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.

 

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.

 

Ecclesiastical Apostasy and Civil Apostasy

.These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth. But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever. … Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces. And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.

 

JN Darby Lecture 6 on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

…These great beasts, which are four, are four kings, which shall arise out of the earth.   But the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom, and possess the kingdom for ever, even for ever and ever.  … Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms, and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.  And the ten horns out of this kingdom are ten kings that shall arise: and another shall rise after them; and he shall be diverse from the first, and he shall subdue three kings.  (Daniel 7:16-27.)

The Two Characters of Evil: Ecclesiastical Apostasy, and Civil Apostasy – Summary by Sosthenes

 The angel gave Daniel the interpretation of the vision of the beasts,  but the principal subject of Daniel 7 is the beast who exalts and elevates himself against the most high God.

There are two characters in the evil which manifests itself on the earth:

  • Ecclesiastical apostasy, that of the Church
  • Civil apostasy, that of human government and organisation

[These colours will be used to make it easier to follow which relates to which – Sosthenes]

The apostasy of the church has in principle already taken place.  There will be more open manifestations of it later.

The civil power will rise against Christ, whom God will establish King over the earth, because all government belongs to Him.  He will be Judge,but this is not the last or general judgment.

Everybody existing on the earth at the end of the times will be either subject to Christ, and therefore saved and sent to life eternal, or in rebellion and condemned to eternal punishment.  This is the judgment of the quick, the nations on the earth, not of the dead.  Before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” (Matthew 25:32).  The judgment of the living is as certain as that of the dead

Ecclesiastical Wickedness is always the Worst

The ecclesiastical power, will no longer be wielding the secular arm, riding on the beast, and ruling it.   It will take on a more mysterious and dangerous form.  Its occult influence continues, deprived of its outward splendour.   The church’s revolt begins when, instead of being subject to Christ, it gives itself over to the will and power of man, leans upon man for aid, and renounces truth to follow error.  When the church is not guided by the Holy Spirit, and is not subject to Christ, Christendom becomes completely apostate.

Because the ecclesiastical power, is no longer a political power deposing kings, there is a temptation to suppose that it has disappeared.  However, its moral influence survives.  Its influence urges the civil power to revolt against God.  This will lead to its ultimate destruction.

Men lift themselves up in pride, and combine against God, and so prepare the way for the son of perdition.

Civil apostasy will have its time of manifestation

Scripture tells us that all civil power is of God. Now, in the same way that the church rebels against God, civil government will be found in a state of revolt and apostasy. Instead of confessing allegiance to God, the source of its authority, it sets itself up against Him.

At the end of the present dispensation, the civil power will be found in this same state of revolt as the church.  In the civil power apostasy will be more manifest and prominent than it is in the church. This will take place in the bosom of Christendom; and ecclesiastical wickedness will be its motivating power.

Those who will have revolted ought to have instructed the church and represented the wisdom of God, reminding governments of their duty towards God.   They will conceal the truth, seduce the world, and lead the civil power to depart from God.

Armageddon

What do we find at Armageddon? A false prophet who falls there along with the beast. From the beginning to the end, there is always a beast, and with the beast a false prophet. It is the one or the other who guides the rebellion. But at the end the beast takes the lead, as being able to act more directly and freely: thus it is the beast that becomes the direct object of judgment.

Relationship with the Jews

The beast, or the civil power of the fourth monarchy, sets himself in revolt against God.  But this monarchy will establish a relationship with the Jews.   This re-introduces the history of God’s people.

The unconverted Jews will have returned to their own land, though without being.  However, there will be saints among them.  The Jews will find themselves in a relatuonship with the fourth beast who exalts himself against God, putting himself in direct opposition to Christ, the King of the Jews.

Christ will then exercise His rights as King of the Jews.  He will come down from heaven, destroy the beast together with the Antichrist.

Persecution of the Jews

If we consider the history of the beast in a general manner, both in its pagan form under the Roman emperors such as Tiberias Caesar, or later, in the form of the corrupted Christianity of the Middle Ages, we see there have always been persecutions against the saints.  And in her was found the blood of prophets, and of saints, and of all that were slain upon the earth,” (Rev. 18:24).

As prophecy is fulfilled and the civil power openly revolts, persecutions fall on the Jews.  As soon as the rights of Christ, as King of the Jews, are affected, the Jews appear on the scene; for the Jews are God’s earthly people.  Of course, the church will be entirely out of the scene at the time of these  persecutions.

The Woman and the Beast

We get the woman clothed with scarlet, a power whose principal element is ecclesiastical.  She is mounted on the beast (civil power).  After that, “the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore [ecclesiastical power], and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire. For God hath put in their [the ten kings’] hearts to . . . give their kingdom to the beast.” (Revelation 17:12-18)

The Limitation of Satan’s Power

The word of God puts in contrast the world and the Father, flesh and Spirit, Satan and the Son of God.  Satan desires to destroy Christ, the One who is to govern all nations with a rod of iron, and, and in destroying Christ, destroy the church.

Satan has no power over our consciences if we have understood the value of the blood of Christ; but he is still in heaven, accusing the children of God.   There will be a battle in heaven.   Satan will be cast down from heaven, but will not yet be chained to the bottomless pit.   The fruits of his wickedness will not yet have found their limit; so it is said, “the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12)

Satan, having been cast down to the earth, will act through the agency of the Roman Empire.  This is the terrestrial agency.  The authority of the dragon (Satan) becomes established in the Roman Empire. It is seen in the beast with seven heads and ten horns.

The False Prophet

There is also another beast (not the Roman Empire) which exercises all the power of the first beast before him.

I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; . .And he doeth great wonders, …, and deceiveth them that dwell on the earth” (Revelation 13:11-14). This has the appearance of Christ’s power, but it is Satan’s.   This second beast, as the false prophet, will seduce the inhabitants of the earth, and who will cause them to follow the first beast, that is the civil power of the Roman Empire.

And I saw one of the heads, as it were wounded to death.”  (Revelation 13:3).  Although the imperial form of the Roman Empire collapsed centuries ago, the wound is to be entirely healed. And all the earth will wonder.  

The Mystery of the Woman and the Beast

“I will tell thee the mystery of the woman and of the beast that carrieth her, which hath the seven heads and ten horns. The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.”

This is what will happen when Satan, having been cast out of heaven, will come down to the earth in great wrath.  Then, under his influence the beast (the Roman Empire, the civil power) will resume his strength and form.  Instead of being in submission to God, it will take on the character of Satan in open revolt against the power of God.  Instead of replacing it, ten kings “shall give their strength and power unto the beast“. (Revelation 17:13)

There will be an imperial head – an emperor, and ten kings, who will give him their power; the kingdoms will continue in existence, but there will be a confederation of them.

One king is yet to come; and when he comes, he will last a very short while.  He will re-unite all the power of the beast.  In essence this will be the beast himself, the imperial head under a new form.  After dealing in an idolatrous and apostate way in Jerusalem, he will find his end with that first beast.  Thus he will go down to destruction.

A Word to the Believer

Paul had evidently spoken a good deal about these things to the church of the Thessalonians, and had taught them to expect the Lord’s coming.  Now, what did Satan do?  He tried to terrify them, by telling them that the day of the Lord had already arrived.  So Paul says  Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind   (2 Thessalonians 2:1) 

Those who love the truth will not be deceived by this.  They will be caught up into the air.   The false prophet, which is the second beast, will be thrown into the lake of fire along with the first.  Then all those who have “not received the love of the truth” (2:Thessalonians 2:10) will be delivered to the judgment of God.  It is to this that the world ought to be warned.

When Israel was owned of God as His people publicly, some nations were in league against them.  The Jews were carried into captivity, and this started the times of the Gentiles.   The kingdom was transferred from the Jews to the four beasts.  Daniel speaks of the four beasts only; Ezekiel speaks of the nations before and after the four beasts; but never of “the times of the Gentiles,” so called.

The Antichrist

The history of Christianity takes place during the of these four beasts that comes.  At the same time there is moral rebellion.    The ecclesiastical power assumes the place of God.  It takes away faith, putting aside natural religion, corrupting and perverting the revelation of God, so that men should have no other objects than themselves.

However, the ecclesiastical power will itself fall a victim to the violence of the human will, insubject to God; and by its pretensions to religion, openly serve Satan.  It will provoke crimes which it dares not consummate itself; the civil power will be the active chief and executor.

The corruption of the church – that which is most excellent – is the worst of all corruptions.  The Antichrist will deny that Jesus is the Christ; he will “deny the Father and the Son” (John 2:22);

Satan will work directly by him. It will be a sort of satanic imitation of what God has done.

  • The Father has given the throne to the Son;  the dragon (Satan) will confer the throne on the beast.
  • The Spirit acts in the church, according to the power of the Son before Him;  the second beast (spiritual power, Antichrist, and false prophet) exercises all the power of this last beast (civil power) before him.

See Rev. 13:12.  And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed.

Conclusion

This is consummation of Adam’s wickedness as Adam in his first sin – the fall.  By contrast, our beloved and perfect Saviour made expiation for us.

May God make us attentive both to the character and the end of man’s pride!  May God’s name of grace and glory be eternally blessed; and may He engrave these things upon our hearts! Certainly He will preserve His church from all these evils which menace the world for His church is united to Him.

 

 

The Judgment of Evil

e must expect evil to increase in the world, particularly in Christendom, both secularly and religiously.

However evil does not come under judgment until the end of this age; that is, of the dispensation closed by the coming of Christ.

The knowledge of God will then fill the earth. How? By the judgment of God, which must begin at the house of God.

Three sorts of apostasy are brought together typified by Cain, Balaam and Korah. The beast will exalt himself above all that is called God. This must happen before the day of the Lord comes.

JN Darby: Lecture 5 on “The Hopes of the Church of God

The Progress of Evil on the Earth and its Judgment – Summary by Sosthenes

Thou art this head of gold.  And after thee shall arise another kingdom inferior to thee; then another third kingdom of brass, which shall bear rule over all the earth.  And the fourth kingdom shall be strong as iron  (Daniel 2:38-40).

new-jerusalem-2sWe must expect evil to increase in the world, particularly in Christendom,  both secularly and religiously.

However evil does not come under judgment until the end of this age; that is, of the dispensation closed by the coming of Christ.

The knowledge of God will then fill the earth.  How?  By the judgment of God, which must begin at the house of God.

Three sorts of apostasy are brought together typified by Cain, Balaam and Korah.  The beast will exalt himself above all that is called God.  This must happen before the day of the Lord comes.

As evil increases, Christians see the proximity of judgment, piety increases and Christians withdraw from evil.  They preach the gospel but there is little result.

 

Evil increases, especially in Christendom

Instead hoping that good will continue to progress, we must expect evil to do so.   We are deluded if we think that the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord before He exercises judgment.  We are to expect evil, until it becomes so flagrant that it will be necessary for the Lord to judge it.

This is the character which this wickedness will take, as an external, secular power:

  • Evil will go on increasing until the end.
  • Satan will urge it on until the Lord destroys his power.
  • The apostasy will take place in Christendom.
  • The Antichrist will fall and be ruined.

Let us draw on the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matt 13:24-30).   Satan had put evil in the field where the good seed of the word had been sown.  This will remain there and ripen.  Christians will not enjoy the result of its removal, because the evil is to remain until the day of judgment:  “Let both grow together until the harvest.”  The harvest is at the end of the world – the end of this age; that is, of the dispensation closed by the coming of Christ.

Now, in God’s dealings, we have to do with grace and not with judgment.  It is not for us to judge the world.

The tares are evil things such as heresy or the corruption of the truth.  These are sown by the enemy after Jesus Christ had sown the good seed.   But the Lord says it should remain until the harvest. The evil which Satan has produced by a corrupted religion will exist until the end. All our efforts ought to be directed – not to pluck out the tares but to gather in the children of God – to assemble together the co-heirs of Jesus Christ.

 

The Apostasy

God says:

The Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy . . . .“( 1 Timothy 4:1.)

and

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come . . . .“( 2 Timothy 3:1-5).

We believe that the knowledge of the Lord shall fill the earth; but that is not the question. The question is, ‘How will this be accomplished?’  By the judgment of God “When thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:9).

In Timothy. “Men shall be lovers of their own selves,” etc. These are not pagans; they are Christians, nominal Christians.  It is written about them, “Having the form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. … They shall wax worse and worse.” (2 Timothy 3:5,13

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.” Compare these words with Acts 20:29-31: “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock; also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”   1 Peter 4:17.  It is clear that this state of things began during the lifetime of the apostles.

In 1 John 2:11 we get three sorts of apostasy brought together upon which last the judgment will fall.

  • Natural apostasy (the character of Cain – hatred and unrighteousness)
  • Ecclesiastical apostasy (Balaam – teaching wrong things for a recompense)
  • Open revolt (Korah, who set himself up against the rights of priesthood and of royalty, the royalty of Christ, in the types of Moses and Aaron.

The great whore has ruled the beast whose self-will and blaspheming character will be fully manifested in his last apostasy.  Meanwhile, Christians desire the destruction of the whore’s influence .   In 2 Thess. 2:3-12 it says, “That day shall not come except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God.

All this must happen before the day of the Lord comes.

Antichrist will unite in his person the characters of wickedness which have appeared from the beginning:

  • Man has always wanted to have his own will
  • He has exalted himself against God;
  • He has put himself under the guidance of Satan.

There are three successive beasts:

  • The empire of Babylon
  • The empire of the Persians
  • The empire of the Greeks, or of Alexander in particular
  • The Roman Empire – a beast with marks altogether peculiar to itself.

Before this, the throne of God was on the earth at Jerusalem.

The force and power of Christ’s judgment  is seen in Isaiah 11:4, “With the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked

Nebuchadnezzar began by establishing a false religion by force. He made a statue that all the world was to worship, and he became lifted up in heart; so he was made to become as a beast for seven years.

The Rejection of Christ

The chief priests, who were, in God’s view, the representatives of religion upon earth, and Pontius Pilate, the representative of earthly power, joined in league together to reject and put to death the Son of God. Thus the fourth monarchy became guilty of rejecting the rights of the Messiah.   The Jews are set aside; and then comes in the calling of the church for the heavenly places.  If God permits the Jews to return to their country for a short time, it is that His Son might appear at the re-commencement of the fourth monarchy.

But as to that which concerns the church on earth, we have seen it marred by the seed of the wicked one, and the apostasy which resulted from it;  (Dan. 7:9,11), “I beheld till the thrones were cast down and the Ancient of days did sit…. I beheld then, because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake; I beheld, even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning”.  The Roman Empire has continued; it has even become Christian.

The Lord coming to Judge

Verses 13, 14: “I saw … one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

The kingdom is given to the Son of man, when the fourth beast is destroyed. The judgment and destruction of the fourth monarchy has not yet taken place, as we know from Daniel 2:34, 35: “Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and day, and brake them to pieces…. and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.”

It is after the total destruction of the statue that the stone begins to grow; which signifies that the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, which is to fill the whole earth, will not begin to spread until after the fourth beast has been judged and destroyed.

The beast that thou sawest was, and is not” (Revelation 7:18): is the Roman Empire. As an empire, it exists no longer; but what follows?  It will come out of the pit. It will have a really diabolical character; it will be a full expression of the power of Satan.  This king will assume all the rights and privileges of Christ, arrogating them to himself: “I will ascend into heaven” – what Christ only has done; “I will exalt myself above the stars of God.” (Isaiah 14:13-14).  Even the Jewish nation will receive him who comes in his own name

Little Result from Preaching the Gospel

The church’s task was to proclaim the glory of Christ everywhere.  Many evangelical Christians therefore hope that, through better evangelical endeavour, the gospel will spread itself all over the world during this dispensation.    But If you are entertaining hopes,  you are deceived.  Now we can only expect poor results.

God told Noah that He was going to destroy the world.  Did this prevent his preaching to his fellow mortals?   This animated him, in order that he might gain those who had ears to hear.   And the result – eight, just his family.

Yet we preach the gospel – the only means of causing men to escape the righteous judgments which threaten them.   God gives, at the same time, power to the testimony that would separate the good from that which is under judgment.  I believe this to be God’s usual mode of procedure.

When we see evil increasing, and God drawing away believers from that evil, it may be taken as a sign that the judgment of God is nigh.

Signs of the Times

There are two signs of the proximity of judgment:

  • Piety increases
  • Christians withdraw from evil

In the word of God we see that the present economy will have an end.  Evil will progress to a greater and greater height, until the wicked one is destroyed by the coming of Christ.

Let us conclude with the warning which the Saviour gives us: “Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness; otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” (Romans 11:22.)

Has the church kept itself in this goodness of God?  Christendom has become completely corrupted; the dispensation of the Gentiles has been found unfaithful: Can it be restored? No: impossible.  As the Jewish dispensation was cut off, the Christian dispensation will be cut off too. May God give us grace to continue steadfast in our hope, and to rest upon His faithfulness

The Rapture

Heir of all things, of the church as co-heir with Him, and of the coming of Christ to reign before the thousand-year millennium.

In this lecture, Mr Darby distinguishes between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the wicked. The first takes place before the millennium; the other afterwards. The first resurrection, the resurrection from among the dead was a thing that really gripped the early church.

The truth of the resurrection of the church should become bound up in our minds, with the precious truths of our salvation.

resurrection_chart02

JN Darby Lecture 4  on “The Hopes of the Church of God”

The First Resurrection – or The Resurrection of the Just. – Summary by Sosthenes

The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner. Luke 20:17.

In the earlier lectures, Darby spoke of Christ as the Heir of all things, of the church as co-heir with Him, and of the coming of Christ to reign before the thousand-year millennium.  

In this lecture, Mr Darby distinguishes between the resurrection of the just and the resurrection of the wicked.  The first takes place before the millennium; the other afterwards.  The first resurrection, the resurrection from among the dead was a thing that really gripped the early church.  

The truth of the resurrection of the church should become bound up in our minds, with the precious truths of our salvation.

The two Resurrections

The Lord says, ”The hour is coming, in the which 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)

Paul says, “There shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (Acts 24:15)  But they are not the same, though accomplished by the same power.

The resurrection of the just (or the resurrection of the church apart) is altogether distinct from the resurrection of the unjust.  The resurrection of the just, which we await, precedes the millennium.  The church will participate in the coming of Christ to reign.  This is the subject of the first resurrection.

We must not confuse the resurrection of the just with that of the unjust, and the judgment before the great white throne.  Between the resurrection of the faithful and the wicked a thousand years elapse.  The resurrection of the unjust will not take place until after the millennium.

In the passages concerning the resurrection, not one speaks of a simultaneous rising of just and unjust; and those which refer to the resurrection of the just always speak of it as a distinct thing.  All will rise. There will be a resurrection of the just, and a resurrection of the unjust, but they will not take place together.

The Resurrection of the Dead

When it says that Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power . . . by the resurrection of the dead.” (Romans 1:4), it is not exclusively by His own resurrection, though this was the first and most important proof. The expression, “from among the dead,” is employed elsewhere. It is an expression that does not just relate to the present, and indicates a divine power in the realm of death. [Note from JND’s Synopsis – It is by His resurrection,” but “by resurrection” abstractly. His own was the great proof, but that of every man is a proof likewise”.]

The word of God is simple, clear, and convincing; but preconceived ideas often rob us of its natural sense. We have habits of thinking apart from Scripture.

The resurrection links our hopes to Christ and the whole church, in one word, to the counsels of God in Christ.  We are entirely set free in Him, united to Him by the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit is also the source of all strength for glorifying Him, sustaining our hopes now.   Finally, resurrection expresses all our salvation, since we are introduced into a new creation.  The power of God places us, in the second Adam, beyond the sphere of sin, of Satan, and of death.

The resurrection was the foundation of the preaching of the apostles, Acts 1:22, they said,  “One must be with us a witness of his resurrection“.  Peter said “This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.” (v.32).

The soul in departing goes to Jesus, but is not glorified.  It does not say that the soul in dying goes to heaven, but that the dead shall live again.

In the expression “Brought life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10),  ‘immortality’ signifies the incorruptibility of the body, and not the immortality of the soul.  The Saviour adds, ”Neither can they die any more . . . for they are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.”

What the Greeks Taught – Resurrection vs. Reincarnation

In Athens, Paul announced, among the learned Gentiles, the doctrine of resurrection (Acts 17:18-30).   This  was the stumbling-stone of their carnal wisdom. Socrates and other philosophers believed, after a fashion, in the immortality of the soul (metempsychosis or reincarnation).   About the time of Origen (d. c253), the coming of Christ was denied, or at least lost sight of, and the doctrine of the immortality began to displace that of the resurrection.  

When these scientifically minded men heard of the resurrection of the dead, they mocked.  An unbeliever is able to discuss immortality; but if he hears about the resurrection of the dead, he turns the subject into derision.  And why?  Because, in talking of the immortality of the soul he may exalt himself and elevate his own self importance and power.

A body that has been reduced to dust can be reconstituted by God into a living and glorified man, because nothing is hid from His power.  The leading truth, however, is the resurrection of the body, not the immortality of the soul.

The Resurrection of the Church Apart

God is the “God who raiseth the dead” (2 Cor. 1:9) – or  “quickeneth the dead” (Romans 4:23-25).  We are called upon to believe that the resurrection of Jesus is the power, or the efficacy, of our justification.  The resurrection of Jesus was the great proof.

In Colossians 2:12, it says “Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.” The church is raised now, because Christ is raised as its Head.

The justification of the church is, that it is risen with Christ.  Evidently the resurrection from among the dead was a thing that concerned the church exclusively.

It is on Account of the Holy Spirit who is in us, that we shall be Raised

The presence of the Holy Spirit in the church is that which characterises our position before God.

Our body is the temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:19).  Therefore our soul is filled, or at least it ought to be, with the glory of Christ.  Our body will be raised through the power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us. This can never be said of the wicked.

Judgment of the Wicked

All who are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall go forth; those that have practised good, to resurrection of life, and those that have done evil, to resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28 JND)

Two acts of Christ are presented as the attributes of His glory; one, to make alive; the other, to judge.  All judgment is entrusted to Him, in order that all, even the wicked, should honour the Son, as they honour the Father.

Jesus was treated shamefully down here, so as to the wicked.  Therefore, the way of obliging the wicked to recognise the rights of Jesus, is to judge them; and this judgment is in the hands of Jesus Himself.    But the Father does not judge, because it is not He that has been wronged, but the Son.  For the wicked, the time of the judgment – the judgment both of the living and of the dead – will be at the great white throne.  The wicked will own Jesus Christ in spite of themselves when they are judged.

Two Resurrections

In the work of making alive, or vivification, the Father and Son act together.  Those to whom life is given are put into communion with the Father and Son.   At what epoch will these things be accomplished for the just?   At the resurrection of the just, when the bodies of the children of God participate in the life that has already communicated to their souls (the life of Christ Himself).

Because Jesus said, “The hour is coming in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice.”  (v.28)  it may be alleged that the wicked and the just will rise together.  But three verses earlier it said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.” So evidently, there is a time of quickening and a time of judgment; there is a period during which souls are quickened, and a period when bodies shall be raised.

There will be a resurrection of life for those who have been already quickened in their souls; and a resurrection of judgment for those who have rejected Jesus.

Those who Sleep in Jesus

”Christ has become the firstfruits of them that slept…. They that are Christ’s [shall rise] at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father” (1 Corinthians 15:23).  When He comes, He will take the kingdom, but at the end He will deliver it up.  The appearing of Christ will therefore take place before the end; it will be for the destruction of the wicked. He will come to purify His kingdom.

“Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him”; “and the dead in Christ shall rise first.” (1 Thessalonians 4:14-16).  It is the fulfilment of our hopes;  the fruit of our justification, and the consequence of the Holy Spirit dwelling in us.

This resurrection from among the dead is just this first resurrection which Paul had before his eyes. I am willing, he says, as it were, to lose all, to suffer all, if, cost what it may, I arrive at the resurrection of the just: such is my desire. I might say, like the apostle, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”

The resurrection of the just will be the consummation of our happiness; after having given life to our souls, He will give life to our bodies.   We never read in the word of God of glorified spirits, but always of glorified bodies.  There is the glory of God, and the glory of those who will be raised.

Conclusion

The knowledge of this truth, by the power of Christ, will strengthen us in our hearts.  For this knowledge is that to which the scripture applies the word “perfection.”  [i.e. being fit, or qualified for an office].  Christ was thus made perfect as to His state and position before God; so we, ourselves, are now made perfect by faith.

May our bodies, souls, and spirits, be preserved blameless until the coming of our Well-beloved!  May the truth of the resurrection of the church become bound up, in our minds, with all the precious truths of our salvation.

 

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)