The Present Hope of the Church

J N Darby (1800-82), a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, laid the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching in his lectures on the Present Hope of the Church.

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JN Darby’s Lecture 1 on The Hope of the Church of God

The Present Hope of the Church – Summary by Sosthenes

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J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching. His doctrine is still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

JND said as to them “In going through the more general features of prophecy, we shall examine these three great subjects: the church; the nations; and the Jew”.  God made Himself known as Jehovah to the Jews.  The prophets showed God’s character as Jehovah.  Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the centre of God’s promises and blessings to the Jewish nation.  To the Church, God presents Himself as ‘Father’ and Jesus as the ‘Son of God’.  We are His brethren – children of God and members of His family.  He, the Firstborn, is the expression of all the glory of the Father.

In the dispensation of the fulness of times, when God will gather together all things in Christ, that name under which He has been celebrated by Melchisedec (a type of the royal Priest), God will be known as “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:19)

“…We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”      2 Peter 1.

Summary of Lectures

  1. The Present Hope of the Church
  2. The Church and its Glory
  3. The Second Coming of Christ
  4. The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just
  5. The Judgment of Evil
  6. Ecclesiastical Apostasy and Civil Apostasy
  7. The Judgment of the Nations
  8. God’s Promises to Israel
  9. What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us
  10. The Remnant of Israel
  11. The Importance of Prophecy

The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

Every Christian should not only be sure of his salvation in Christ, but also know its results.  He should not only know he is in the Father’s house with all its privileges but be happy there too.  In prophecy, God treats us as His friends, and reveals the things He is occupied with.  As our hearts are associated with Him, they realise His love and confidence and are coloured by the expectation of what is to come.  With this holy knowledge we are strangers and pilgrims here.

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews, relating to the earth, and that which applies to the Church.  Being free of human objects, cares and distractions we can be dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

Whilst prophecy proves the divine source of the Bible, that is not its main purpose.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now and the Jewish remnant in a future day, as a light or torch before things take place.  God tells us the truth; Satan does not.  Do we doubt God?  Surely we do not need witnesses to persuade us that God is telling the truth.

Satan has deceived many by introducing the thought that partially fulfilled prophecies, were in fact complete.   Most, if not all prophecy is to be fulfilled after the end of this dispensation.  Then it will be too late to be convinced as to the truth.  Those left behind will experience terrible judgment.  But as I read God’s word, I am restful.  I am enlightened as I cleave to Him instead of my own understanding.  As things unfold I see the purposes of the Most High, opening up His character – His faithfulness, justice, long-suffering.  But He will certainly judge proud iniquity and execute vengeance on these who corrupt the earth, in order for His government to be established in peace and blessing.

The judgment of God will come upon the nations; the church is informed of this; and, thanks to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, understands it, believes it, and escapes the things which are coming.

 

The Sceptic as to Prophecy

The sceptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations and vainglory of proud hearts.  The sceptic’s own thoughts are the most speculative.  How Satan deceives!  But prophecy reveals God’s thoughts as to things to come. And the Christian rejoices that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).  And God will show how.

Communion with God as to Prophecy

Through communion, which is eternal, God comforts and sanctifies us to prevent our hopes being vague.  Thank God “we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  And this voice which came from heaven we heard when we were with him in the holy mount.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

 

 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – Psalms

In the Psalms we have the Spirit of Christ working and developing itself in the remnant of Israel in the latter day. They are divided into five books.

In the Psalms we have the Spirit of Christ working and developing itself in the remnant of Israel in the latter day.   It shows His personal relationship,  taken, whether in laying the ground for them, or in exercising sympathy with them.  The Psalms continue up to the border of the millennium, but do not enter it except prophetically. They are divided into five books.

Lightly edited by Sosthenes, May 2014

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!’

 

God’s Promises to Israel

In Romans 9 Paul explains how God has acted towards both the Jews and the Gentiles; (vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles – v23-24). Now chapter 11 starts with the question, “Hath God cast away his people?”

As we study the history of both the church and the four beasts, we see that the Jews are put aside. The gospel has appeared in the world to save sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, in order to reveal the hidden mystery of a heavenly people. Hence, “unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” (Ephesians 3:10)

Lecture 8 of 11 on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

star of davidI say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. – etc.  Romans 11.

Israel’s First Entry into the Land was the Result of Promise. – J. N. Darby – a summary by Sosthenes

Israel Remains God’s People

In Romans 9  Paul explains how God has acted towards both the Jews and the Gentiles;  (vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles – v23-24).  Now chapter 11 starts with the question, “Hath God cast away his people?”

As we study the history of both the church and the four beasts, we see that the Jews are put aside.  The gospel has appeared in the world to save sinners, both Jews and Gentiles, in order to reveal the hidden mystery of a heavenly people.  Hence, “unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known, by the church the manifold wisdom of God.”  (Ephesians 3:10)

Although the Jews are enemies as to the gospel, they remain God’s people according to the flesh, and beloved on account of the fathers. (See Romans 11:28).  It is a national election.  Does God count the Jews as enemies? Paul’s answer is “God forbid.”(v.1)   God has not rejected His people.  “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance”.  (v.29)

Israel and the Church

In the present dispensation we have the calling of a heavenly people.  Consequentially, God puts aside His earthly people, the Jews.  The Jewish nation never enters into the church.  Indeed,  “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in“; (v.25).  This will be until all the children of God, forming the church in this dispensation, will have been called.

Israel will be saved

As a nation, Israel will be saved. “There shall come out of Zion the deliverer(v.26).  God has not cast away His people.  God has chosen Abraham, and his family according to the flesh.  Among Abraham’s descendants Israel serves as the depositary of God’s promises.

Adam and Noah

To understand the root of God’s promises, which are to Abraham, we must look at the preceding dispensations.

  • Adam – Man is left to himself after the fall.  The world is full of violence and corruption, and God purifies it by the deluge.
  • Noah – God makes a covenant with Noah and with the creation; and gives the rainbow as a witness. “The Lord smelled a sweet savour; and the Lord said in his heart, I will not again curse the ground” (Gen. 8:21).  This covenant is given to the earth immediately after Noah’s sacrifice – typically the sacrifice of Christ.

All these dispensations end in the failure of man.  But what is lost through human folly is recovered at the end in Christ; whether it be blessing to the earth, prosperity to the Jews, or the glory of the church.

The Origin of Idolatry

Satan presents himself as God, and makes himself the god of this earth.  It is written, “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils and not to God?” (Deuteronomy 32:17).  The Lord reminds the Israelites,  Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time . . . and they served other gods.” (Joshua 24:2).  This was the first time that we find God marking the existence of idolatry.

But the true God separated a people, so that the truth might be preserved.   All the ways of God towards men turn upon God’s calling of Abraham and his posterity to be the depositary of this one great truth: “There are none other gods but one” (Deuteronomy 4:35).

Promises to Abraham and Israel

The promises that God made to Abraham were without condition.  Under the law, Israel received the promises with conditions, and failed.  But this did not weaken the validity and the force of the promises made to Abraham four hundred years earlier.

In Genesis 12 and 15, Abraham receives both earthly and spiritual blessings.   He received an unconditional covenant, an absolute gift of the land.  He was told of a numerous posterity, like the stars (v. 5, 18); and even given the exact limits of the country.  This promise was renewed in Chapter 17, and re-confirmed to Isaac (Ch. 26:3) and Jacob (Ch. 35:12).

Hence God makes Himself “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob“,(Exodus 3:15), and His people the heirs of the promises, pilgrims upon earth.

Israel’s Relationship with God

In this name of “the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob“, God made His boast on the earth.   The faithful in Israel were to find their confidence in that.  Until Exodus 19  the promise had been unconditional.  However, Israel placed themselves in relationship with God in a totally opposite way, namely in their own righteousness on the principle of the law.   As they acknowledged obedience to God, they undertook to do in their own strength.  The covenant at Sinai was founded on the principle of obedience. (Exodus 24:7)

In this covenant, we have an ‘If…’. “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me: for all the earth is mine. And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation(Exodus 19:6).

The Israelites should have said, ‘It is true, most gracious God, we ought to obey Thee; but we have failed so often, that we dare not receive the promises under such a condition.’  Instead of this, what did they say? “All the words that the Lord hath said, will we do.” (Exodus 19:8).  They rashly bind themselves to fulfil all that Jehovah had spoken, and take the promises under the condition of perfect obedience. What happened? They made the golden calf before Moses had even come down from the mount.

Like Israel, we fail the first day, and we realise that we are lost because we have violated the covenant.  If as sinners we engage ourselves to obey God, we forfeit the blessing if we fail.  Our answer should always be, ‘We are lost’; for grace supposes our ruin.  Paul shows the entire instability of man under any condition, when he says, “A mediator is not a mediator of one.” (Gal. 3:20-21).  If there is a mediator, there must be two parties.  But God is not two; “God is one.” And who is the other party? It is man.

The law cannot annul the promises made to Abraham:

  • blessing to the nations
  • the land
  • earthly blessings to Israel.

 

So in Exodus 32 we see how the promises made before the law were the resource of faith.  However, after the fall of Israel, Moses beseeches God, for His own glory, to remember the promises made to Abraham; and God repents of the evil which He had thought to do.

In Leviticus 26:16-33 we have the threat of all the chastisements which were to follow the unfaithfulness of Israel. However in verse 42: “Then will I remember my covenant with Jacob, and also my covenant with Isaac, and also my covenant with Abraham; . . . and I will remember the land.”.  God returns to His promises made unconditionally long before the law; and this is applicable to the last time.

Two More Covenants in Leviticus 26

  • with Moses, as mediator.
  • with the people, in order that under it they might be able to continue to enjoy the land, if they were obedient.  They were not, so they were expelled from the territory.

The Promised Land

Now we get the principle on which they entered into the land of Canaan.  Before the law God had unconditionally promised them the land for a perpetual possession.  It is due to these promises, by the mediation of Moses, that Israel was spared, and at last enjoyed the land.

Israel fell in the promised land, and were expelled.  We now await their re-establishment to all the promises made to Abraham.  Although the people had failed in every possible way towards God, the prophets show us clearly, that God has promised to restore them and to re-establish them in their land, under the Lord Jesus Christ as their King.  Every temporal promise will have been fulfilled.

Conclusion

In all this we see the revelation of the character of Jehovah.   Israel is the theatre in which God has displays His character.  Though these things have happened to Israel, they have happened for our benefit.  We should think not only of the failure of Israel, but also of the goodness of God – our God,  the glory of God and the honour of His perfections.  Were God to fail in His gifts towards Israel, He could fail in His gifts towards us.

 

 

 

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.

 

The Second Coming of Christ

Acts 1, The promise of the Lord’s return is set forth as the only hope of the church. The disciples desired to know when and how God would restore the kingdom of Israel, but the answer was going to be hidden in God, as times and seasons belonged to the Father who had put them in His own power.

Additionally, the Holy Spirit was about to come, and because of that, they were to expect the return of Christ. So Christ’s return ruled the intelligence, sustained the hope and inspired the conduct, of the apostles.

JN Darby on the Lord’s Return – Lecture 3 on The Hopes of the Church of God

The Second Coming of Christ – Summary by Sosthenes

The Second Coming of ChristIn Acts 1, The promise of the Lord’s return is set forth as the only hope of the church.  The disciples desired to know when and how God would restore the kingdom of Israel,  but the answer was going to be hidden in God, as times and seasons belonged to the Father who had put them in His own power.

Additionally, the Holy Spirit was about to come, and because of that, they were to expect the return of Christ.  So Christ’s return ruled the intelligence, sustained the hope and inspired the conduct, of the apostles.

However, during the history of the church, the Saviour’s return has been lost sight of.

The Lord will Return to the Earth.

The Lord’s coming is not the judgment of the dead, or the great white throne; it is the return of Jesus Christ in Person, when He will come from heaven.

In Matthew 25, all the virgins were found in the same state; the wise ones (the true saints) as well as the foolish ones, who lacked the oil of the Holy Spirit, slept and forgot the immediate return of Christ.  What wakes them all up is the cry at midnight that He is coming.  That is the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.

The State of the Church

The faithfulness of the church is made to hinge on its watchfulness as regards the truth of the Lord’s coming.  The expectation of the return of Christ is the exact measure (the thermometer, so to speak) of the life of the church.

Christendom is in a state worse than that of the Jews or pagans, in that it has had more advantages.  The evil which Satan has caused by heresies, false doctrines and false religions, continues to increase, and ripen.

The Joy of the departed Soul

This is seen in four scriptures:

  • To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
  • “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit”; (Acts 7:59)
  • “To be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8);
  • “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart and to be with Christ, which is far better,” (Phil. 1:22, 23)

We are out of the reach of sin, and we enjoy the Lord apart from it, in a state of expectation.

The Lord says, “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to myself.” He, Himself will come for His church, in order that the church may be there, where He is.

The First Preaching

In Acts 3 Peter preaches of to the Jews: Repent, and Jesus will return. You have killed the Prince of life; you have denied the Holy One and the Just; God has raised Him from the dead. Repent, be converted, and He will return. But they would not repent.

But he said that they did it through ignorance . “Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

However we know they continued to resist the Holy Spirit; See Acts 7:51.

God will gather together all things in Christ

It says, “He may send Jesus.(Acts 3:20)   The Holy Spirit will be shed abroad, that is true, but the event is to take place by the presence of Jesus. There cannot be a revelation more explicit, than the sending of Jesus.   The things spoken of by the prophets will be accomplished.  How can the force and simplicity of such a declaration be evaded?

The work of the Holy Spirit is not to re-establish all things here below, but to announce the return of Jesus.

When He appears in His glory, the world will behold Him, but it will not be able to see the Holy Spirit.  Then:  “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow.” (Philippians 2:10)  All we have to do is to believe.

The coming of the Lord is the constant and Living expectation of the church

“For our conversation (citizenship) is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body.” (Philippians 3:20, 21)

“When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:4.)

The two epistles to the Thessalonians turn entirely on this subject.  The coming of Christ fills the first epistle.  It is remarkable that this church, one of the most flourishing of those to which the apostles have written, should be precisely that one to which the Lord chose to reveal, with most detail, the circumstances of His coming. “The secret of the Lord is with them that fear him.” (Psalm 25:14)

They expected the Lord from heaven.  May we have this same faith that the Thessalonians had!  We ought, like them, to be expecting the Lord before the thousand years.

If Paul had expected a millennium of the Holy Spirit before the coming of Jesus, how could he ever have said, “We who remain until the coming of Christ”?  There was, then, in his soul, a continual expectation of the coming of Christ.  He did not know the moment, but he expected it imminently.

The believers in Thessalonica had the hope of the return of Christ to such a degree, that they did not think of dying before that event; and when one of them departed, his friends were afraid that he would not be present at that happy moment.  Paul reassures them by asserting that those who sleep in Jesus, Christ will bring back with Him.

Now – An Intermediate State of Happiness

Therefore we are always confident; knowing that while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord.(2 Corinthians 5:6) .  I have already the life of Christ: if I depart, I shall be with Him.  Paul will enjoy the fruits of his waiting.

The Mystery of Iniquity

For the mystery of iniquity, which was already working in the time of Paul, was to go on until the manifestation of the man of sin.  He will be destroyed by the glorious appearing of Christ Himself.  Now, in such a state of things where is the place for such a post-tribulation millennium?

The appearing of Christ is not at the end, for at the end, He will have delivered up the kingdom.  In reality, the kingdom takes place at His appearing.

We shall only be like Him when He appears, not before.  “But we know that when he [the Son of God] shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.   And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as be is pure.  (1 John 3:2)     A heart that is full of this hope conducts himself accordingly – he purifies himself.  Knowing that when Jesus appears, I shall be like Him, I ought to be, even now, like Jesus.

An Appeal

May the Lord apply these truths to our hearts, on one side, to detach us from the things of the world, and, on the other, to attach us to His coming – to Himself in Person; and we shall purify ourselves even as He is pure.  There is nothing more practical, nothing more powerful to disentangle us from a world that is to be judged, and to knit us to the One who will come to judge it.

Certainly, there is nothing that can serve better to show us where our purification comes from.  There is nothing which can console us, invigorate us, and identify us more with the One who has suffered, so that we might reign with Him, co-heirs in glory.  Surely, if we were expecting the Lord any day, there would be seen in us a self-renunciation rarely seen among the Christians of the present age.  May none of us be found saying, “My Lord delayeth his coming”!  (Matthew 24:48)

 

 

 

 

 

The Present Hope of the Church

J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and premillennial and pre-trib teaching. The beliefs he disseminated then are still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

To download a DRAFT version of this series in .pdf, Apple or Kindle format please click here.

 Lecture 1   –  The Hope of the Church of God

The Present Hope of the Church – An easy-to-read Summary

new-jerusalem-2s

J N Darby gave a series of eleven significant lectures in Geneva in 1840 on the Present Hope of the Church (L’attente actuelle de l’église). These established his reputation as a leading interpreter of biblical prophecy, and the basis of dispensational and pre-millennial tribulation (or ‘pre-trib’) teaching.  Central to this is the rapture – Chriist’s coming momentarily to call His own who  are alive on the earth, when the dead in Christ are raised.  This is clearly described in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 , and   The beliefs he disseminated then are still being propagated (in various forms) at such places as Dallas Theological Seminary and by authors and preachers such as Hal Lindsey and Tim LaHaye.

JND said as to prophecy: “In going through the more general features of prophecy, we shall examine these three great subjects: the church; the nations; and the Jews.” (JN Darby Collected Writings vol 2 Prophetic 1 page 281).  God made Himself known as Jehovah to the Jews.  The prophets showed God’s character as Jehovah.  Jesus is presented as the Messiah, the centre of God’s promises and blessings to the Jewish nation.  To the Church, God presents Himself as ‘Father’ and Jesus as the ‘Son of God’.  We are His brethren – children of God and members of His family.  He, the Firstborn, is the expression of all the glory of the Father.

In the dispensation of the fullness of times, when God will gather together all things in Christ, that name under which He has been celebrated by Melchisedec (a type of the Royal Priest), God will be known as “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth.” (Gen 14:19)

‘…We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.’    (  2 Peter 1:19-21.)

Summary of Lectures

  1. The Present Hope of the Church
  2. The Church and its Glory
  3. The Second Coming of Christ
  4. The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just
  5. The Judgment of Evil
  6. Ecclesiastical Apostasy and Civil Apostasy
  7. The Judgment of the Nations
  8. God’s Promises to Israel
  9. What God in His Goodness will yet do for Israel – and what it Means for Us
  10. The Remnant of Israel
  11. The Importance of Prophecy

The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

Every Christian should not only be sure of his salvation in Christ, but also know its results.  He should not only know he is in the Father’s house with all its privileges but be happy there too.  In prophecy God treats us as His friends, and reveals the things He is occupied with.  As our hearts are associated with Him, they realise His love and confidence.  Our lives therefore are coloured by the expectation of what is to come.  With this holy knowledge they would be strangers and pilgrims here.  Being free of human objects, cares and distractions we can be dependent on the One who knows the end from the beginning.

We need to distinguish between that which applies to the Jews, relating to the earth, and that which applies to the Church.

 

 

Whilst prophecy proves the divine source of the Bible, that is not its main purpose.  Prophecy belongs to the Church now and the Remnant in a future day, as a light or torch before things take place.  God tells us the truth; Satan does not.  Do we doubt  God?  Surely we do not need witnesses to persuade us that God is telling the truth.

 

Satan has deceived many by introducing the thought that partially fulfilled prophecies, were in fact complete.  They miss — no scope of prophecy.

 

Most, if not all prophecy is to be fulfilled after the end of this dispensation.  Then it will be too late to be convinced as to the truth.  Those left will experience terrible judgment.  But I read God’s word am restful.  I am enlightened as I cleave to Him instead of my own understanding.  As things unfold I seethe purposes of the most High, opening up His character – His faithfulness, justice, long-suffering.  But He will certainly judge proud iniquity and execute vengeance on these who corrupt the earth, so that His government may be established in peace and blessing.

The judgment of God is to come upon the nations; the church is informed of this; and, thanks to the teaching of the Holy Spirit, understands it, believes it, and escapes the things which are coming.

The Skeptic as to Prophecy

The skeptic views prophecy as merely speculative, vague and uninfluential, the imaginations and vainglory of proud hearts.  The skeptic’s own thoughts are the most speculative.  How Satan deceives!  But prophecy reveals God’s thoughts as to things to come. And the Christian rejoices that “the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab 2:14).  And God will show how.

Communion with God as to Prophecy

Through communion, which is eternal, God comforts and sanctifies us to prevent our hopes being vague.  Thank God “we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:  Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (2 Peter 1:16-21)

 

 

The Purpose of God – The Church and the Jews – the Respective Centres of the Heavenly Glory and of the Earthly Glory in Christ

he Church’s domain

Centre of heavenly glory in Christ

Heaven

Earth

The Church’s domain

Centre of heavenly glory in Christ

The sun in the heavens – “set a tabernacle for the sun” (Ps. 19:4)

The church, angels, principalities, and powers

The Jews domainCentre of earthly glory in Christ

the nations will walk in the light of the sun. It will be manifested on the earth, and the earth will enjoy its blessings.

the people of Israel and the nations belong to the earth.

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth

it was on the earth and among men that the divine and wonderful work of redemption was to be displayed; and this subject is revealed to us in all its fulness.

 Common
The Son Himself, who is the image and glory of God, will be their common centre, and the sun which will enlighten them both.