The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)  – The Great Tribulation

The Great Tribulation

This is the next in our series of ‘The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)’. It is a subject which is spoken of extensively in scripture but is often misunderstood. Two important points:

It is future
It relates to Israel – the church has no part in it.
The notes here are largely from ‘The Scroll of Time’ by John Ashton Savage

The Great Tribulation

This is the next in our series of ‘The Things which shall be Hereafter (Rev 1:19)’.  It is a subject which is spoken of extensively in scripture but is often misunderstood.  Two important points:

  1. It is future
  2. It relates to Israel – the church has no part in it.

The notes here are largely from ‘The Scroll of Time’ by John Ashton Savage (Originally A.S. Rouse, 1893. Available from Chapter Two UK or Bible Truth USA) and various papers from J N Darby.

Plenty has been written, and there have been best seller works dramatising these happenings (e.g Hal Lindsey – this Late Great Planet Earth (Zondervan, 1970) – Amazon.  Here are just a few notes.

Thank God you and I will not be there!

 

Here are a few scriptures:

 

King James Version Darby Version
Daniel 12:1  
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 at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who standeth for the children of thy people; and there shall be a time of distress, such as never was since there was a nation until that time. And at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that is found written in the book.

 

Jeremiah 30:7  
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. 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.
Matthew 24:21  
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. For then shall there be great tribulation, such as has not been from [the] beginning of [the] world until now, nor ever shall be;

 

Popular Misconceptions

 Some argue that the tribulation is past.  It occurred when the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in AD70.  Others would say that the Old Testament references were fulfilled in BC175 when Artitarchus Epiphanes set up an altar to Jupiter in the temple.  These were serious happenings, and many Jews were slain at those time.

There have been arguments that Daniel’s prophecy referred to 70 weeks (of years) i.e.490 years which would point to the crucifixion of Jesus, and He saying that this generation would not pass till these things had been accomplished.

This overlooks two things though:

  1. There is a lot more detail of the time in scripture (see later), and Satan is involved directly. Moreover in Revelation it is included in ‘the things which shall be hereafter’.
  2. The time we are in – the church period – forms no part of biblical prophecy. As I have said below, a brother in our meeting used to say often, ‘The prophetic clock has stopped’. The church will have been raptured (see 1 Thess 4:16), and we will be in heaven – NOT on the earth where these things take place.

 

Some features of the Tribulation

  1. Its duration is defined – 3½ years (or 42 months or 1260 days) – normally thought of as the last half-week of Daniel’s 70 week prophecy (Dan 9:27).
  2. The Roman Empire will have been re-established. True, the EU could well be a vehicle, but a true political unity will be established.  Brexit will have to be undone!
  3. The ‘lot 10 tribes’ of Israel will have to have been recovered for there to be a remnant of Israel – the 144,000.
  4. There will be political groupings:
  • King of North (Iran, Russia (Rosh), Togarmah (Armenia), Tubal (Tbilisi), Gomer (W Europe)
  • King of South (Egypt, Arabia)
  • The East (200,000,000 strong army – India, Pakistan, China etc)
  1. All restraint will have gone – ‘He who restrains – i.e. the Holy Spirit – see 2 Thess 2:7
  2. Satan, and in particular the false prophet will delude, even if it were possible, the elect (Mark 13:12)

Signs of the Times

Many things which happen now might be regarded as signs that the tribulation is imminent.  Examples:

  1. Israel established but insecure
  2. Religious systems supporting Palestine rather than Israel
  3. Establishment of a world religion
  4. Decline of Christianity in the West, but its increase in Africa and Asia.
  5. ‘Wars and rumours of wars’

However, we should not rely too much on these.  The future is in God’s hands and what is to come will not happen until the church has been raptured

 

The Personages

Three personages will dominate the world – the trinity of evil, forcing obedience.  Their subjects will have the mark of the beast.

  1. Satan – ‘the great red dragon’ – the first beast
  2. The Antichrist – the second beast
  3. The false prophet

 

Happenings on Earth

First part

  1. Great wars Rev 6:1-4
  2. Economic instability favouring the rich and harming the poor Rev 6:5-6
  3. Persecution of the Jewish faithful – more martyrs Rev 6:9-11
  4. Natural disasters Rev 6:12-17

Second part

  1. Tyranny – the beasts and kings, and the mark of the beast Rev 13
  2. Satan cast out into the earth Rev 12:9
  3. The Romish church in control over the secular power (the woman riding the beast Rev 17:3) – then this is reversed (the woman hated and the kingdom given to the beast  Rev 17:16)
  4. The army from the East released Rev 9:14-16 – Armageddon
  5. The King of the North will attack Jerusalem and then proceed through to defeat the King of the South – Dan 11

In Matt 24:22 it says, ‘Except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved’ – one can deduce that nuclear bombs will be used – see Rev 16:8, 9:18, Zech 14:12)

 

God’s Testimony on Earth

In spite of everything going on, God will have His testimony on earth

  • The 144,000 faithful Rev 7:4
  • The martyrs Rev 6:11
  • The two witnesses Rev 11:3
  • The ‘man Child’ (Christ formed in the saints on the earth) Rev 12:5
  • The everlasting gospel Rev 14:6

There is no evidence, rather the contrary, that any hearts are turned to God by this testimony

 

God’s Judgment

At the point when all forces will be united against God and the holy city, God will send His angel, and Satan will be bound for 1000 years.  (Rev 20:2)

 

And Afterwards

We have the millennium.  Contrary to popular belief, we shall not be with Christ on the earth.  We are a heavenly family – we reign OVER the earth – Rev 5:10

This is our prospect – and our hope.  Is it yours?

 

Yours in Christ

Sosthenes

May 2017

 

 

 

After the Rapture, the Jewish Remnant – Particularly from the New Testament

 

JohnNelsonDarbyHow does the New Testament distinguish between the earthly hopes and promises to Israel, and the heavenly hopes of the church?   It is absolutely impossible to set aside the promises to Israel – the church odes not replace them [as modern ‘replacement theology’ and would suggest*].  God had made promises to His people which cannot be undone – ‘The gifts and calling of God are without repentance’ (Rom 11:29).   In speaking of Israel, ‘Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers’  (Rom 15:8).  His rejection and death did not set the promises aside. Israel is now in unbelief, but after the rapture of the church, there will be a pious godly remnant owning Christ and owned by Him.

 

The Birth of Christ

In the beginning of Luke, Christ’s birth is announced to Israel.  The angel told Zacharias that many of Israel should turn to the Lord their God, a people prepared for Him (see Luke 1:16-17).  This is a people prepared for the Lord before He comes (not sovereign grace meeting sinners in their need, as it is with us).  Mary was told that Jesus (Jehovah the Saviour) should be called the Son of the Highest, and that He would be given the throne of His Father (see Luke 1:32).   The song of Zacharias (Luke 1:67-79) is wholly composed of the divinely-given celebration of God’s having visited and redeemed His people, and raised up a horn of salvation for them in the house of His servant David (see v.69).  The Jewish shepherds received the announcement of His birth.

But these persons were not typical of those of Israel – they were they believing, pious ‘remnant’.  Later, Anna and others were looking for redemption in Jerusalem: they evidently knew one another.  Simeon saw in ‘light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’. (Luke 2:32).  It is therefore absolutely clear that this remnant, a people prepared for Jehovah, awaiting earthly deliverance.

The Gentiles come later in Luke.

 

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

Matthew’s gospel reveals the way in which Christ was presented to the Jews and rejected by them.  Following His rejection, God’s plans for the remnant were interrupted in order to accomplish something brighter and more blessed [viz. the church, the time of the Spirit, grace and the Christian dispensation*].  But to suppose that God had invalidated His thoughts as to Israel, would be to subvert divine testimonies and undermine God’s faithfulness and testimony.

The old was still in the mind of God to be fulfilled at the appropriate time.  Like the prophets, Matthew, passed over the intervening church period.  He introduced Christ as the accomplishment of prophecy and promise, giving His genealogy and showing how prophecy was being fulfilled – see Matt 1:22,  2:5 &  2:15.    ‘The spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus’  (Rev 19:10).  The church does not have any part in this, already being with Christ.

In the sermon on the mount (Matt 5-7) the ‘ye’ refers to the remnant, not the self-righteous Jews – [nor does it directly refer to Christians*].  They were to expect persecution and a consequent reward in heaven.   Those who were obedient to His teaching were like the man building his house on the rock see (Matt 7:24).  On the other hand,  unbelieving Israel would be cast into prison till the uttermost farthing was paid (Matt 5:26).

 

Christ’s Teaching

In Matt 10, Christ sends out the twelve.  They were not to go to the Gentiles or to the Samaritans, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  They were to declare the kingdom of heaven to be at hand, and to enquire who was worthy, that is to seek the righteous remnant (not poor sinners).  Although they were to speak peace everywhere, the peace would rest only on the sons of peace.   They were to shake the dust off of their feet before those hostile Jews who did not receive them.  Verse 18 goes beyond the Lord’s lifetime and the church period.  The faithful would be brought before the Gentiles (enemies), and be hated of all men for Christ’s name sake.  This ministry was to Israel and would not be completed till the Son of man came.

In Matt 23 the disciples and the people are on Jewish ground.  They were to be subject to the teachers who had set themselves in Moses seat, even if those teachers had rejected the ‘prophets, and wise men, and scribes’ (v. 34).  Their forebears had stoned the prophets, and killed those sent; but still Jerusalem would never listen.  Often would Jesus (Jehovah) have gathered Jerusalem’s children together, but now the desolate city would not see her Lord until she repented, saying,  ‘Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord’ (v. 39).

In Matt 24 His disciples ask about the judgment and the end of the age (not the ‘world’). This again is in line with Jewish thought.  The temple would be destroyed, which of course happened in AD70, but the Lord spoke of what would happen at the end.  False Christs would come, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and some would be deceived, even perhaps the elect. Many troubles would arise: there would be the abomination of desolation of which Daniel spoke, and those who were in Judea would flee to the mountains.  But before His coming, the gospel of the kingdom would be sent to all the Gentiles.  Finally, the Messiah would return and associate Himself with the godly remnant in Judea and Jerusalem.  What language could be plainer?

The whole scene is Jewish, not Christian.  Indeed, it has no direct application whatever to true Christians, because when the Lord comes, they would already have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air.  The Lord will come publicly as Judge, whereas when He comes to rapture His saints, it will be secretly in perfect grace.  A Christian who has been beguiled by thoughts of going through the tribulation, must have renounced Christian hopes or have never understood them.

 

Peter’s Ministry

On the cross the Lord interceded saying, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34).   After the coming of the Holy Spirit, Peter says, ‘And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance, as also your rulers… Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from [the] presence of the Lord, and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, whom heaven indeed must receive till [the] times of [the] restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since time began’ (Acts 3:17-19 Darby).  Repentance was called for, but few repented.  Stephen witnessed to the Jews always resisting the Holy Spirit.  Finally, the most active resister of the Spirit, Saul, was converted.   When the Jews counted themselves unworthy of eternal life, he, now Paul, turned to the Gentiles and the doctrine of the church is revealed to him.

As far as we can see, Peter did not teach the doctrine of the church.  Christians remained strictly attached to Judaism, zealous of the law; priests were obedient to the faith and some even continued to be priests.  Peter never even taught Jesus to be the Son of God, even though it had been revealed to him: his doctrine was, ‘Let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ’ (Acts 2:36).

 

The Church

Now God introduces the sovereign fullness of His grace, a doctrine entirely unknown in the Old Testament.  Paul speaks of the mystery, Jews and Gentiles forming one body, and says ‘The preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest and by prophetic scriptures [not ‘the scriptures of the prophets’], according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith’ (Rom 16:25-26 Darby).  The Father had revealed to Peter that Jesus was the Son of the living God (not merely the Christ).  Following that, Christ could then speak of the church, for it was to be founded on that confession.  But it was still a future thing – ‘on this rock I will build my church’ (Matt 16:18).  In Christ’s death He gathered together into one the children of God; in His resurrection He was declared Son of God with power; in His departure the Comforter came.

Christ’s death and resurrection laid the great foundation for all our blessings, in particular the church.  When the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, came down the church (or the assembly), was formed, and the Lord added daily to the church such as should be saved (see Acts 2:47). Those who previously formed the remnant, became the nucleus of it.  It was a newly instituted body, formed in unity by the Holy Spirit sent down from heaven, and united to the Head, Christ in heaven.   However, His promises to Israel remained sure.

 

Paul’s Ministry

Only Paul speaks of the assembly (or church).  Also Paul is the only apostle who speaks of the rapture of the saints taking place before the appearing of Christ.  This ministry changed everything: we now have a heavenly gathering on earth. Paul’s free ministry, distinct from that of the twelve, had already been started by Stephen.   He saw a heavenly Christ, a Man in glory, and was put to death.  This was individual.

Now Saul, the chief persecutor, when drawing near to Damascus, was arrested by the same Man whom Stephen saw.  From the glory He said, ‘‘Why persecutest thou me?’ … I am Jesus whom thou persecutest’ (Acts 9:4-5).   Lord’s told him that He, Himself was being persecuted, although the objects of that persecution were the Christians.  From this we infer that the Lord’s body was here, identified with its glorified Head in heaven.  This became the starting-point for Paul’s ministry as to the church.  Jew and Gentile were all one; they were all one in Him.  He taught, ‘God hath put all things under his [Christ’s] feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church [assembly], which is his body, the fulness of him who filleth all in all.’ (Eph 1:22-23).

Before God took up the children of Israel as a nation, the saints of God walked in individual faith.  Afterwards, they were individual members of a nation owned as God’s people.  It was a unity in the flesh: the Spirit had nothing to do with it, and it excluded the Gentiles.  After the death and exaltation of Christ, both Jews and Gentiles were reconciled to God through faith, and consequently were made one by the Holy Spirit.  This was the body of Christ, the dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit.

The Greek word for ‘church’ or ‘assembly’, ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia, means ‘a calling out’.  We see it in ‘The Lord added daily to the assembly’ (Acts 2:27 Darby). ‘He set some in the assembly; firstly, apostles; secondly, prophets’ (1 Cor 12:18 Darby).  It is called out to participate in the sufferings of Christ, later for Him to present it to Himself as His bride, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing (See Eph 5:27).  The word ἐκκλησίᾳ/ekklēsia is also applied to the particular assemblies of Christians in different places, because they formed the assembly of God in that place.  No other meaning is possible.

 

The Hope of the Church

The church is heavenly in its calling, and belongs to Christ in heaven.  It forms no part of the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture so simple and clear as we see from   Col 3:4, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’  The church’s hope and glory is Christ Himself.   He is our life; our life is hid with Him; He is our righteousness; the glory given to Him He has given us; we are members of His body; we are of His flesh and of His bones.  We suffer with Him now, but will reign with Him in a future day, conformed to His image.

 

The Rapture

The church has nothing to do on earth with Christ’s appearing or second coming.  She is already spoken of as sitting with Him in heavenly places (see Eph 1:20), so she belongs elsewhere –  she has only yet to be brought there bodily.  Her immediate outlook is her being taken physically to where He is. ‘From heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead in Christ shall rise first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:6).

This being the case, a person who maintains that he does not go to be with Christ until His  appearing, is denying the proper hope and relationship of the church.  Ignorance is one thing, but denial is another.  Grasping the fact of our being with Him at the rapture, not the appearing, changes all our spiritual thoughts and affections.  Our hope is not even to be in glory with Him, wonderful as that is, but it is being with Him.  ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself, that where I am there ye may be also’ (John 14:3), ‘So shall we ever be with the Lord’ (1 Thess 4:17).

There are several ways in which the return of Christ are presented in Scripture:

  1. The general fact: Christ will come again, and we will be with Him. The saints of our dispensation ‘have been made to our God kings and priests; and they shall reign over the earth’ (Rev 5:10 Darby).
  1. The world, evil and in confusion, will ripen into rebellion. The believer knows and believes that at Christ’s appearing and His kingdom, God will judge the the quick and the dead.  It will be an earthly kingdom and an earthly judgment.
  1. The saints of our dispensation will have, through grace, a special association with Christ. They will have met Him in the air.  They will also have been before the judgment-seat of Christ, giving an account of themselves to God, but this part of their privilege, not punitive, for they will already be like Jesus.  He will introduce them into His Father’s house, placing them in the heavenly seat of government with Himself.  This is the rapture of the saints, and it precedes the appearing.

Before the appearing certain events must have occurred.  The world will have become completely apostate, and the man of sin will have been revealed.  The church will already have gone, not being of the world, but risen with Christ.  On the other hand, the rapture does not depend on any earthly event. The Christian’s hope is therefore not a prophetic subject at all.  No one knows when the rapture will take place.

The saints leave the world and worldly religion by going out to meet the Bridegroom. The cry ‘Behold the Bridegroom cometh!’ (Matt 25:6)’ went out at midnight, but it could have been at any time.  We know that the Bridegroom did tarry, and the sense of His coming was lost.  It is the loss of the expectation of immediacy of the Lord’s coming that lays behind the public church’s departure from simplicity, and its fall into clerical authority and worldliness.   It lost its spiritual authority.  In Matthew 24, what leads the wicked servant into mischief is not the denial of the Lord’s coming, but the loss of the sense and present expectation of it.  The Christian is constantly waiting for the Lord to come.

When therefore is the Christian to expect the Lord? – Always.

 

Thessalonians

An example of those who were awaiting the Lord’s return were the newly-converted Thessalonians.  They might not have had much light, but their expectation was a divine witness to the world.  They were not waiting for any events – just waiting.  They saw themselves to amongst those who would be alive and remain at the coming of the Lord (see 1 Thess 4:15).  We need to be like that.

We know that the Thessalonians were distressed about those who had perished for Jesus’ sake, that they would not be here to enjoy His coming.  They were also troubled by false teachers alleging that that day of the Lord was already present.  Paul corrected this error, by showing that the dead would be raised, and then the living go up to meet Christ with them.  He explained that it was an absolute moral absurdity for the Lord’s people to go though the judgment, since they would already be in heaven along with the Judge.  This confirmed their expectation, enlivening their faith, and brightening their hope, despite the persecution.  The terrible persecution was but a pledge from a righteous God that they would have rest and glory, not trouble, when the kingdom came.  The Thessalonians’ minds were therefore re-established, and all was clear and peace.

 

The Tribulation

In Rev 12:10-12, it is said, ‘And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation and strength and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea!’  This is not the rapture, because that will have taken place earlier.  This is in the subsequent seven years.  3½ years before the close (that is the last half-week of Daniel), Satan, the accuser, is cast out of heaven.  Now begins the great wrath of Satan for those living upon the earth.  For one class persecution and death had now ceased; for another it was just going to begin.

As regards our passing through the tribulation (a question which often arises on this matter) the scripture makes it very simple. How do we know that there will be a tribulation?  Scripture tells us.  But equally it makes it clear that the the Jews will in it, and the church not:

  1. I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth’ (Rev 3:10).
  2. These [clearly after the rapture] are they who come out of the great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and have made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ (Rev 7:14).
  3. It is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he [a faithful one of Israel] shall be saved out of it’ (Jer 3:7).
  4. ‘There shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [Israel] even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book’ (Dan 12:1).

The time of temptation, referred to above, shall come to try them who dwell on the earth.  This is more general; it is not the great tribulation of Jeremiah, Daniel, and Matthew, which is exclusively Jewish.  Although the Lord is addressing Philadelphia, one of the churches, He says that they would be kept out of it.

 

Israel and the Appearing

In the epistle to the Romans, specifically chapter 11, we have the general doctrine as to the remnant in Israel.   An elect believing remnant will be grafted into their own olive tree and become one nation – ‘all Israel.’   That could not be the Christian assembly, even with Jewish believers – they had never been broken out of the Jewish olive tree.

In that future day, Israel will be blessed on earth.  ‘He shall come to be glorified in his saints [not to receive them up to Himself], and to be admired in all them that believe’ (2 Thess 1:10).   The remnant of Israel will be blessed in spite of the tribulation.  They form a separate class from unbelieving Israel and the church.  They come in after the sealing of the 144,000 – the elect of the twelve tribes of Israel (see Rev 7:4), experiencing God’s protection, nourishment, refreshment and comfort.  Their position is totally different from ours.

 

Conclusion

We should not confuse the companies or the happenings. The scripture is as plain as can be.  Anybody who confounds the day of Christ with His coming to receive the church does not understand the day we in, nor His coming, nor the church.  Confounding the day of the Lord and His coming to receive the church, is a subversion of the whole nature of the relationship between both Christ and the church, and Christ and the world.   It is far more than a mistake in terms.   The denial of the rapture brings the church down to an earthly position, destroying its whole character.

 

 

Summary by Sosthenes

Based on   ‘The Rapture of the Saints and the Character of the Jewish Remnant’ – Collected Writings vol. 11 (Prophetic 4) page 142 

Scripture marked ‘Darby’ are from the Darby Translation

April 2016

 

 

 

 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – 1&2 Thessalonians

In 1 Thessalonians, we get the Lord’s coming for the blessing of saints; in 1 Thessalonians we get the judgment of unbelievers.

Outline of Bible cover1 Thessalonians

In 1 Thessalonians, we get the Lord’s coming for the blessing of saints; in 1 Thessalonians we get the judgment of unbelievers.

In the first epistle, the saints are associated with the Father, the one true God. They had formerly been used to false gods they were used to, and hostile to the gospel. Now they are converted, in al very lively state, and, through their faith, are a witness in all the world.   They serve the living and true God, and wait for His Son from heaven. They, Gentiles, enjoy the revelation of the Father, and His grace, and are active in service – ‘your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ’ (ch1:3)

In chap. 2, the coming of the Lord Jesus is connected with the apostle’s joy and crown in the saints who had been blest.   In chapter 3, His coming is connected with holiness before the Father, and in chapter 4, we have the full explanation of the rapture of the church to meet Christ at His coming. Verses 15-18 are to a parenthesis, ch. 4:14 linking directly with ch. 5:1, The character of Christ’s coming to the saints is contrasted with His coming to the world. Paul exhorts them and prays that God should keep them till Christ comes.

2 Thessalonians

In 2 Thessalonians the saints had been confused, believing the dreadful persecutions they were in were the day of the Lord. Paul sets them right, as in that day that they would be at rest, and the wicked troubled. ln chapter 2, the apostle writes of Christ’s coming, and their gathering together to Him. This is proof that the day must be future. He then shows them how wickedness on the earth would develop before that day comes. In the last chapter he asks their prayers, and gives them divers exhortations.

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

– Se A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible  for the original

The Importance of Prophecy

Prophecy has two ends:

Detaching us from the world.
Making us intelligent of the character of God, and of His ways towards us.

Satan opposes the truth, and that must include prophecy

The marriage of the Lamb

JN Darby’s Lecture 11 on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, … and she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.

And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; … and the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan. …And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.

And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.  Revelation 12.

Summing Up, and Conclusion.  – A Summary by Sosthens

 

Prophecy has two ends:

  • Detaching us from the world.
  • Making us intelligent of the character of God, and of His ways towards us.

 

Satan opposes the truth, and that must include prophecy.  He says, ‘Follow morality, not doctrine otherwise you might be freed from my power’.  Or ‘Neglect prophecy, because you will learn about the judgment of this world, of which I am the prince’.  Prophecy throws a great light upon the dispensations of God; so that we understand the freedom of our souls.  Dispensational error confounds the law and the gospel, and past economies or dispensations with the present one.

If we find ourselves in the presence of the law, we cannot find peace.  Yet many are troubled when considering the difference between the position of the saints of old, and the saints of the current dispensation.  The study of prophecy clears things up, and enlightens the faithful as to their walk and manner of life.   For, whilst it always maintains free salvation by the death of Jesus, prophecy enables us to understand the difference between the standing of the saints of our dispensation and those of a former time.

It is the hope that acts upon our hearts and affections.  If we think that we ought not to study prophecy, our thoughts become limited to the present.   Prophecy gives us God’s intentions are for the future and reveals the things that are come; like a scriptural mirror.  If we refuse to study what God has revealed as to the future, we are left with just our own ideas.

Some will say that the scripture, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”, (1 Corinthians 2:2) means that we should not follow prophecy.  We are not to limit ourselves to only the knowledge of Jesus Christ crucified. We must also know Jesus Christ glorified, Jesus Christ at the right hand of God; we must know Him as High Priest; as Advocate with the Father. We ought to know Jesus Christ as much as possible.  “Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.(Hebrews 6:1) – i.e. completion.

I attach more importance to the principal features of prophecy especially the distinctions between the various dispensations.  However, the more we enter into their minute details, the more perfection appears.

How God has revealed Himself in Prophecy.

Revelation 12 gives us the great object of prophecy, the combat which takes place between Christ, the last Adam, and Satan.  The conflict is either for the earthly object (the Jews), or for the heavenly object (the church).

It was necessary that the history of the first Adam should be developed. This has been done in order that Christians (the church), might be in a position to occupy themselves with the things of God, having the happy certainty as to their own position before Him.  They can then be made aware of the eternal counsels of God, the certainty of salvation, the knowledge of the grace of God, and the life-giving Spirit. Our course is the period separating the first coming of the Lord from the second.  In this time the church is gathered by the action of the Holy Spirit to have part in the glory of Christ at His return.  Then the church is taken from out of all nations, and united to Him.

How did Christ find the first Adam?  He found man in state of ruin – entirely lost.  The whole state of man, before and after the deluge, under the law, under the prophets, only served as a clear attestation that man was lost.  He had failed altogether, under every possible circumstance, until, God having sent His Son, the servants said, “This is the heir; let us kill him(Luke 20:14).   Sin was then at its height but the grace of God over-abounded.

Prophecy in the Old Testament

When Israel had transgressed in every possible way and circumstance, under Ahaz who was descended from David, prophecy commences in all its details, having these two features:

  • The manifestation of the glory of Christ, showing that the people had failed under the law.
  • The manifestation of the coming glory of Christ, to be the support of the faith of those who desired to keep the law.

 

The word of God, predicting that the Messiah was to come and suffer should have touched their conscience.  It ought to touch us.

Prophecy and the Church

Prophecy relates to the earth; its object is not heaven.  In not understanding this, the church has been misled. Believers think that they can have these earthly blessings, whereas we are called to enjoy heavenly blessings.   The church is a kind of heavenly economy, formed during the period of the rejection of God’s earthly people.   The Lord, having been rejected by the Jewish people, has become wholly a heavenly Person. This is Paul’s doctrine.  It is no longer the Messiah of the Jews, but Christ exalted and glorified.  For the want of taking hold of this exhilarating truth, the church has become so weak

We see the church glorified, in spite of the fact that the Lord Jesus has not abandoned any of His rights upon the earth.  He was the Heir: He was to shed His blood, which was to ransom the inheritance.  So it was necessary that Christ should buy the church.   We see that Boaz, a type of Christ, bought the inheritance by taking Ruth (the remnant of Israel) as wife. See Ruth 4:5.

The Church however, has no title to the inheritance.  Until we are in the glory we can have nothing, possess nothing, except only “the Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest [or guarantee] of our inheritance, until the redemption of the purchased possession.” (Ephesians 1:13-14)

Until that time Satan is the prince of this world, by usurpation.

Calling and Government

In Noah’s time there was government of the earth.  Abraham was the object of God’s calling to be in  a relationship with God on the principle of promise.

In the Jews, the calling of God and the government upon the earth, were united.  But Israel failed, and God takes the government and gives it to the Gentiles.  Nevertheless, Israel continues to be God’s chosen people: for the “gifts and calling of God are without repentance”. (Romans 11:29)  The calling of God for the earth is never transferred to the nations; it remains with the Jews.  If I want an earthly religion, I ought to be a Jew.

Once the government is transferred to the Gentiles, they become the oppressors of the people of God: first, the Babylonians; secondly, the Medes and Persians; thirdly, the Greeks; then, the Romans. The fourth monarchy consummated its crime at the same instant that the Jews consummated theirs, namely in being accessories to the killing of the Son of God, the King of Israel.  Gentile power is in a fallen state, just as God’s called people, the Jews, are.  Judgment is written upon both government and calling, as they are in man’s hand.

What Happens to the Church?

First, the church is saved.  In the patience of God the children of God  are gathered together.  Then what takes place? Immediately the church goes to meet the Lord, and the marriage of the Lamb takes place.

The government of the fourth monarchy will be still in existence, but under the influence and direction of the Antichrist.  The Jews will unite themselves to him, in a state of rebellion, to make war with the Lamb.    Satan, unto this hour, has still not been driven out of heaven.  God then dispossess Satan, and drives him from power.  This is what Jesus will do when the church has been united to Him

The Battle in Heaven

As soon as Christ has received the church, battle in heaven will follow.  Satan will be expelled from heaven, not yet bound, but cast down to earth.  He will excite the whole earth, and will raise up the apostate part of it, that which has revolted against the power of Christ coming from heaven.  Satan will unite the Jews with this apostate prince against heaven, along with both secular and mischievously spiritual heads of both the Gentiles and the Jews.  The Wicked One, having joined himself to the Jews, and placed himself the centre of government of the earth in Jerusalem, will be destroyed by the coming of the Lord of lords and King of kings.   Although the Lord will have come to the earth, and the power of Satan in the Antichrist destroyed, the earth will not yet have been brought under His sceptre.  For the world, not yet acknowledging the rights of Christ, will desire to possess His heritage. Therefore the Saviour must clear the land in order that its inhabitants may enjoy the blessings of His reign without interruption.

The Lord will purify His land from the Nile to the Euphrates.  The people come into security in the land.  However another enemy, namely Gog, comes up, but only for destruction.

The Lord’s Return

We now discover a much more calm and intimate relationship between the Lord Jesus and the Jews. This is what takes place when “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives”  (Zechariah 14:3)   It i the same Jesus: not as the Christ from heaven, but as the Messiah of the Jews.

Afterwards there will be the world to come, prepared and introduced by these judgments.   The glory manifested in Jerusalem will be announced to the other nations.  These will submit themselves to Christ; they will confess the Jews to be the God’s blessed people. Blessing will extend from Jerusalem to wherever there are men to enjoy its effects.  The throne of God, established at Jerusalem, will become the source of happiness to the whole earth.

Satan will be bound until “he is loosed for a short season” (Revelation 20:3).  There will be blessing without interruption because the government in heaven will be the security of the goodness of God.  The glorified church will fill the heavenly places with its own joy.  Behold the heavenly Jerusalem, witness in glory of the grace which has placed her so high!  In the midst of her flows the “river of water of life, … and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, … and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations(Revelation 22:1-2) .  ”The nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish.”(Isaiah 60:12).  Christ will fill all the functions of High Priest after the order of Melchisedec.

 

Conclusion

May God perfect in us, and in all His children, in separation from the world.  His coming ought to be our expectation.  May we know more of these its heavenly blessings, and be aware of the terrible judgments which await man bound to this lower world; for judgment will come upon all these earthly things.  May God also perfect the desires of our hearts, and the witness of the Holy Spirit!.

 

The Remnant of Israel

The gospel does not occupy itself with the earthly blessings of the Jews. This is matter for the Old Testament prophecies. Our blessings flow from the presence of Christ, the Son of David, a consequence of the new covenant. Whereas we know God as Father, through Grace, the Jews know Him as Jehovah the King – through His righteous judgments.

In the history of the Jews, we see Jehovah’s glory. The Jews are the people by whom, and in whom, God sustains His Name of Jehovah, and His character of judgment and righteousness. The remnant will be brought to the Lord of hosts, ”to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.” (Isaiah 18:7).

star of davidLecture 10  on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

Same subject as the preceding and Manner of its Accomplishment. –  J. N. Darby – a summary by Sosthenes

Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward …Except the LORD of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.  If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:  but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.   And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.  Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.   Isaiah 1.

The gospel does not occupy itself with the earthly blessings of the Jews. This is matter for the Old Testament prophecies.  Our blessings flow from the presence of Christ, the Son of David,  a consequence of the new covenant.   Whereas we know God as Father, through Grace, the Jews know Him as Jehovah the King – through His righteous judgments.

In the history of the Jews, we see Jehovah’s glory.  The Jews are the people by whom, and in whom, God sustains His Name of Jehovah, and His character of judgment and righteousness.  The remnant will be brought to the Lord of hosts,  ”to the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.” (Isaiah 18:7).

The Israelites are currently returning to their land, but God takes no notice of them.  After the church has been raptured, the first to be gathered will be those who rejected Jesus, and were guilty of His death.  They will be brought under the power of the Antichrist.

The ten tribes were not guilty of this crime.  As with Israel upon their rebellion in the Exodus, the disobedient and rebellious people will not enter into Canaan.  God destroys them without their even seeing it.

Jewish history is mainly the manifestation of the glory of Jehovah.

Even if we do not realise it, the Jews’ affairs are very dear to our God and Father. We find the character of Jehovah in the revelation of God to His people.  Through this, we, the nations learn to know Jehovah.

God acting in Grace

To the Jews, it is the character of Jehovah the King – known by His judgments – by the exercise of His power on the earth.  To the church, it is the character of Father, revealed to our souls by the gospel, by the Spirit of adoption.  The gospel is a system of pure grace – a system which teaches us to act towards others as we have been acted on by the Father  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48).  We ought to follow the example of our Saviour.   We should not expect or wish that the judgment should be in the rigour of righteousness; but we should be gentle and humble in the midst of all the wrongs which we may be called upon to suffer because of man’s failure.

God’s faithfulness, unchangeableness, His almighty power, His government of the whole earth –  is all revealed in His relationship towards Israel.   This is how the history of this people lets us into the character of Jehovah.

God acting in Judgment

Jehovah, without doubt, will bless the nations; but the rule of His kingdom will be, that “judgment shall return unto righteousness,” (Psalm 94:15). At the first coming of Jesus Christ, judgment was with Pilate, and righteousness with Jesus; but when Jesus returns, judgment will be united to righteousness.  On the other hand, Jehovah will console His people by acting in righteousness in their favour “By terrible things in righteousness wilt thou answer us, O God” (Psalm 65:5), and He will re-establish them in earthly glory. The Jews are the people by whom, and in whom, God sustains His name of Jehovah, and His character of judgment and righteousness.

“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 … 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”(Daniel 12:1-2). This resurrection applies to the Jews.  “Thy dead shall live; . . .” (Isaiah 26:19).  Now Israel is largely buried as a nation among the Gentiles.  In its revival, God will stand up for His people in their time of distress, and deliver a remnant.

The Israelites are currently returning to their land [far more so now than in JND’s time!], but God takes no notice of them. Israel is abandoned to the nations, particularly between the two rivers of Cush, the Nile and the Euphrates.   (See Lecture 9).

The Remnant

Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. … And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. … And I will betroth thee unto me for ever. … And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.” (Hosea 2:14-23).  There is an uninterrupted chain of blessings from Jehovah Himself.  Israel will become the instrument of blessing to the earth.  Jehovah will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel.

Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days … after that they shall seek Jehovah and David – the well-beloved, or Christ.” (Hosea 3:4, 5)  “And I will bring again the captivity of my people . . . and I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up.” (Amos 9:14, 15.)  This is of course yet to come, and the words, “in that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen,” (v.11) are quoted in Acts 15:16, not for the purpose of showing that the prophecy had been fulfilled; but to show that God had always determined to have a people (a residue) from among the Gentiles.

God is said to be “silent in his love” (Zephaniah 3:17). He lavishes all this on the remnant.  ”The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make them afraid” (v.13).  The spirit of grace and supplication shall be poured out upon the remnant of Israel – ” all the families that remain“; (v14) and “they shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and mourn.” (Zechariah 12:10)

Nevertheless, the remnant shall “be brought to the Lord of hosts, from a people rent and torn in piecesto the place of the name of the Lord of hosts, the mount Zion.” (Isaiah 18:7)

Thy King Cometh

This prediction, delivered by Jesus Himself, gives us the assurance of the coming of Christ to restore Israel, and reign in her midst: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, . . . your house is left unto you desolate . . . till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matthew 23:37-39.).  Israel will see Jesus,  “The stone, which the builders refused, is become the head stone of the corner.” (Psalm 118:22Acts 4:11, 1 Peter 2:7)

When the Lord entered Jerusalem, there was only a partial fulfilment of the prophecy “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee . . . .” (Zechariah 9:9 and John 12:15).  In John, the Holy Spirit omits, “He is just, and having salvation“.   Far from saving Himself, He saved us.  He spared not Himself that we might be spared.

The Disobedient Ones

However, the first to be gathered are those who rejected Jesus, those who were guilty of His death. (The ten tribes were not guilty of this crime.)   Those who rejected Christ will be subjected to the Antichrist; they will make “a covenant with death, and an agreement with hell” (Isaiah 28:15).  This covenant will shatter all their hopes.  Having united themselves to Antichrist, they will suffer the consequences of this alliance, and will finally be destroyed.

The ten tribes – the disobedient and rebellious ones – will not enter at all into Canaan.  God does with them, as He did with Israel upon their rebellion after their coming out of Egypt; He destroys them without their even seeing it.

Conclusion

  • Blessings flow from the presence of Christ, the Son of David.  They are a consequence of the new covenant.
  • The gospel does not occupy itself with the earthly blessings of the Jews. This is matter for the Old Testament prophecies.

 

What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us

The restoration of the Jews is founded upon the unconditional promises that God made to Abraham. However, their fall is a result of their having undertaken to obey God in their own strength. After God had exercised His patience in every possible way “until there was no remedy,” (2 Chron. 36:16) judgment came upon them only after extraordinary patience. But God keeps His promises.

We have a similar history. No sooner does God place us in a position than we fail. But behind our failure there is strength, that is to say, the revelation of the counsels of God, and consequentially His unconditional promises.

Lecture 9 of 11 on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

star of david

Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the LORD. Thus saith the Lord GOD unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live … and ye shall know that I am the LORD.  …  Take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:  and join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. …  So shall they be my people, and I will be their God.  And David my servant shall be king over them.  Ezekiel 37.

Israel’s Failure and Dispersion; Promises of Restoration. – A Summary by Sosthenes

The restoration of the Jews is founded upon the unconditional promises that God made to Abraham.  However,  their fall is a result of their having undertaken to obey God in their own strength.  After God had exercised His patience in every possible way “until there was no remedy,”  (2 Chron. 36:16) judgment came upon them only after extraordinary patience.   But God keeps His promises.

We have a similar history.   No sooner does God place us in a position than we fail.  But behind our failure there is strength, that is to say, the revelation of the counsels of God, and consequentially His unconditional promises.

As Moses was the mediator for Israel (the type), we have the mediation and the presence of Jesus.  In Him the promises are accomplished.

God’s Promises to Israel

Whenever God wanted going to show grace to His people, He reminded them of the covenant made with Abraham. However Israel took the promises under the covenant made in the wilderness. Unlike that made with Abraham, Israel put themselves under an obligation of obedience in order to enjoy the promises.  They failed altogether; but notwitGod hstanding that, thanks to the mediation of Moses, God was able to bless the people.

Israel failed again after they had been given the land and established themselves in it.  God raised up prophets to convict them of the sin into which they had fallen.  The prophets also showed the faithful ones that the counsels of God towards Israel would not be put aside; for by means of the Messiah, God would accomplish everything that He had spoken about.  It was when Israel failed, that the the faithful remnant of the people really valued the precious promises.

What it means to us

In the history Israel sinning under the law, we have the history of every one of our hearts.  If we place ourselves before God, we recognise that it is only His grace that sustains us, and relieves us from the situation we find ourselves in because of sin.

The History of Israel

Joshua says to the people, “Ye cannot serve the Lord“,  but the people say, “Nay, but we will serve the Lord(Joshua 24:19,21)    They had been led into the land of promise, enjoyed the fruits of grace, and now they undertook to obey the Lord in their own strength.

But in Judges 2 they are found in complete failure, and God says, “I will not drive out your enemies from before you, but they shall be as thorns in your sides. … And the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served Baalim; and the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel(v.3,11).  It is always the same – kindness on the part of God, ingratitude on the part of man.

Eli was the high priest, the judge and head of Israel.   However the glory of Israel had been cast down to the ground: “The ark of God taken, and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain.”   Eli himself died, and his daughter-in-law named her child, Ichabod, saying, “The glory is departed from Israel” (1 Samuel 4:11,21)

Samuel  was rejected: 1 Sam. 8:6, 7. “And the Lord said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.”  Israel had failed under king, prophet, and priest.  They are now ruined under the king (Saul) whom they chose.

David and Solomon  – God gave David, a type of Christ to Israel, as he is the father of Christ according to the flesh.  Under Solomon Israel becomes rich and glorious.  But the people transgressed under both these two princes.  Royalty, raised up of God Himself failed, and judgment passed upon it.

Ahaz and Manasseh  – As well as the ten tribes who became totally unfaithful Judah failed too.   In the apostasy of Ahaz, who took the heathen altar from Damascus to Jerusalem, the last human stay of the hopes of Israel failed.  Only God’s promises remained.

And the Lord God of their fathers sent to them by his messengers… but they mocked the messengers of God, and despised his words, and misused his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, till there was no remedy” (2 Chron. 36:15, 16).  This was the end of their existence in the land of Canaan. The name of Lo-ammi (not my people) is at last written upon them, and they were deported to Babylon.

The promises which sustained a faithful remnant

This is the promise: “I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them that they may dwell in a place of their own, and move no more; neither shall the children of wickedness afflict them any more as beforetime  … I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will establish his throne for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son.”  (2 Samuel 7:10,13).   In Hebrews 1:5,  these words apply to Christ – “For unto which of the angels said he … I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?”   All the promises made to Abraham and to his seed are placed in the safe keeping, and gathered together in the Person, of Jesus, the Son of David.

“In that day (time of great trouble) shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” (Isaiah 4:2-4).  Judah and Israel will be re-united; and the nations will be assembled to the throne of God.

Happy Times for Israel

Happy times for Israel have not yet been realised.   They certainly were not realised at the time of the return from Babylon.

Ezekiel 37 gives the history of the re-establishment of Israel – the joining together of the two parts of the nation and their return into the land.  God gives a new heart to the remnant, the nucleus of the future nation.

There is a touching passage as to the thoughts of the Lord concerning His people in Jeremiah 32:37-42.   Having given them the promises of blessing in grace, and assured them that He would be their God, the Lord says, “And I will plant them in this land assuredly, with my whole heart and with my whole soul. For like as I have brought all this great evil upon this people, so will I bring upon them all the good that I have promised them.”

We see he blessing of Israel/Jerusalem in the words, “By the presence of the Branch, which shall grow up unto David, who shall execute judgment and righteousness, in the land.” (Jeremiah 33:15.)

Israel must be renewed in heart to receive the promises of Canaan.

Israel must be born again to enjoy those terrestrial promises which belong to her.   God must cause them to walk in His statutes by giving them a new heart, and then, but only then, they will enjoy the- blessings foretold for them.

The Lord spoke to Nicodemus about the need of being born of water and of the Spirit in order to enter into the kingdom of God. The words in Ezekiel 36:25-26 are almost identical.  That is why He says, “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?” (John3:12)  – about the glory of Christ exalted in heaven, and the church, His companion?

Is Zion the Church?

Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me.” (Isaiah 48:14).  It has been asserted, that in these chapters, Zion refers to the church. But this is impossible.  The church will be with Christ.  If Zion was the church, how could it be forsaken?

When it says, “All the nations shall be gathered unto it.” it does not refer to the return from Babylon, because it goes on, “In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together . . . to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers.” (Jeremiah 3:17-18).  This cannot refer to the church.

Who is it that the Lord has broken down, thrown down, and destroyed? The same that He will build and plant.” (Jeremiah 31:28).   It seems a little unreasonable to apply all the judgments to Israel, and all the blessings concerning the same persons to the church.  We have the Holy Spirit;  Israel will have the Branch.

Our Blessings

We participate in the blessings of the good olive-tree; but our joy has not dispossessed the Jew (the natural branch) of that which belongs to him.  We have been grafted into Christ.  If we are Christ’s, we are Abraham’s children, and partake of all that is spiritual.   The church has only one Father, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now all these things happened to them [as] types, and have been written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages are come.”  (1 Corinthians 10:11 DBY)  On one hand, the heart of man always fails, and on the other hand there is the faithfulness of God who never fails.  He will fulfil all His promises, providing strength to surmount all the power of Satan and the wickedness of man.

As to us Gentiles, the execution of the judgment has been suspended for almost 2000 years.  God is still drawing upon all the eternal resources of His grace to bring to light those who will listen to His testimony of salvation.

JND Concludes ‘Admirable patience! Infinite grace of Him who interests Himself in us, even after our rebellion and iniquity! To Him be all the glory!’

 

The Judgment of the Nations

Evil reaches its height in the eighth head of the beast, which goes down to destruction in the apostasy of the civil power of the fourth monarchy. He goes along with the false prophet, who, having seduced the world to do homage to the beast and to take his mark, is destroyed with him.

JN Darby Lecture 7 on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

The resurrection_chart02Judgment of the Nations, which become the inheritance of Christ and of the Church. – A Summary by Sosthenes

A summary of a lecture by J. N. Darby.

{A Psalm of Asaph.} God standeth in the congregation of the mighty; he judgeth among the gods.  How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah.

Defend the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy.  Deliver the poor and needy: rid them out of the hand of the wicked.  They know not, neither will they understand; they walk on in darkness: all the foundations of the earth are out of course.  I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.  But ye shall die like men, and fall like one of the princes.  Arise, O God, judge the earth: for thou shalt inherit all nations.  Psalm 82.

Evil reaches its height in the eighth head of the beast, which goes down to destruction in the apostasy of the civil power of the fourth monarchy.  He goes along with the false prophet, who, having seduced the world to do homage to the beast and to take his mark, is destroyed with him.

The scene now extends.  God does not only judge the last rebellion of the (fourth) Antichristian beast.  Not only will he be destroyed, but the nations will be judged too.   God makes His power felt: It is the moment of His wrath; He judges all nations.

All that is high and lifted up will be brought low by the power and glory of God, so that God, in full blessing, may enjoy the kingdom, and may have the inheritance of all the nations.

This is what we read in Revelation 11:15-18: “And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever….And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great.”

The Judge

The Judge is the Lord Jesus, the Messiah, the true King over the whole earth. was presented to the Gentiles (represented by Pontius Pilate), and to the Jews (represented by the high priest), and was rejected.   Now the Son is anointed, king upon Zion, God’s holy hill, and that He has the heathen for His inheritance: Zion is His throne; the nations, His inheritance. (See Psalm 2:6-8)

At the birth of Christ, Herod showed his hatred upon the least appearance of His royalty.  When the cry was heard that a king had appeared, immediate efforts were made to get rid of Him. Will the nations then, at last, listen to the invitation made to them to submit themselves to the King?   No!

The judges of the earth will have to give an account of their conduct to God.  “They know not, neither do they understand…I have said, Ye are gods,” (Psalm 82:5-6) for God Himself had given them authority over the earth: “the powers that be are ordained of God” (Romans 13:1);  But now God can and will judge them.

His Judgment

God’s way of dealing with the nations is in an entirely different way from the gospel, “Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.”  (Psalm 2:9).  In the gospel, the sceptre (rod) of Christ is a rod of goodness and love; it is everything that is most sweet, most powerful, in His love.  The gospel is not a sceptre of iron.

Psalm 9:15-20 (The LORD is known by the judgment which he executeth: the wicked is snared in the work of his own hands.) is not the language of the gospel; it is the prophetic demand – the righteous demand – of judgment.   Christians often this difficult to follow, not having understood the difference between the various dispensations.   Once the gospel has run its course, Christ will act in righteous judgment against the world.

He therefore invites the kings of the earth to submit themselves to Him.  These kings follow their own ways; their policy is settled according to the wisdom of man.  Hence, if God were not to execute judgment, the evil would only grow worse and worse without any consolation for the faithful.  Christ demands judgment, because the time is come. “The Lord is King for ever and ever; the heathen are perished out of his land.” (Psalm 10:15, 16) and Thou hast rebuked the heathen; thou hast destroyed the wicked (Antichrist); thou hast put out their name for ever and ever.” (v.5)

God will assemble the nations, and pour upon them His indignation – a terrible judgment.  “Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the Lord, until the day that I rise up to the prey; for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms to pour upon them mine indignation” (Zephaniah 3:8).  The place where this judgment will be exercised will be the land of Israel, and that the Lord will manifest Himself in this act of power.

As to when the knowledge of the Lord should fill the earth, we refer to verse 9For then will I turn to the people a pure language, that they may all call upon the name of the LORD”.  This blessing will come to pass after He has executed judgment, and put away the evil-doers.  This passage is a very explicit revelation.  It is not grace, but judgment.

The Lord’s Rule

Jesus has sat down at the right hand of God the Father, until His enemies are made His footstool. “The LORD (Jehovah) said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” (Psalm 110:1).  Until then,  by His Spirit, He gathers Christians together.

After that come the words, “Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.” (v.2).  This is what the Lord will accomplish, when He starts to exercise His power  “The Lord … shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath.  He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies.” (v5-6)

The War

In the next part of the lecture Darby summarises the movements of the parties in the war that ensues.  I will not go into detail; Darby says that we should not fix our attention too much upon events which are taking place in our time.  Satan can easily divert us from nearness to Christ, by occupying us too much with prophecy as a subject.

Indeed.  We may view current happenings in the light of prophecy.  The current political situation is vastly different now (2014) from what it was in JND’s time.  Islamic fundamentalism is  entrenched in the region, and opposing Sunni and Shiite  forces have created an area of particular unrest.

Indeed the King of the North (some sons of Japeth, mostly Shiite and Eastern Orthodox, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Iraq etc) will be at war with the King of the South (sons on Shem and Ham, mostly Sunni, some Christian, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Africa) with Israel in the middle.  Other sons of Japeth (Javan, Greece, Rome) would be with the Antichrist.

This disaster will mainly take place in Jerusalem.

Darby drew on William Hale’s Analysis of Chronology, which has recently (2012) been republished.

 Christians are sheltered from the approaching storm

The church’s place is with Christ, accompanying Him.  It has the privilege and glory of union with the Lord Jesus Christ.   The union of the church as a single body, comprising both Jews and Gentiles, was not revealed in the Old Testament.  If seek it, we find Christ Himself.  For example, Christ says prophetically in Isaiah 50:9, “Who is he that shall condemn me?”; Paul in Romans 8:34 applies this to the church, the church being united to Christ.

Hence, it is not in Zion that we are to look for the church, because the church has the same portion as Christ.  We are not to look for the church in the prophecy. The church is the body of Christ Himself; and Christ is to judge, not to be judged.

The church’s place is not in the midst of the nations that are to be broken in pieces, but to be united to Christ, enjoying the same privileges as Christ.  There is nothing true, as regards Christ, in the glory which He has taken as Man, which is not also true of the church.

It is a precious thing for us to understand our place, that of joint-heirs with Christ. And the more we think of this, the more our strength will be increased, and the more our minds will be detached from this world, which is under judgment.

The world is judged because it has rejected Christ, The Saviour.  ”Righteous Father, the world hath not known thee.” (John 17:25)   Just as unbelief separates men entirely from Christ for all eternity. Grace by faith has united us entirely and for ever to Him; and we ought to bless God for it.  This is what grace has done for us.