7).
And when Gog and Magog are gathered together ‘to battle’ or ‘to make war’ (same word), the objective is still one and the same, ‘the camp of the saints’, the ‘Holy city’ shall be trodden under foot for forty and two months (i.e. the three and a half years, the midst of the week of Daniel 9). The strange words of Revelation 22:11 present a solemn choice in that day, ‘He which is filthy … he that is holy’ for these are THE issues at stake, headed by the Lamb on the one hand and by the Dragon on the other. The immediate destruction by fire from heaven, and the devouring instantly of these enemies of Holiness, is but the climax of a series of such exhibitions of Divine wrath. We have already quoted the general statement, that any unauthorized person that drew near to the sacred Tabernacle was punished by death, but there are instances where this death came about by fire from heaven. The judgment of fire from heaven, and from the Lord, seems to be reserved in the Old Testament for sins of sacrilege, extreme wickedness of false worship. The judgment upon Nadab and Abihu is an example of sacrilege:
- ‘And there went out fire from the LORD, and devoured them’ (Lev. 10:2).
The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are set forth as an example suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (Jude 7).
The conflict between the prophets of Baal and the prophet Elijah illustrates the third class:
- ‘Call ye on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD: and the God that answereth by fire, let Him be God’ (1 Kings 18:24).
An examination of Psalm 97 is illuminating in this context:
- ‘The LORD reigneth’.
- While the earth is called to rejoice.
- A fire goeth before Him, and burneth up His enemies round about Him. So there will be such enemies in the Millennium which will be set up at His coming.
- The hills will melt like wax at His Presence.
- This fiery judgment is related to the worship of graven images.
- The words of Psalm 97:7, ‘Worship Him, all ye gods’ and cited in Hebrew 1:6:
- ‘And when He again bringeth in the firstborn into the world He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him’ (R.V.).
It should be noted that the ‘world’ here is the Greek oikoumene and this leads us to Hebrews 2:5:
- ‘For unto the angels hath He not put in subjection the world (oikoumene) to come, whereof we speak’.
Here once again we reach the crucial point. The rebellion at the end of the Millennium, which is cut short by fire from heaven, is of the same character as those that have precede it, a definite, idolatrous rejection of the supremacy of ‘The Lamb’. The first example (Lev. 10:2) and the last (Rev. 20:9) are much alike in their wording:
- Rev. 20:9. Pur apo tou theou … kai katephagen autous (Textus Receptus).
- Lev. 10:2. (LXX) Pur para kuriou, kai katephagen autous.
The words, ‘the camp of the saints’ are followed by ‘and the beloved city’, but these two descriptions may refer to the same thing, the conjunction kai being sometimes translated ‘even’. ‘Even he is of the eight’ (Rev. 17:11). ‘Even as she rewarded you’ (Rev. 18:6). The ‘camp’ or ‘army’ of the saints would have defended the beloved city, even as the camp of Israël in the wilderness defended the Tabernacle and its holy vessels. Again we ask, if these things are so, then the Millennium is a period of blessing for Israël, but is by no means a period of universal peace. That comes in the succeding ‘Day of God’. (2 Pet. 3:12).
By Charles H. Welch – ‘The Berean Expositor’ – London
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