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

 

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

 

The Birth of Christ

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

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

The Gentiles come later in Luke.

 

Christ’s Rejection by Israel

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

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

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

 

Christ’s Teaching

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

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

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

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

 

Peter’s Ministry

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

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

 

The Church

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

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

 

Paul’s Ministry

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

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

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

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

 

The Hope of the Church

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

 

The Rapture

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Thessalonians

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

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

 

The Tribulation

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

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

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

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

 

Israel and the Appearing

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

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

 

Conclusion

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

 

 

Summary by Sosthenes

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

Scripture marked ‘Darby’ are from the Darby Translation

April 2016

 

 

 

 

J N Darby – French Letter No. 160 – Consideration of the Church in Hebrews 3

JohnNelsonDarbyPau – 5th April 1857

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother,

Your letter of 8th March has reached me at last. On the subject of Hebrews 3: 1, I understand you perfectly, at least I think I do. There is some truth in what you say[1], but I doubt whether you have taken into consideration all the points of view which the word furnishes to us on this subject.

Firstly, it seems to me that there are some expressions even in the chapter itself which show that the apostle was thinking of persons who, at least as far as their profession went, had accepted Jesus as Lord, acknowledging Him as Messiah and putting their trust in Him. I say this because the apostle speaks of the beginning of their faith, and of what they were to hold firm to the end; also of the fact that we are His house, if at least we hold fast the beginning of our faith and the boast of hope firm to the end[2].

When he makes the comparison with Israel, it is with Israel redeemed, who had entered into the wilderness. See also: chapter 6: 9-10; 4: 14; 6: 18; 10: 22 and the verses following, then verse 34; 13: 8-9, and many other passages, which imply that the position of those whom he was addressing was that of Christians.

Now here, as it seems to me, are the important points of the epistle, which are peculiar to it, and must be taken into account. Christ died for the nation, to sanctify the people by His own blood. Thus all those who recognised Jesus as Messiah were supposed to be sanctified, and supposed at the same time to form part of the people still. On the other hand, being written shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem and the cessation of all relationship between God and the people, the epistle invites the Jews to go forth outside the camp (not forth from the world, but forth from the camp of Israel), and to acknowledge the Christ as rejected by Israel and ascended into heaven, outside of the people. But the fact that he thus invites them to go forth outside the camp, is a proof, is it not, that he is concerned with the remnant, as distinct from the mass, although this remnant had up till then been in relationship with the unbelieving mass and forming part of it?

It seems to me that the epistle to the Hebrews is fundamentally a development of the heavenly character of Christianity (not of the church, which properly speaking we find only in chapter 12), intended, on one hand, to prevent the believing Jews from slipping back again into the old order, and, on the other hand, to prepare the way for this exhortation, so terrible for a Jew, and only found right at the end: that is, to leave the Jewish system and camp. This exhortation is founded on the fact that Christ (according to the type of the perfect sacrifice for sin) had suffered outside the camp as far as the world is concerned, and that His blood had been carried into the sanctuary; that it was necessary to be in heaven, as regards His true position before God, and outside the earthly system down here.

But the fact that the church does not come into the reckoning, except where the whole scene of millennial glory is presented, gives rise to another peculiarity of this epistle: namely, that in the hopes it presents to us and in the prospect of rest and glory which it opens up to us, even while using expressions applicable to heavenly blessedness, it does not go beyond what can be applied to earthly rest. It leaves room for this application of its expressions: ”There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God”. Where?[3] This partly comes back to your way of viewing it. But then suppose in time to come an Israelite should use this epistle in view of that rest of the people of God – an Israelite still attached to his nation after the rapture of the church – he will have to understand that it was only a remnant; that there had been a heavenly hope in which he had no part; that in order to enjoy it definitively, they had had to go outside the camp of Israel, which he himself had not done. That is to say, he will have to be aware that although God has reserved a rest on earth for the remnant of His people (and thus for His people, Romans 9: 7, 27; 11: 26), there had been another rest into which those who had gone outside the camp had entered, which he himself had not done. Now even though it allows a glimpse of an earthly rest for the people, the objective of the epistle is to lay it on the believing Jews, as partakers of the heavenly calling, not to attach themselves to this earthly rest, but to look higher, that is, look to Jesus who has entered in as Forerunner within the veil. The remnant was still in relation with the people, it formed part of them – always a dangerous position, and more than dangerous at the moment when the epistle was written. It acknowledges the fact of what belongs to the people, but it is addressed to the believing part of it, so that this part should no longer form part of the people but should cling to what is its own – the hope that enters within the veil where Jesus has gone in. The sitting of Jesus at the right hand of God was the condemnation of the Jews (compare Acts 7, where He has not yet sat down), and the right to enter the heavenly sanctuary was assured to the sinner as his present and eternal portion.

It is nonetheless true that this position of Jesus is the foundation of all hope for the Jew in the last day, and the apostle leaves this hope subsisting. But it is the hope of the remnant, and he invites this remnant – [which was] at that time in the bosom of the nation – to come out from the midst of it, in virtue of its heavenly calling founded on the fact that Jesus is sitting within, in heaven.

The reasonings on the sacrifices confirm these views, it seems to me. Christ died for the nation, and thus each one of those who acknowledged Him was deemed to have part in Christian privileges without leaving the nation. But in this epistle, though taking this ground, the apostle, it seems to me, addresses those who had acknowledged Him, to invite them to separate themselves from the nation; showing that, whether as regards the sacrifices or as regards the priesthood, another system superior to the old was destined to replace it. I do not say that the replacement of the system is the setting aside of the nation, for Christ died for that nation; but that in fact (the great subject being the replacement of the system) the principle of the new system was a Christ crowned with glory and honour in heaven, and that only those who had attached themselves to Him by faith are found included in the category to which the apostle is speaking. Compare particularly chapter 6 already quoted. This requires patient attention to the contents of the epistle, not in order to profit by the rich resources that it includes, but to do justice to the work for the nation [of Israel], at the same time distinguishing it from the relation formed by faith with Him who, having accomplished this work, had ascended again into heaven. In a word, we must distinguish between what was valid for that nation and the relationship formed by faith. The work and the position are valid for the remnant in the last days, in order that it should enjoy earthly blessings; but the apostle is addressing those who were partakers of the gifts by faith. I do not know if I am making myself understood. I have written this letter in several instalments.

Except for a part of the Revelation, left incomplete last year, our translation[4] will be finished tomorrow, by God’s help, but we shall re-read it.

[1] According to a footnote in the original, Mr B R had stated that Heb 3: 1, and indeed all the epistle, was not addressed only to those of the Hebrews who had faith in Christ, but to the whole body of the people that was then in Judæa.

[2] Heb 3: 14 and 3: 6

[3] ie ‘The question is, Where [will this rest be found]?’

[4] the German translation of the New Testament

 

Note:  This letter was originally published in ‘Baskets of Fragments’

J N Darby – French Letter No. 158 – The Beast

JohnNelsonDarbyHereford – 30th December 1853

To Mr B R

Beloved Brother

… I believe that the beast will put his foot on countries other than those that form his body. I do not believe that Ireland will make up part of the body of the beast. The positive blindness which will weigh and influence England to be spared him, but it will probably be under the judgment which will come on those who live in recklessness on “the isles”. I think that God will use it as testimony, that it is England’s own error which will blind it, and that Ireland will be to a certain degree an oasis, albeit that the yoke of England, which favours Popery governmentally, will weigh on it. It will be a shelter, but I prefer to trust God, whatever it may be, than Ireland or the United States. Nothing will be decided enough, or powerful enough, to make it a counterweight to “the woman riding the beast”, for Russia is outside and has its own way. God will be infallibly enough for all those who confide in him. He makes all things work together for the good of those that love Him.

As to C and H at Lausanne, it is no doubt sad; and I believe that G has in fact troubled the brethren by his way of acting. The sisters noticed this spirit in G and made him feel it. They are right and wrong as to faith. C has, I accept, something to say, and his silence tends to restrict the limits of the good which might be done in Lausanne. On the other hand, as for those who were excluded, I assure you that they do not feel a lot of regret, save for themselves. They are members of Christ, and God keeps from the sin of despising them, but the mixture of spirituality in forms, together with the effort to please the world, and conformity to the world, will be the ruin of the brethren and of the testimony. It is good that dear G has had this humiliation, for he is very thorough and others go as he hears it, but in the long run, if he learnt what God teaches him, God would become outside it and the brethren with him in a condition where they belong to the narrow way, so as to bring them into a broad field of blessing. Dear C, if he had had a little more faith, could have been very useful. In fact, in Lausanne, nobody has confidence in him. Hearts that he wins by his amiability only harm him. I have put before him what I could, but he takes it a bit haughtily. If there was still somebody who exercised an independent ministry there, so that it was not always G alone who acted, the difficulty would disappear, but it is God alone who can send this. In waiting, the brethren have the consciousness of their integrity, and the flesh in G is not fully put to death, and by his character and decision, it is he himself who leads more or less. Co, who does not enjoy the confidence of the brethren, feels his wrongs, and this has been so in the sense that he has been offended without this being intended. The desire to serve the Lord with integrity is found with the brethren, but they have this without the flesh, which always harms, being mortified enough so that it does not become a stumbling block. I hope that they will bring their case enough to God so that, having exercised and humiliated them, He can bless them in spite of their flesh. This is where I was when I left Lausanne. G was not completely happy; I have left the matter to God. It is a matter of the state of all, not of one decision to take, especially since I could not stay there any more. The sisters think that I do not judge things thoroughly; they make a mistake, but I do not have my feelings involved like them. Only I can leave things to God, because I think that at the bottom the brothers seek the glory of God with integrity. I bear with the malcontents more than the brethren would like, perhaps, for in accepting the grievances of the brethren as to them, and there is a lot of this, I think that their flesh partly gave opportunity to this discontent, and that they can never justify the flesh. But I have confidence in God.

As to brother H, my relations with him are good, and I leave it there. I do not believe that he has enough faith to be a testimony under certain conditions. The old dissidents have their character in them. In the way of faith, they have been recognised, as God always does. The world has deceived them.

I am unable to walk, having sprained my right foot, but God, in His great goodness, has given me to profit much from my time with the Word.

Yours very affectionately

The Present Hope of the Church

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

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

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

The Present Hope of the Church – Summary by Sosthenes

new-jerusalem-2s

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

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

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

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

Summary of Lectures

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

The Christian’s Assurance as to Prophecy

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Sceptic as to Prophecy

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

Communion with God as to Prophecy

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

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

 

 

A Brief Outline of the Books of the Bible – The Revelation

he Book of Revelation presents the return of the Holy Spirit’s witness to God’s relationship with the earth. At first we have the church, as an earthly witness, but then the saints of the heavenly calling are seen only in heaven. It sets the stage for the return of God’s First-Begotten to the world. Then we have a prophetic view of God’s judgments, the book introducing the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself to execute judgment and to set up the kingdom which shall never be removed. He is accompanied by the heavenly saints.

lay-preaching

The Book of Revelation presents the return of the Holy Spirit’s witness to God’s relationship with the earth. At first we have the church, as an earthly witness, but then the saints of the heavenly calling are seen only in heaven. It sets the stage for the return of God’s First-Begotten to the world. Then we have a prophetic view of God’s judgments, the book introducing the King of kings and Lord of lords Himself to execute judgment and to set up the kingdom which shall never be removed. He is accompanied by the heavenly saints.

At the beginning and end, we have the thoughts and feelings of the saints:

  • The first refers to the cross, and its bearing on the saints, looking back at their own part in that which laid the foundation of Christ’s title. This brought judgment on the world.
  • At the end we have the saints’ own portion with Christ Himself. They look forward to His glory. Meanwhile they are conscious of it and its present fruit.

Ch. 1 presents God as supreme and eternal. We have the Holy Spirit in His attributes of divine administration, and Christ in His glory as connected with the earth. He is coming. He calls John’s attention to His glory on earth, not in service but in judgment. He walks in the midst of the candlesticks, the place of light in the world, judging the state of the churches. We find a divine person, the Son of man having subordinate representative authority in His hand: the stars and the angels of the churches. These are the things that were seen.

Next we have ‘the things that are’. We get:

  • Ephesus – departure from first love.
  • Smyrna – persecution
  • Pergamos – the world its dwelling-place
  • Thyatira and Sardis – false teachers seducing the saints; their corruption settled there, and the saints thus to wait for Christ’s coming, who is given to them in His own heavenly unseen associations, and the visible kingdom too.
  • Philadelphia – a little power
  • Laodicea – spued out of His mouth

In the four first churches it is a question of personal fidelity od that church to Christ. Christ is walking amidst the candlesticks. In the last three, the stars are not said to be in His hand; they all refer with warnings or promises to the coming of the Lord.

The vision then switches to heaven. The world’s judgment flows from there, and the saints are viewed as enthroned and crowned there. God’s throne of judgment is set up in heaven, and the ministers of His government proclaim His glory, while the saints worship.

Ch. 4-5: The Lamb appears; His glory is celebrated. Heaven owns His title to open the book of God’s ways, and the angels stand around the inner circle of those connected with the throne (24 elders, 4 living creatures). The elders give their reasons for worship. The Lamb now opens the book.

Ch. 6: The providential history of God’s dealings in the Western Roman earth is presented. We see the martyrs who cry for judgment. There is a universal subversion of the subsisting powers, so that men are alarmed as if the day of the Lord were come.

Ch. 7: The remnant of Israel is marked out for preservation; the multitude of the Gentiles to be spared are owned.

Ch. 8: The first four trumpets are the specific judgments on earthly prosperity and the power of the Western Roman Empire.

Ch. 9-11: The next two judgments are on the men of the East. Then we get a parenthesis: the great Western beast. A testimony is given, which comes to a close before the end of the period of the second woe. At last we have the seventh trumpet, which closes the whole scene.

Ch. 12: A new vision of special dealings is now opened, more connected with the religious condition of men. The Jewish people are seen, as heaven sees them, in the counsels and purposes of God. So a Son is to be born, Christ, who is to rule all nations with a rod of iron. The whole church is united to Him. But this is taken to heaven and God’s throne, out of the way of the dragon. The woman – the Jewish people in the latter day in distress – flees from three and a half years’ persecution into the wilderness. There is war in heaven. Satan is cast down, having great rage, knowing that his time is short. His career in heaven is ended. He can no longer accuse the saints on the earth, but he persecutes the Jews. They flee, so he turns to persecute the witnesses amongst them.

Ch. 13: Next, we see the earthly agents: the beast, with seven heads and ten horns, who receives his power from Satan for 1260 days. He blasphemes what is heavenly, and persecutes the saints. Then a second beast, in the prophetic and royal character of a messiah, exercises his power, making the world worship him. He does miracles, and gives breath to the image which he has caused to be made.

Ch. 14: We now have the remnant who suffer like Christ. We also have the testimony, judgments and warnings of God. Finally, we have the judgment of the earth, and the destruction of the wicked by the Son of man.

Ch. 15: Another great sign follows, not necessarily at the same time or immediately after it. It reaches down to the the throne of the beast. The saints, who pass through the time of tribulation, are viewed as at rest. The sea of glass is mingled with fire.

Ch. 16: The vials are poured out. They are on the earth, and particularly strike the beast’s kingdom, and those who dwell in it. Then all the kings of the earth gather themselves together. The smiting does not correct them, but galls their pride. Finally, the last judgment of God is executed even on Babylon, the beast remaining to be defeated by the Lamb.

Ch. 17-18: We have a description of what the woman is: how she rides the horned beast, corrupting all nations. The Lamb overcomes both of them. Babylon is Rome.

Ch. 19: After Babylon is judged, the marriage of the Lamb takes place. He comes forth out of His heavenly seclusion, as King of kings and Lord of lords, to be revealed in the earth. As he comes out as the word of God in judgment, the saints, witnessed in righteousness in the fruit of their works, accompany Him. The beast and the false prophet (the second beast), are taken and cast to their final doom, their royal character having disappeared. The rest are slain. This is the judgment of power and war.

Note that the rapture of the church belongs to the church revelation, so it could not come into the Book of Revelation. However, we see the saints in heaven.

Ch. 20: Then Satan is bound, and shut up in the abyss for a thousand years. Sessional judgment follows. All the heavenly saints are on thrones, for this is royal judgment, and judgment is given to them – this is the first resurrection. After that we have the second resurrection, in which the dead are to be judged and condemned.

Ch. 21:1-8: Heaven and earth flee away; death and hades give up all. God is all in all in a new heavens and new earth.

Ch. 21:9-22:5: The Spirit returns to give a description of the heavenly Jerusalem during the millennium (as He had of Babylon and its relationship to the earth).

Ch. 22:6-21: After warnings to those who are in the time of the book, Christ comes forward Himself as the One who had given the revelation. This draws out in the bride, with whom is the Spirit, to express the desire of His coming. Expressed is her position – towards Christ, towards those who hear the word, and towards sinner. John seals the book with his own desires those of the church, ‘Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The re-introduction of God’s government into this world in Christ, in this book, and the discovery of the heavenly position of the church, is full of interest and doctrine. Meanwhile judgment of the world and its course, is confided to the church which closes the book both historically and doctrinally, the church herself being above the world.

This closes the canon of scripture.

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  October 2014

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

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

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

Outline of Bible cover1 Thessalonians

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

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

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

2 Thessalonians

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

 

Originally by JND.   Lightly edited by Sosthenes,  September 2014

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

John Nelson Darby – The Saints’ Rest – Rest of the saints above, Jerusalem of God

REST of the saints above,
Jerusalem of God,
Who in thy palaces of love,
Thy golden streets have trod

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

REST of the saints above

by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

S.M.D.

sung to Diademata midi score
by G. J. Elvey (1816-1893)
(S.M.D. – or mostly S.M.)

1 REST of the saints above,
Jerusalem of God,
Who in thy palaces of love,
Thy golden streets have trod,
To me thy joy to tell —
Those courts secure from ill,
Where God Himself vouchsafes to dwell,
And every bosom fill?2 Who shall to me that joy
Of saint-thronged courts declare,
Tell of that constant sweet employ
My spirit longs to share?
That rest secure from ill,
No cloud of grief e’er stains;
Unfailing praise each heart doth fill,
And love eternal reigns.3 The Lamb is there, my soul;
There, God Himself doth rest,
In love divine diffused through all
With Him supremely blest.
God and the Lamb — ’tis well,
I know that source divine,
Of joy and love no tongue can tell,
Yet know that all is mine.4 And see, the Spirit’s power
Has ope’d the heavenly door,
Has brought me to that favoured hour
When toil shall all be o’er.
There on the hidden bread
Of Christ — once humbled here —
God’s treasured store — for ever fed,
His love my soul shall cheer.

5 Called by that secret name
Of undisclosed delight,
(Blest answer to reproach and shame)
Graved on the stone of white.
There in effulgence bright,
Saviour and Guide, with Thee
I’ll walk, and in Thy heavenly light
Whiter my robe shall be.

6 There in the unsullied way
Which His own hand hath dressed,
My feet press on where brightest day
Shines forth on all the rest.
But who that glorious blaze
Of living light shall tell,
Where all His brightness God displays,
And the Lamb’s glories dwell?

7 (There only to adore,
My soul its strength may find,
Its life, its joy for evermore,
By sight, nor sense, defined.)
God and the Lamb shall there
The light and temple be,
And radiant hosts for ever share
The unveiled mystery.

The above has been split into two hymns in Hymns for the  Little Flock 1962 and 1973 – Nos 74 and 79

J N Darby – The Call – What powerful, mighty Voice, so near, Calls me from Earth apart

Blest Lord, Thou speak’st! ‘Twas erst Thy voice
That led my heart to Thee;
That drew me to that better choice
Where grace has set me free.

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

WHAT powerful, mighty Voice, so near,
Calls me from earth apart –
Reaches, with tones so still, so clear,
From th’unseen world, my heart?

‘Tis solemn, yet it draws with power
And sweetness yet unknown;
It speaks the language of an hour
When earth’s for ever gone.

It soothes, yet solemnizes all;
What yet of nature is
Lies silent, through the heavenly call;
No earthly voice like this!

‘Tis His. Yes, yes; no other sound
Could move my heart like this;
The voice of Him that earlier bound
Through grace that heart to His –

In other accents now, ’tis true,
Than once my spirit woke,
To life and peace, through which it grew
Under His gracious yoke.

Blest Lord, Thou speak’st! ‘Twas erst Thy voice
That led my heart to Thee;
That drew me to that better choice
Where grace has set me free.

Then would’st Thou that I should rejoice,
And walk by faith below;
Enough, that I had heard Thy voice,
And learnt Thy love’s deep woe –

Thy glory, Lord. This living waste
Thenceforth no rest could give;
My path was on with earnest haste,
Lord, in Thy rest to live.

Yes, then ’twas faith – Thy word; but now
Thyself my soul draw’st nigh,
My soul with nearer thoughts to bow
Of brighter worlds on high.

And oh! how all that eye can see
To others now belongs!
The eternal home’s so nigh to me –
My soul’s eternal songs.

For Thou art near; Thou call’st me now
In love I long have known,
While waiting on Thy will below,
Till Thou my hopes should’st crown.

And Thou would’st have me soon with Thee;
Thou, Lord, my portion art;
Thou hast revealed Thyself to me –
Thy nature to my heart.

My happiness, O Lord, with Thee
Is long laid up in store,
For that bless’d day when Thee I’d see,
And conflict all be o’er.

Yes, love divine – in Thee I know;
The Father’s glories soon
Shall burst upon my ravished view –
Thyself my eternal crown!

Thou mak’st me brighter hopes to prove,
Because Thou nearer art;
With secrets of eternal love
Thou fill’st my longing heart.

How shall I leave Thee, Lord? This joy
Is from Thyself; it is
My brightest hope without alloy,
My pure, eternal bliss.

With Thee, O Lord, I all things have –
Unclouded joy divine
In Thee, who first these “all things” gave
For ever to be mine.

Yet I will wait, in labour still
In Thy blest service here;
What Thou hast given me to fulfil –
Thy will – to me is dear.

“It is my meat to do the will of Him I serve; and I am glad to know it, because it is His – glad He has deigned to communicate it to me – glad to have it perfect as He gives it.” J.N.D.

 

I well can wait! Thou waitest yet
The word of that dread hour,
Which shall Thy foes for ever set
As footstool of Thy power.

Yet, Lord, were once Thy will fulfilled,
How better far with Thee,
With Thee, my joy, my strength, my shield,
In cloudless light to be.

O endless joy! how shall my heart
Thy riches all unfold,
Or tell the grace that gave me part
In bliss no tongue hath told?

 

The following verse is on JND’s gravestone in Bournemouth Cemetery – ed.

Lord, let me wait for Thee alone;
My life be only this –
To serve Thee here on earth, unknown;
Then share Thy heavenly bliss.

Lord, be it soon! Thou know’st our heart,
In this sad world, no rest
Can find nor wish but where Thou art –
That rest itself possessed!

Soon shall we see Thee as Thou art,
O hope for ever blessed!
Thou’lt call us, in our heavenly part –
The Father’s house – to rest.

O rest ineffable, divine,
The rest of God above,
Where Thou for ever shalt be mine;
My joy, eternal love!

His counsels, all, fulfilled in Thee;
His work of love complete;
And heavenly hosts shall rest, to see
Earth blest beneath Thy feet!

 

This poem forms the base of two hymns in the Little Flock Hymn Book

J N Darby – Little Flock No 47 – Blest Lord, Thou spakest! ’twas Thy voice

J N Darby – Little Flock No 411 – Lord! let us wait for Thee alone

‘Tis not far off-the Hour, When Christ will claim His own

 S.M.
1 ‘Tis not far off-the hour
When Christ will claim His own;
We soon shall hear that voice of power;
The Lord Himself shall come!
2 The days are passing by,
The years flow on apace;
Lord Jesus, Thy return draws nigh,
We long to see Thy face.
3 Eternal in the heav’ns
Is our prepared abode –
Radiant and pure in light divine,
The building of our God.
4 Then rest, divinely sweet,
Our pilgrim feet shall know;
And through that blest eternity
What tides of praise shall flow!
5 In patience, Lord, we wait
For Thee to take us home;
Fulfil to us Thy gracious word.
Amen, Lord Jesus, Come!

Hannah Burlingham (1842-1901) – Little Flock No 165

J N Darby – Expectation – Lord Jesus! source of every grace

1 LORD Jesus! source of every grace,
Glorious in light divine,
Soon shall we see Thee face to face,
And in that glory shine,

J N Darby
John Nelson Darby

C.M.

1 LORD Jesus! source of every grace,
Glorious in light divine,
Soon shall we see Thee face to face,
And in that glory shine,

2 Be ever with Thee, hear Thy voice,
Unhindered then shall taste
The love which doth our hearts rejoice,
Though absent in this waste.

3 In peaceful wonder we adore
The thoughts of love divine,
Which in that world, for evermore,
Unite our lot with Thine.

by John Nelson Darby (1800-1882)

sung to Orlington by J. Campbell (1807-1860)

Published in Hymns for the Little Flock 1962, 1973 No 114