What do we mean by Dispensational in Christian Teaching?

Biblical history is divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles

J N Darby is sometimes referred to as the father of dispensational theology.  Whilst the thought was not new, and it is clear from scripture, there was in his time (and still is) a lot on muddled thinking amongst believers.  Many teach that we are part of a steady continuum, with for example the church replacing Israel, and that Christ’s kingdom is present, and that the interpretation of periods is purely spiritual or figurative – sometimes called ‘covenant theology’.

In view of this, A Day of Small Things is presenting a short outline of what we mean by the term ‘dispensation’, and where we fit in now.

J N Darby’s teaching, and also that of many servants of the Lord, has been based on the understanding that Biblical history is divided by God into dispensations, defined periods or ages to which God has allotted distinctive administrative principles.  Dispensationalists’ presuppositions start with the harmony of history as focusing on the glory of God and put God at its centre – as opposed to a central focus on humanity and their need for salvation[*].

The Word ‘Dispensation’

The word, οἰκονομία/oikonomia/Strong 3622— (Eph. 1:10), and translated “dispensation” there — is a compound word “house” and “law – the rules or administration, of a household, as in our word  “economy.  In the phrase, “dispensational truth,” it looks at the world as a great household, in which God is dispensing, or administering, according to rule of His own establishing, and in whose order He has from time to time introduced certain changes, the understanding of which is consequently needful, both to the intelligent interpretation of His word and to intelligent action under Him[†]

 

List of Dispensations

There are several lists of dispensations, and to my knowledge, Darby did not produce a formal list, but the classic view lists the following, each associated with a covenant between God and man[‡]:

Innocence– Adam under probation prior to the Fall. Ends with expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Some refer to this period as the Adamic period or the dispensation of the Adamic covenant or Adamic law. (Gen 1:28)

 

Conscience– From the Fall to the Great Flood. Ends with the worldwide deluge. (Gen 3:7)

Human Government– After the Great Flood, humanity responsible to enact the death penalty. Ends with the dispersion at the Tower of Babel. Some use the term Noahide law in reference to this period of dispensation. (Gen 8:15)

Promise – From Abraham to Moses. Ends with the refusal to enter Canaan and the 40 years of unbelief in the wilderness. Some use the terms Abrahamic law or Abrahamic covenant in reference to this period of dispensation. (Gen 12:1)

Law– From Moses to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Ends with the scattering of Israel in AD70. Some use the term Mosaic law in reference to this period of dispensation. (Ex 19:1)

Grace– From the cross to the rapture of the church. The rapture is followed by the wrath of God comprising the Great Tribulation. Some use the term Age of Grace or the Church Age for this dispensation. (Acts 2:1)

Millennial Kingdom– The 1000 year reign of Christ on earth centred in Jerusalem. Ends with God’s judgment on the final rebellion. (Rev 20:4)

 

 

Sosthenes

February 2019

[*]Elements of Dispensational Truth Volume 1 by R. A. Huebner, page 3

[†]From Edward Dennet The Christian Friend, pp. 67-69, 1876, referenced by Huebner above.

[‡]Wikipediabased on Schofield’s Reference Bible, published by Oxford University Press

The Lord’s Coming – Is that REALLY our Expectation?

How much does the hope of the Lord’s return (the rapture) feature in our Christian meetings – an expectation – a hope.  Is it the hope of troubles being ended, of divisions being over, of our poor old bodies being changed  – or the hope of seeing our Saviour whom we love, and being with Him?  Is it also the joy of knowing that at that time, Jesus will have His bride (us!) united to Him in glory.   Is the degree of the expectation of Christ’s imminent return, the thermometer measuring our company’s spiritual warmth?

A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting for fellowship and ministry in the pleasant town of Malvern in Worcestershire England.    The brother serving gave an address on the Lord’s coming. He started with a story:

An elderly sister had spoken to him recently, and said how she woke up during the night with troubles on her mind, especially those amongst the Christian group she was with.  But there were others – the world, her family, herself – particularly her health.  Then she said “Wouldn’t it be great if I woke up thinking, ‘This is the day the Lord is going to come!’  Wouldn’t that make a great difference to the day – and to me?”

The brother serving read from:

  • Luke 12:45That bondman should say in his heart, My lord delays to come’
  • 1 Peter 5:1The elders which are among you I exhort, who am their fellow-elder and witness of the sufferings of the Christ, who also am partaker of the glory about to be revealed’
  • 1 Thess 4:17We, the living who remain, shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and thus we shall be always with the Lord’

This raises questions:

–           Am I really looking forward for Him to come?

–           Is there anything I ought to put right before He comes?

–           Is what I plan to do today according to the Lord’s will?

He quoted J N Darby: ‘The expectation of the return of Christ is the exact measure (the thermometer, so to speak) of the life of the church’ (Collected Writings vol 2 – Prophetic 1 p 292 – Lecture 3 of 11 on ; The Hopes of the Church of God) – See also A Day of Small Things summary – The Second Coming of Christ [*]

This made me think of our Christian gatherings.  How much does the hope of the Lord’s return (the rapture) feature in our meetings – an expectation – a hope.  Is it the hope of troubles being ended, of divisions being over, of our poor old bodies being changed  – or the hope of seeing our Saviour whom we love, and being with Him?  Is it also the joy of knowing that at that time, Jesus will have His bride (us!) united to Him in glory.   Is the degree of the expectation of Christ’s imminent return, the thermometer measuring our company’s spiritual warmth?

Darby wrote his poem ‘Hope’ in 1881, shortly before he was taken.  Unlike many of his poems, it was written in the plural – the company rather than the individual.

And shall we see Thy face,
And hear Thy heavenly voice,
Well known to us in present grace!
Well may our hearts rejoice.
 
We wait to see Thee, Lord!
Yet now within our hearts
Thou dwell’st in love, that doth afford
The joy that love imparts.
 
Yet still we wait for Thee,
To see Thee as Thou art,
Be with Thee, like Thee, Lord, and free
To love with all our heart.
 

Hope by J N Darby (1800-82)

Little Flock 1962/1973 editions – Hymn no 270

Many of the churches in our area have websites.  I have been looking at these, sometimes with blogs, or reproduced sermons, and often with a ‘Statement of Faith’ (either their own or that of the Evangelical Alliance, or in some cases the Nicene Creed[†].

There were traditional churches – Church of England, Baptist, Methodist

There were evangelical churches – Missions, FIEC affiliates, former Open Brethren

Many were charismatic and Pentecostal Churches with names such as: Kings Church , The Word House, King’s Treasure, New Life, Elim Pentecostal, the Incorruptible Word Ministries, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, The Redeemed Evangelical Church of Christ, Jesus Revival Ministries, Beulah Christian Fellowship, House of Favour, Peace & Love Assembly

What saddened me was that not a single one of these seemed to have any appreciation of the present living hope of the church – His imminent coming and the joy of being with Him.  Their outlook appeared totally earth-bound – helping less fortunate people, enjoying exhilarating services, music with choirs and bands, youth outreach (now using social media) etc.  I do not doubt that there are many real lovers of the Lord Jesus in those gatherings, with the full knowledge of their eternal salvation, and who have received and have the knowledge of the indwelling Holy Spirit.  They have light of the Lord’s coming to take up His glorious kingdom on earth, but it is based on a ministry that is wholly earthly.

Even those citing the Lord’s return might be hazy doctrinally.  The ‘Statements of Faith’ below†, seem not to distinguish between the rapture and the appearing and the millennium and eternity.  I guess if these things are viewed as generations in the future, they do not appear important.   Or are the church leaders wanting to avoid contention?

This does not just apply to the churches.  There are many books on prophecy which accurately portray the future, based on the Bible.  But they concentrate on events and judgments.  The joy of our Saviour’s return is often lacking.

Of course, I may be mistaken, in some ways I would like to think that I was, and if there were more who had the light, joy and hope of the rapture, I would be immensely happy.   I have not been to any services in these churches.  I have not read every book on prophecy.

We can thank God there are some places which are different.  I am aware of a couple of places who do not, nor would not, have websites, and where there is a true expectation of the Lord’s return – the meeting where we were till recently, and a nearby Gospel Hall where we know several who go there.  Maybe there are other small companies of believers meeting separately, enjoying the Lord’s support and awaiting His return.  But all this is very few in a conurbation of a quarter-million people.

May the Lord’s return be ever brighter in our hearts – and may the hope of it, and our desire to be with Him, affect our lives individually, and may it enliven our gatherings too.

May God bless you in 2018.

Sosthanes

 

[*] In ‘A Day of Small Things’, I have several articles on the rapture (mainly in summaries of J N Darby’ works – especially ‘The Present Hope of the Church’.  These cover the dispensational teaching, and the reality of the rapture, which could happen at any time, since no prophecies have to be fulfilled first.  More importantly, they also help us see the real hope – the real joy – our Lord and Saviour’s return, and our being with Him.

Some of these are:

 

 

 

[†] The new UK Evangelical Alliance’ New Statement of Faith states, ‘The personal and visible return of Jesus Christ to fulfil the purposes of God, who will raise all people to judgement, bring eternal life to the redeemed and eternal condemnation to the lost, and establish a new heaven and new earth’.  The older Worldwide Statement reads, ‘The expectation of the personal, visible return of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory’.   Also the ancient Nicine Creed (referenced by the Methodists) states, ‘I look for the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come’.

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

The next event for us is the rapture. It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church. Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament. In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated ‘caught up’. The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians? This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear:

A few weeks ago I was talking to some of my younger Christian friends regarding the various things which had happened and were yet to happen.  They had little problem with the history – creation, the fall, the flood, the Exodus, Moses receiving the law,  David, the captivity, the birth of Christ, His death and resurrection, Pentecost etc., but they had real problems with what is to come.  I thought therefore in this and a few coming letters to look at these future events so that we might be sure where we are in relation to them.

 

The Rapture

new-jerusalem-2sThe next event for us is the rapture.  It could be at any time – today even – and applies only to the church.  Because of that, there is no reference to it in the Old Testament.  In scripture, the in Greek word ἁρπαγησόμεθα/harpagēsometha/Strong 726 in 1Thess 4:17. Is translated  ‘caught up’.  The word ‘rapture’ is a noun with the same meaning.

We should ask why is the rapture so little understood, or even accepted amongst many sincere Christians?  This scripture in 1 Thess 14:13-18 is very clear: ‘But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them [Darby – are in no way to anticipate those] which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend 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. Wherefore comfort one another with these words’.  Look at a few phrases ‘the dead in Christ shall rise first’ – that encompasses all those who have been ransomed by His blood from creation onwards.  Whether we who are alive now will be taken before the rapture, none of us knows.  Paul referred to ‘we, the living’, as if he thought it would be within his lifetime.  Of course we know it was not, but he was looking forward to the Lord’s coming – we should be too.[1]

Paul also says, ‘we shall ever be with the Lord’ (v.17), and ‘them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him’.  Now when Jesus comes (the public second coming, often referred to in scripture as ‘the appearing’) the dead in Christ will be with Him – and so will be those lovers of the Lord who were alive at the rapture.  Also, ‘When Christ who is our life shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory’ (Col 3:4).  Clearly, we could not come with Him, if we were still on the earth.

The church is heavenly entity: she belongs to Christ in heaven, and her hope and glory is Christ Himself.  She looks forward to and His return to take up His rights.   Therefore the church has nothing to do with the course of events of the earth.  This makes its rapture and return with Christ 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.’ [2]

1 Cor 15:51-52 is another scripture which describes the rapture: ‘We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. ’  From this we can deduce that there will be a rallying trumpet, the whole event will be very quick, and our bodies will be changed.  The latter is also referred to in  Rom 8:23waiting for the adoption, [to wit], the redemption of our body’.

When the Lord was discoursing with his disciples immediately prior to the crucifixion, He tells them that a place was being prepared for the saints to be with Him, where He is.  ‘I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.’ (John 14:2-3).

Therefore:

  • The rapture will be sudden
  • No one knows when the rapture will be
  • The rapture will be private
  • At the rapture there will be a voice (or trumpet sound) which only Christians will hear
  • At the rapture the Lord will not come quite to the earth – just to the air
  • The rapture will affect people, whether raptured or left here: the world carries on
  • At the rapture bodies will be changed

The question often arises as to what the effect of the saints being taken will be.  Suddenly millions of people will just vanish!  Hal Lindsey, who awakened many Christians to the rapture in the 1970’s in a popular book ‘The Late Great Planet Earth’, said that there would be confusion.  I doubt it.   Christians who are ‘not of the world’ will not be missed.  Writing about future events in his second epistle to the Thessalonians Paul said, ‘God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie’ (2 Thess 2:11).  The Antichrist will conjure up a satisfactory credible explanation which will be accepted universally.

 

The Rapture and the Appearing

We must not confuse the second coming with the rapture.  At the rapture the Lord comes to the atmosphere immediately above the earth.  At the appearing He comes to the earth. Here are some differences between the rapture and the appearing:

 

RAPTURE APPEARING
No one knows when it will be It will be 7 years after the rapture
It will be private It will be very public
The Lord comes to the air The Lord comes to the earth
He comes FOR His saints He comes WITH His saints
It is followed by the great tribulation[3] It is followed by the millennium
He is the Bridegroom He is the King
He is the Morning Star He is the Sun of Righteousness
It is for the Church It is not for the Church
There is little in prophecy There is much in prophecy
The world will carry on Christ will reign
The man of sin will be revealed Satan will be bound
There will be the judgment seat of Christ[3] The world will be judged
People will be translated Nobody will be translated
People will believe a lie The truth will be acknowledged

 

Two Resurrections

Something else many Christians do not realise is the fact there will be two resurrections.  The Old Testament did not distinguish between the two.  John made the distinction very clear.  When the Lord was here, He said ‘all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation’ (John 5:28-29).   Also in Revelation, ‘Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power’ (Rev 20:6).  The second death is to the Great White Throne – the resurrection of the dead for judgment[3].

The first resurrection (the resurrection of the just) is primarily at the rapture.  J N Darby says that it will be the consummation of our happiness[4].  Having given life to our souls, He will give life to our glorified bodies.

Satan is the author of this confusion.  He does not want Christians to burn with anticipation of the Lord’s immediate coming.  He certainly does not want us saying ‘Come Lord Jesus’ (Rev 22:20).

Dear Christian friends, may we keep near Him, and be assured as to the immediacy of His return.

 

 

Sosthenes

December 2016

 

[1] See ‘ADOSS – The Lord is Coming Very Soon’

[2] Note that this is distinct from the individuals who, though not of this world have to do with things here.

[3] This will be addressed in a later note, God willing.

[4] Lecture 4 on ‘The Hopes of the Church of God’, summarised by ADOSS asThe First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just’

 

See other references in ADOSS:

 

John Nelson Darby’s Prophetic Map

In 1828 or 1829 Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).

This article looks aback over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.

JohnNelsonDarbyIn 1828 or 1829 J N Darby drew his ‘Prophetic Map’ (see JND Notes & Comments Vol 2 – page 192).  Of course he was well versed in Daniel 11

This article looks back over what Darby wrote in the light of various things that have happened in the world since then.  For example:

  • The break-up of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of many independent states in the Middle East
  • The first and second World Wars
  • The Treaty of Rome and the European Union
  • NATO and allies
  • The United Nations and other treaty organisations
  • The rise and fall of the Russian (Soviet) Empire and its resurgent ambitions
  • Former Warsaw Pact nations aligning themselves with the West, joining NATO and the European Union
  • Colonial independence from Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Netherlands etc
  • Post WW2 political and later economic migration
  • Formation of the State of Israel and territorial disputes
  • The growing significance of Islam, and the hostility between the Sunni and Shi’ite divisions
  • Islamic jihad terrorist organisations such as ‘Islamic State’, al Qaeda and  Boko Haram
  • The wealth of the Arabs etc. due to oil
  • Increased material wealth and generally reduced poverty
  • The dominance of the United States
  • Improvements in health care
  • Legalisation and even promotion of unorthodox/immoral lifestyles
  • Modern communications, radio, TV and the internet
  • The green movement
  • The large migration of Eastern people to Europe, America and elsewhere, bringing the influence of religions such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

 

I will treat the various areas of the world, citing Darby’s analysis and opinion and possible deductions in describing his Prophetic Map.  I have also noted a couple of things I do not understand.  Doubtless this could be a topic for discussion.

I might add that this does not involve the church.  However we Christians should be intelligent as to events in the world, and also know what will happen here after the rapture of the church .  Of course we will not be here!

 

JN Darby's Prophetic MapEurope, the ‘Western World’ and the Antichrist

Europeans are primarily descendants of Japheth,  Gomer (hence Germany also known as Cimmerians – from which Cimbri – Celts), and Magog (Scythians/Russians), and Madai (Medes), and Javan (Greece) , and Tubal (Tiblisi? i.e. the Caucuses), and Meshech Moschi – Armenians), and Tiras (probably Goths/Scandinavians) see Genesis 10:2-3 (and Elicott’s Ethnological Table.  However, with so much migration over the millennia, clear demarcations are impossible.

Darby believed that France, not the USA, would become the dominant Western power.  At the time France was in turmoil:  Napoleon, whose objective had been European integration, had been defeated, and there was continued unrest up to the establishment of the Second Republic in 1848.  France would not have been considered a potential leader of Europe at ay time during JND’s adult life, it being in trouble again in the 1870’s after the Franco-Prussian war.

In drawing up his Prophetic Map, Darby foresaw European unity – at least as nation states working together, and that is what we have.  At the time of writing Britain had just elected to withdraw from the European Union.  Nevertheless, it will remain in the larger political/military grouping of NATO and probably the European Economic Area.  However, it will not be in a position to lead Europe.  Indeed, in Darby’s paper England is described as a minor irritant – this must have been perceptive considering the world dominant position of the British Empire in the 1800’s.

Germany, whilst the largest economy, has never led, still being held back by the WW2 legacy.  Hitler, another prefigurement of the Antichrist had thankfully been defeated.   Darby referred to Austria.  Of course this country’s influence has become minor since the fall of the Hapsburgs, and even more so since Hitler (an Austrian) annexed the country to Germany.  It would remain part of the West European nations.  He was also critical of Poland and to date the role of this populous nation has been limited to its part in the downfall of the Soviet system, and to providing the Pope in office at the time.

Roman Catholicism will be the dominant religion, especially as so-called Protestant churches veer towards Rome.  Elsewhere Darby made it clear that this would be increasingly so despite the strength of atheistic secularism.  The large influx of Muslims, and those of Eastern religions will in time make way for the unified false Babylon religion.  Already, in the UK, Muslims represent about 10% of the religiously active population, with Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists making 5%.  There is even a trend to pre-Christian paganism.

Biblically the sphere of operations is the area covered by the Roman Empire and some extensions in Europe, Asia and Africa.  Outgoings of Europe in the rest of the world – USA, Canada, Australia, Latin America etc., are not part of the sphere or provide leadership, but can be regarded as part of the expanded Roman Empire in Revelation.

Did Darby foresee the modern advances in technology and its impact?  He saw the improvement in communications and was not ignorant of scientific thought.  What is clear from his writings is that he relates a lot to the influence of the East, embraced by the West.

So it is not impossible that France will be the dominant Western force, supporting Darby’s prediction that the Antichrist would come from that country, despite all that has happened in the last 200 years.  Who knows?

Prophetic-map

Russia and the King of the North

Darby was quite specific as to this area, drawing on Ezekiel and Daniel in particular.

On the European side we have Russia, referred to in prophecy as Rosh and Meshech (Moscow?) and Tubal.  He thought that Russia would come to dominate Turkey-in-Asia, but I believe that if it does, it will control the whole country.  Istanbul is as much Turkey as Ankara.  This is not impossible.  Whilst Turkey has been a member of NATO for decades, and would like to join the European Union, there are areas of tension with NATO and strong resistance to its joining the EU.   Like Russia it does not really have democratic government.  Having lost the Eastern European countries to the EU after the fall of communism, there is little doubt that Russia would like to extend its sphere of influence.  Russia’s influence and control would then extend from the Arctic to the Mediterranean.

The other area that Darby thought that Russia would dominate (though not control) is that of Persia (Iran) and Media the Japhetic children of Medai .  [Darby said that that Persia was a subservient Hamitic people, but their language does not bear this out.  Probably he was referring to what we now know as the Iraqis who speak Arabic, but would have been, like the Canaanites, descended from Ham – Sosthenes].   Darby’s map shows this area extending eastwards as far as the Indus River, and therefore embracing a lot of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and  south to include Syria and Lebanon.  Although those countries are mostly Sunni, Iran would like to control all the Muslim regions in that part of the world.

Significantly Darby hardly mentions Islam – just four passing references to the religion or to Mohammed.   Any review must take account of the increased profile of this religion, its divisions and the violent actions in its name.  He never referred to the two opposing Sunni and Shi’ite divisions of that religion.  The Shi’ite religion, with its observance of shrines and icons is probably more compatible with Orthodox Christendom, so there is a natural fit here.  The Assyrians are referred to a lot – basically the same people.

Finally, in this group are the descendants of Nimrod, the hunter.  These Hamites led to the Huns and the Magyars, now occupying Hungary and much of the Balkans.  Russia would have to wrest these countries from the EU and stop Serbia and the Ukraine from joining.

 

Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the King of the South

The area ‘between the two rivers’ (i.e. the Euphrates and the Nile) is occupied by descendants of Shem and Ham.  Ishmael (Arabs) and Hamites – from Cush, Phut and Mizraim (Egypt and North Africa) are generally stricter, puritanical Sunni Muslims rivalling the Shi’ites to the north.  Doubtless due to financial relationships with the West, Darby’s words could be fulfilled, ‘Eastern descendants of Ham, just as the western or southern descendants of Ham will be at the steps of Antichrist or the mature apostate body, for they will be judged as Antichrist, Gog and Magog, for coming against the Jews.’ (See original paper).

J. N. Darby. – Notes and Comments Vol. 2. page 192

Available from Kingston Bible Trust (Lancing Sussex), Bibles etc. (Wheaton IL)  and elsewhere

 

The Prophetic Map: What does all this mean?

All this is very interesting, but has no direct bearing on the church.  But as Darby says, ‘There is not a more important chapter in Scripture as to the providence of God than Genesis 10.  The Noahic and Abrahamic earth under Providence leaves the will of man to act.  All the powers of the world will be brought together as they have acted within the limits of God’s known providence, and formed the subject of Scriptural statement as to kingdoms, i.e., powers in the world previous to the interposition and restoration of the four great kingdoms with the power of Ezekiel [especially ch. 38], acting as described in Joel [chs. 2 and 3]; and of other types. The Gog and Magog of Revelation includes all and runs over the whole extent of the inhabited earth, not the powers of the earth as in the formative system, for then the system is formed and it is re-action, in God’s wisdom and permission, of judgment on those not truly of it, as I am led to believe.’

 

Sosthenes

July 2016

 

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

J N Darby – Unfoldings – O Lord, Thy Glory we Behold

O LORD, Thy glory we behold,
Though not with mortal eyes;
That glory, on the Father’s throne,
No human sight descries.

C.M.

O LORD, Thy glory we behold,
Though not with mortal eyes;
That glory, on the Father’s throne,
No human sight descries.

But though the world can see no more
Him it cast out with scorn,
The eye of fresh-born faith can soar
Above – where He is gone.

‘Tis not for human eye to see
Nor human ear to hear,
Nor heart conceive what it may be,
Or bring the prospect near;

But God in love has freely given
His Spirit, who reveals
All He’s prepared for those, in heaven,
Whom here on earth He seals.

‘Tis thence, now Christ is gone on high,
Redemption’s work complete,
The Spirit brings His glory nigh
To those who for Him wait.

Blest gift! As sons we look above
And see the Saviour there;
And, fruit of God’s now well-known love,
We shall His glory share.

God has been glorified in Man;
Man sits at God’s right hand –
Obedient in the race He ran,
Can now all power command.

In lowliness on earth, as Son,
The Father He made known;
And now in heaven, His work all done,
He sits upon His throne.

And we our great Fore-runner see
In His own glory there;
Yet not ashamed – with such as we,
As First-born, all to share.

For we as sons through grace are owned,
And “Abba, Father,” cry;
Heirs too, so rich did grace abound,
Joint-heirs with Him on high.

The Father’s love, the source of all,
Sweeter than all it gives,
Shines on us now without recall,
And lasts while Jesus lives.

The new creation’s stainless joy
Gleams through the present gloom,
That world of bliss without alloy,
The saint’s eternal home!

J N Darby, 1881

Edited version in Little Flock Hymn Book  (1962, 1973) – No 81

The Lord is Coming Very Soon

The Rapture of the Church

new-jerusalem-2sI’ve just seen a video put up by Gregory Miller –  I Don’t Believe That You Don’t Believe In The Pre-Trib Rapture – 

Most Christians are really not waiting for the Lord’s coming – but are not planning for the tribulation either.  Through God’s mercy we will be saved out of that – See the letter to the Church at Smyrna (modern day Izmir)

But His coming is the Hope of the Church – so every Christian should be waiting for it.  Jesus says “I come quickly”  (Revelation 22:20)

I love this hymn, written by a Godly Russian, Daniel Otsing.

O Lord, with our ears and hearts open,
To the sound of Thy trump we would be.
The summons that calls us to heaven,
For ever to be Lord with Thee.
Thy word and Thy Spirit blest Lover,
As earnest is given to Thy bride,
Thou art near to faith’s vision, O Saviour,
But soon she will be by Thy side

O come! Thou, Lord Jesus, we’re watching;
And take now Thy spouse home to Thee.
Thine absence awakens deep yearning,
The bride her loved Bridegroom to see.
Thy heart, O Lord Jesus is throbbing,
With love, deep, eternal, we know;
Our hearts in response, with love’s “burning”,
Await Thee, with lamps all aglow.

The Spirit and bride are united
In saying, “Come, Lord”, yea, come soon.
Throughout the long night she has waited
To see Thee, her faithful Bridegroom.
Gross darkness, the earth doth now cover,
And night like a pall shrouds the land.
Thy flock is still here, Shepherd, Lover,
The sheep Thou hast kept by Thy hand.

Midst darkness faith clearly sees beaming
The light of Thy coming afar,
We watch for the dawn of the morning,
Blest herald: “The bright morning star”.
The word of Thy patience we’re keeping,
Its radiancy beams on our path,
Like a beacon us, heavenward attracting,
To meet Thee: The hope of our heart.

How sweet is Thy word, “I come quickly”.
“Amen!” answer Spirit and bride;
Responsive to love, faithful, holy,
That never has once turned aside.
Thy promise is sure; blest Protector,
“Not one shall be lost”, is Thy word;
Of the “men given” Thee by Thy Father,
We praise Thee; we bless Thee O Lord.

Petrograd (St Peterburg), 1917,

Selected verses in Little Flock Hymn Book Hymn 131

 

 

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.