The Seven Churches of Revelation

Matthew McGee

Rightly dividing the Word is the goal of this article, and it is an indispensable key to proper understanding of the Bible.  The abundance of scriptural evidence detailed in Section III of this article makes it very clear that the book of Revelation is doctrine for the nation of Israel, the descendants of Jacob.  Revelation was written to those in Israel who believed in Jesus Christ, by an apostle of the circumcision, for direct application in the “kingdom” dispensation which was prophesied in the Old Testament.  This article is divided into three major sections:

Introduction A summary of the findings in this document Section I: Historical Evidence for Dating the Book of Revelation Section II: A Theory to Consider:  Jews were Scattered into Asia during the 60′s Section III: Scriptural Evidence that Revelation was written to Assemblies of Jews Conclusion Appendix: The KJV Text of Revelation Chapters 1-3  Read study here

Rapture of the Church

Grace Bible Church
Written By Robert McLaughlin

posted by dtbrents

The Rapture of the Church is basically held by two schools of theology: The pre-tribulational view, and the post-tribulational view. Neither the millennial nor the postmillennial views of theology believe in the concept of the Rapture. Instead, their position is basically promoted through the Kingdom now theology, which adheres to the notion that the Church will usher in a world peace.

Post-tribulational theology believes that the Church will go through the great tribula­tion, and then be removed or raptured, and then will return with Jesus Christ to reign in the Millennial. Most covenant schools of theology believe in this position.

Pre-tribulational rapture theology, believes that Christ will remove His church before the great tribulation. After that, the Church will return with Christ at the Second coming to establish the Millennial reign of Christ!

So, we must begin this subject with some prophecy concerning the future of planet earth. There is a time coming on this earth which is called “Satan’s time of desperation.” It is a period of the greatest power struggle in all of human history. It involves not only people, but angelic creatures as well. It is not a time that you would want any of your family members, friends, neighbors, and if you truly understood it, even your enemies to have to go through. It is a great period of wrath on this earth, both from God and from Satan, ZEP 1:14-18, “Near is the great day of the Lord, Near and coming very quickly; Listen, the day of the Lord! In it the warrior cries out bitterly. A day of wrath is that day, A day of trouble and distress, A day of destruction and desolation, A day of darkness and gloom, A day of clouds and thick darkness, A day of trumpet and battle cry, Against the fortified cities And the high corner towers. And I will bring distress on men, So that they will walk like the blind, because they have sinned against the Lord; and their blood will be poured out like dust, And their flesh like dung. Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to deliver them on the day of the Lord’s wrath; and all the earth will be devoured in the fire of His jealousy, for He will make a complete end, indeed a terrifying one, of all the inhabitants of the earth.”

REV 6:16-17 tells us that it is a time of great judgment on the earth like never before, and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?” It is said to be a great time of indignation (ISA 26:20-21). It is called the hour of testing in REV 3:10. A time of great destruction in Joel 1:15, “Alas for the day! For the day of the Lord is near, And it will come as destruction from the Almighty.” It is a time of darkness in Joel 2:2. The book of Daniel calls it a time of desolation (DAN 9:27). Isaiah calls it a time of punishment (ISA 24:20-21). It is a very difficult time to be alive, and it is called the Tribulation period! The wrath of God will be poured out upon the world during this time, and according to the Word of God, it is a time that could take place on this earth tomorrow. This is because of the immanency of the Rapture!

The nature of the Tribulation is also one of practical importance. If the Church is destined to endure the persecutions of the Tribulation, it is hopeless to proclaim the coming of the Lord as an imminent hope. Instead, it should be recognized that Christ cannot come until these predicted sorrows have been accomplished. On the other hand, if Christ will come for His church before the predicted time of trouble, Christians can regard His coming as an imminent daily expectation and hope. So, there is a theological event known as the Rapture, and the Church, the body of Christ, will not go through this period. This is because the Rapture is used in a technical theological sense for the resurrection of the Royal Family of God. Since the Church or Royal Family of God is the first spiritual building to be completed, it is resurrected after our Lord. It is the second phase of the first resurrection following the resurrection of Christ. So the Rapture or the resurrection of the Church is God’s means of terminating the Church-age and delivering us from the wrath to come. 1TH 1:9-10, For they themselves report about us what kind of a reception we had with you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. This is why TIT 2:13 puts the Rapture or the appearing of the Lord Jesus Christ like this, “looking for the blessed hope [makarios elpis - happy guarantee] and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;”

You should know the Rapture is coming. It may or may not occur in your lifetime, but you still know its coming. In this way you apply doctrine, you are occupied with the person of Jesus Christ, you utilize +H (the happiness of God), you operate in virtue‑love, so that you have a wonderful life and a wonderful death. All believers can have confidence, hope and a guarantee with regard to the Rapture, it is a happy guarantee, or a doctrine which produces confidence. The confidence is the fact that we have been delivered from the wrath to come! The Rapture or the resurrection of the Church is totally beyond our control, because resurrection is the Lord’s victory. 1CO 15:57 “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

So, the Church-age terminates with the transferring of the Church into the Lord’s presence.

The promise of the Rapture is found in JOH 14:1‑3, “Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also.”

2TH 2:1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him.

Because the Church and Israel are two distinct groups with whom God has a Divine plan, one has to be taken away while the other is dealt with. 1TH 5:9 says “For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” Therefore, the distinction between the Rapture and the Second Advent must be noted. Another very important point concerning the Rapture of the Church, and the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ will remove the Church from this world when that terrible Tribulational period comes, is found under the principle of mystery doctrine. For example, we have noted many times those passages in the New Testament such as EPH 3:1-6; COL 1:25-27; ROM 16:25-26, which all make it crystal clear that the Church was a mystery and was not known in the Old Testament.

The Church, therefore, could not have been in view in the Old Testament prophecy concerning the Tribulational period which is to come upon the whole earth. There can be no question that this period will see the wrath of God poured out upon the whole earth. REV 3:10; ISA 34:2; 24:1,4-5, 16-21 and, many other passages make it very clear as well. JER 30:7 says this period is called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” and Jacob refers to Israel. In DAN 9:24, God says 70 weeks are determined upon thy people (this is the Jews not the Church). DAN 9:24 Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression.

So, this whole Tribulational period has special reference to Daniel’s people Israel and Daniel’s Holy city, Jerusalem. In the Old Testament, the seventy weeks of prophecy are weeks of years. In GEN 29:26-27, and DAN 9:24, one week is equivalent to 7 years. So, 70 times 7 equals 490! God owes Israel seven years! They have had 69 weeks already, that equals 483 years.

Therefore, the Church has nothing to do with this prophecy since the Church did not have its existence until after the death of Christ (EPH 5:25-26), after the resurrection of Christ (ROM 4:25; COL 3:1-3), and after the ascension of Christ (EPH 1:19-20). Therefore, the Church could not have been in the first 69 weeks of this prophecy. So, since the Church had no part in the first 69 weeks which are related only to God’s program for Israel, then it can have no part in the 70th week which is again related to God’s program for Israel.

So, the Rapture is the blessed hope or the happy guarantee that God is going to take us out from the wrath to come. 1TH 4:13 “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.” Please notice the Rapture removes sorrow and grief and gives hope! REV 2:22 indicates clearly that the unsaved professing church will experience the tribulational period, REV 2:18-22, “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write:  The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first. But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond‑servants astray, so that they commit acts of immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. And I gave her time to repent; and she does not want to repent of her immorality. Behold, I will cast her upon a bed of sickness, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds. And I will kill her children with pestilence; and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.’” Remember, the professing church is composed of those who make a profession of faith in Christ. Unfortunately, it’s another Jesus (2CO 11:4), another spirit (2CO 11:4), another Gospel (GAL 1:6), and another doctrine (1TI 4:1).

The true Church will not, in fact cannot go through the Tribulation period. Therefore the Church must be taken out from the earth which is what we call the Rapture. In fact, REV 3:10 also describes this principle, “Because you have kept the word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from [or take you out from] the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.

Rev 13 makes it clear that all who are in the 70th week, or the Tribulation period, are brought into subjection to the beast and through him to Satan who gives the beast power. REV 13:1-9, “And he stood on the sand of the seashore. And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names. And the beast which I saw was like a leopard, and his feet were like those of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. And the dragon gave him his power and his throne and great authority. And I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast; and they worshiped the dragon, because he gave his authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘who is like the beast, and who is able to wage war with him?’ And there was given to him a mouth speaking arrogant words and blasphemies; and authority to act for forty‑two months[three and one half years] was given to him. And he opened his mouth in blasphemies against God, to blaspheme his name and his tabernacle, that is, those who dwell in Heaven. And it was given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them; and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the lamb who has been slain. if anyone has an ear, let him hear.”

Now, if the church were in this period she would be subjected to Satan and Christ would either lose His place as head, or because of His union with the Church, He would be also subjected to Satan’s authority. Such a thing is unthinkable and blasphemous! PHI 2:9-10, Therefore also the God has highly exalted Him to the maximum, and bestowed on Him the name or rank which is above every name, in order that at the title of Jesus every knee of the Heavens should bow [that's the big Genuflex], and on earth [believers who are alive at the Rapture], and the ones under the earth [unbelievers],

So the order of events which will take place needs to be noted: 1) The Rapture. 2) The Big Genuflex. 3) The Judgment Seat of Christ. 4) The Second Coming.

Point 1 is our definition.

While the Rapture is defined as the act of being transported, it is also defined as the state of being rapt or carried out of oneself. However, Rapture is used here in a technical theological sense for the resurrection of the Royal Family of God. Since the Church or Royal Family of God is the first spiritual building to be completed, it is resurrected after our Lord. It is the second phase of the first resurrection following the resurrection of Christ. Christ is resurrected, ascended, and seated at the right hand of the Father as part of the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. This is known as our Lord’s battlefield royalty. This is His only royalty with no family.  Therefore, God interrupted the Jewish Age with the Church Age to call out and provide a Royal Family of God. Once the Royal Family is completed, the Church is resurrected as the body of Christ to become the bride of Christ. The Church Age is that period of human history when the Royal Family of God is being formed on earth (EPH 1:22-23; EPH 2:16; EPH 4:4-5; COL 1:18; COL 1:24; COL 2:19). When the Royal Family of God is completed, the Rapture occurs (1TH 4:16-18; 1CO 15:51-58). During the conclusion of the Jewish Age, the bride is prepared in Heaven by receiving a resurrection body. Then comes the Big Genuflex and acknowledgment of Christ (PHI 2:9-11, ROM 14:11). ROM 14:11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall give praise to God.” Then comes the Judgment Seat of Christ, when all Church-age believers are evaluated and rewarded, 2CO 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.

The nature of the Tribulation is also one of practical importance. If the Church is destined to endure the persecutions of the Tribulation, it is hopeless to proclaim the coming of the Lord as an imminent hope. Instead, it should be recognized that Christ cannot come until these predicted sorrows have been accomplished. On the other hand, if Christ will come for His church before the predicted time of trouble, Christians can regard His coming as an imminent daily expectation. So, because of a theological event known as the Rapture, the Church, the body of Christ will not go through this period.

Point 2. Biblical principles that establish the Bi­blical position of a pre-tribulational Rapture of the Church.

1. The great Tribulation is punishment for a Christ-rejecting world, and the nation of Israel, who rejected her Messiah, REV 6:12-17, “And I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. And the sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come; and who is able to stand?’”

2. The nature of the Church, and the promises of Christ forbid the Church from going thro­ugh the great Tribulation. For example, the nature of the Church, COL 1:22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach. The promise of Christ, HEB 13:5 for He Himself has said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you,”

3. There must be an interval of time between the Rapture and the Second Coming. This is when the Judgment Seat of Christ takes place and believers either receive rewards or lose rewards (1CO 3:11-15, 2CO 5:10).

4. The scripture’s which deal with the great Tribulation have particular reference to the Jew. MAT 24:1-2, And Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He answered and said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here shall be left upon another, which will not be torn down.” He’s talking about a Jewish temple not a Christian church.

MAT 24:3-9, And as He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what {will be} the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. And you will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars; see that you are not frightened, for {those things} must take place, but {that} is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are {merely} the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations on account of My name.” This is a reference to the Jewish nation. In MAT 24:15 we read, “Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand),”

The abomination of desolation has to do with Jerusalem and the Temple, DAN 11:31 And forces from him will arise, desecrate the sanctuary fortress, and do away with the regular sacrifice. And they will set up the abomination of desolation.

Look at MAT 24:20 “But pray that your flight may not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath;” Why does it say the Sabbath? Because we are talking to the Jews not to Christians! The Sabbath is for the Jews only (EXO 31:16).

MAT 24:21-22, “for then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever shall. And unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days shall be cut short.”

In MAT 24:29-32, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers of the Heavens will be shaken, and then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory. And He will send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other. Now learn the parable from the fig tree [Israel]: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near;

Who is the fig tree?

In LUK 13:6 the fig tree represents the nation of Israel, And He {began} telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any.”

So in MAT 24:33-34, “even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, {right} at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

In MAT 24:37-42, “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, they were marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so shall the coming of the Son of Man be. Then there shall be two men in the field; one will be taken, and one will be left. Two women {will be} grinding at the mill; one will be taken, and one will be left. Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming.” Notice that the Sabbath is used (MAT 24:20). Jerusalem is trodden under (LUK 21:24). Kingdom of God is near and at hand (MAT 24:14). The Church is never mentioned; the Temple is implied; and the abomination of desolation is denoted.

5. The Tribulation is mentioned as a gross time of darkness, evil, and sin, where none have faith (ISA 60:2; JER 13:16; LUK 18:8).

6. Satan persecutes the women (Israel) in the Tribulation.  The Church is not to come under condemnation (REV 12:1-4; ROM 5:9; ROM 8:1; 1TH 1:10; 1TH 5:9; 1CO 15:55-57; 1TH 4:13-18).

7. The Church is not of the world (JOH 17:14; PHI 3:20; 2TI 2:3-4). The Church is a spirit­ual extension of the Lord Jesus Christ, with promises that are Heavenly related (EPH 1:3; EPH 2:6).

8. Christ is preparing a home for His body the Church, and has promised to return and to take His bride back with Him, JOH 14:3 “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you to Myself; that where I am, {there} you may be also.”

9. The Church has been promised deliverance from the wrath to come (ROM 5:9; 1TH 1:10; 1TH 5:9; REV 3:10). 1TH 1:10 and to wait for His Son from Heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who delivers us from the wrath to come. In 1TH 5:9 For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

10. The believer is told to watch, or have an attitude of anticipation for the Lord’s coming. If believers are to go through the great Tribulation, they would be advised to watch for the signs of the prophecies of the coming of Jacob’s trouble (ROM 8:23; 1CO 1:7; GAL 5:5; TIT 2:11-13). Why would we, in ROM 8:23, groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body? Or in 1CO 1:7 await eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ? Or in TIT 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus;

11. God has always protected His people in unique fashion in the face of judgment like Enoch before the flood (2PE 2:6-8). Lot from Sodom and Gomorrah.

12. The instructions by the apostle Paul never include any preparation or warning that the Church will encounter the great Tribulation.

13. If the Church goes through the Tribulation then the Jews as well as the Gentiles of the Tribulation period would become part of the Church. After the Tribulation the Jew­ish remnant would go into the promised earthly Millennial reign; but the Gentiles of the Church would be caught up to be with Christ in glory. The body of Christ would become dismembered.

14. The church at Thessalonica would not be concerned of any disadvantage of the dead in Christ if those who were alive had to go through the great Tribulation (1TH 1:4).

15. The message of the Church is the message of the Gospel of grace and peace which was se­cured at the Cross by Jesus the Christ (EPH 2:8-10). The message of the great Tribula­tion is one of God’s judgment (REV 7:4-8; REV 12:17; REV 19:10; MAT 24:14).

16. The iniquity of the anti-Christ cannot be released until the Holy Spirit, the restrainer is removed with the Church in 2TH 2:3-10 (mystery of lawlessness). 2TH 2:3-10, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so‑called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved.”

17. The Church is called to pray for those in authority (1TI 2:2); if the Church was on earth in the great Tribulation why would those who come through the great Tribulation pray for the de­struction of those in authority? (REV 6:10).

18. Christ’s return for His church is unconditional, and He returns to Heaven (JOH 14:1-3). The great Tribulation is conditional, and based upon the abomination of desolation (MAT 24:15-16).

19.  Christ returns for His bride in the air and does not touch down upon the earth at the Rapture. He then returns to Heaven (JOH 14:1-3); and at the Second Coming He comes down to the earth.

20. The Bema Seat Judgment takes place after the Rapture. All believers will be judged according to their works, whether wood hay or straw, or gold, silver, and precious stones. This represents the Divine production in the Spirit or in the flesh (1CO 3:12-15).

21. Time is needed for the Bema Seat, and the marriage of the Lamb, and His pure bride dressed in white, the Church. The seven years of the great tribulation provides for this time.

22. The Rapture is a mystery and secret, the Second Coming is a world display of power. 1CO 15:51-58, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?’ The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.”

23. The Rapture comes at a time of false peace and safety through the promise of the anti-Christ. 1TH 5:2-3, “For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, ‘Peace and safety!’ then destruction will come upon them suddenly like birth pangs upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”

24. After the Rapture (Rev 4) the day of the Lord begins with the opening of the first seal (Rev 5).

25. The Church is never mentioned after Revelation 4.

26. The 144,00 Jews from Twelve Tribes; the two prophet’s probably Elijah and Moses and the angel witness the Gospel (REV 11:3). The Church is never mentioned as fulfilling its great commission during the great Tribulation.

So the hope of the Church is the return of Christ at the Rapture, who will deliver them from the greatest outpouring of judgment in history (TIT 2:11-13; 1TH 1:10; 1TH 4:18; 1TH 5:11). The true Church will not, and cannot, go through the Tribulation period which is coming upon this earth and therefore the Church must be taken out from the earth which is what we call the rapture. In fact REV 3:10 also describes this principle, REV 3:10 “Because you have kept the word of my perseverance, I also will keep you from [or take you out from] the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell upon the earth.”

If the Church is in the Seventieth Week or the Tribulational Period, she is subjected to the wrath, judgment, and indignation which characterizes the period, and because of her oneness with Christ, He, likewise would be subjected to the same. Rev 13 makes it clear that all who are in the 70th week or the Tribulation period are brought into subjection to the beast, and through him to Satan who gives the beast power. If the Church were in this period it would be subjected to Satan and Christ would either lose His place as head or because of His union with the Church, He would be also subjected to Satan’s authority. Such a thing is unthinkable and blasphemous!

Point 3. The imminence of the Rapture.

Many signs were given to the nation Israel which would precede the Second Coming which is a totally different event then the Rapture. This is so the nation would be living in expectancy when the time of His coming should draw near. Although Israel could not know the day nor the hour, they could know through these signs that their redemption is drawing near. To the Church however, no such signs were given. The Church is told to live in the light of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ (JOH 14:2-3; Acts 1:11; 1CO 15:51-52; PHI 3:20; COL 3:4; 1TH 1:10; 1TI 6:14; JAM 5:8; 2PE 3:3-4).

ACT 1:6-11, And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” And after He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into Heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into Heaven. For our citizenship is in Heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;”

PHI 3:21 “who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.”

Passages like 1TH 5:6; TIT 2:13; REV 3:3, all warn the believer to be watching for the Lord Himself. Not for signs that would precede His coming. So, if there was no Rapture of the Church, the many signs given to Israel would also be given to the Church! The multitude of signs given to Israel to stir them to expectancy would then also be for the Church and the Church could not be looking for Christ until these signs had been fulfilled. We would be looking for world wars, famines, pestilences, and earth­quakes in several places at the same time. MAT 24:7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.” We would be looking for the re-gathering of Israel (Ezekiel 36-37). The Rise of Russia and her allies in preparation of fulfilling Eze 38-39. The increase in travel and knowledge. DAN 12:4 “But as for you, Daniel, conceal these words and seal up the book until the end of time; many will go back and forth, and knowledge will increase.”

Although many of these things are upon us they seem to be the signs of the last days, the Church is not told to look for these signs. The labor conflicts (JAM 5:1-6). This is said to be the historical trends of the last days. Scoffers (2PE 3:1-2), this is a sign of the last days. Scoffers dominate the most influential agencies of all coun­tries today, even our own. They control media, entertainment, education, and, for the most part, government. They are willfully ignorant and walk after their own lusts, as predicted. The moral breakdown in Society (2TI 3:1-5), the trends of moral breakdown during the last days are read almost every day in the newspapers. A Rise in Lawlessness (2TH 2:7-10). A Rise in Occultism and Cults (1TI 4:1-5). There have always been cults and demon activity, but nothing in modem history is like today, and it is increasing. Apostasy (1TI 4:1). The liberalism and legalism of doctrine that is around today is deceiving millions of believers.

The Church is to live in the imminence of the Rapture. Imminence means impending, or threatening to occur immediately. Imminence is used technically for the fact that no prophecy has to be fulfilled before the Rapture occurs. The rapture will occur when the last member of the body of Christ is saved. So, this is why the Church-age is the only dispensation in which there are historical trends and no prophecy. The Church-age began with an event that was prophesied: The baptism of the Spirit. Our Lord prophesied this in the upper room discourse just before He ascended. The Church-age terminates with the Rapture, which was also prophesied, and there is no prophecy between these two events. This is the age of the mystery doctrine. No prophecy between the baptism of the Spirit and the Rapture means that the Rapture is imminent. It could occur at any time. No one knows the day or the hour. The resurrection of the Church, like our dying, is completely out of our control. Before the Second Advent occurs, there are many prophecies which must occur, the Rapture, the events of the Tribulation. However, the Rapture could have occurred at the time of James or Paul because no prophecy had to be fulfilled before the resurrection occurs.

Distortion of the imminence of the Rapture results in instability and foolish explanation or speculation about the time of the Rapture; hence, James gives us an admonition in JAM 5:7‑8, “Be patient, therefore, brethren, until the coming of the Lord [the Rapture]. Behold, the farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

To have patience means to apply what you know. Patience is a system of thinking Bible doctrine, a system of concentration, the application of doctrine to experience. You can, by positive volition, execute the PPOG or, by negative volition, be a cosmic believer, and be your own worst enemy. In this passage, the farmer invests by sowing seed, he must break up the soil and sow the seed, and then he must wait. There’s nothing he can do while waiting, the seed will either come up or it won’t. Either he will have production or he will not. In the time of this writing, that depended upon the soil and the rains. The farmer did not have control over those elements. You cannot have patience without a stabilized mentality. Every day in the Church-age, the Rapture draws closer. Every day that the Rapture approaches, you still have control over your life as long as you live. You have control in the sense that you can be a winner believer or a loser believer.

In fact, because there is no unfulfilled prophecy before the Rapture could occur, the early Church anticipated the Rapture under the concept of imminence. 1CO 1:4‑8, “I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The Corinthian church was made up of loser believers, yet Paul thanked God concerning them because they were the beneficiaries of phenomenal grace, they were in union with Christ, and most of all, were enriched by Him. Enrichment in the Christian life is not measured in terms of work and Christian service, but in terms of doctrine and knowledge. Yet most of the Corinthian believers rejected that doctrine.

So while the Rapture is imminent, no one knows when it will occur. In the meantime, the Royal Family of God lives in this dispensation of historical trends. In fact, the imminence of the Rapture is a doctrine for mature believers only. A mature believer lives as though the Rapture could occur at any moment. A mature believer should be eager for the Rapture to occur. However, only the Trinity knows when the Rapture is going to occur.

Point 4. The Work of the Holy Spirit as the Restrainer (2TH 2:1-2).

2TH 2:1-2, “Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” In the Bible, “The day of the Lord” can include the Rapture, the last half of the Tribulation, Second Advent, and Millennium, all total 1007 years. It is also used for any portion of this period, the context dictating how long (ISA 2:12; ISA 13:6; Joel 1:15, 2:1; ZEC 14:1, 1TH 5:2; 2PE 3:10). The Thessalonians were concerned that the Rapture had already taken place, and that the day of the Lord was already there. This is because the persecutions which they were enduring at the time had given them a basis for this erroneous conclusion. Therefore, Paul writes to show them that such a thing was impossible. 2TH 2:3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, So, first he shows them in verse that the day of the Lord could not take place until there was a departure. In order to understand this we need to note the Greek word for apostasy in verse 3. It is apostasia and refers to a departure, it could either refer to the departure from the faith or the departure of the saints as mentioned in verse 1. Secondly, Paul reveals that there was to be the manifestation of the man of sin or the lawless one described in Rev 13. 2TH 2:3-7, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so‑called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God. Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he may be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.”

Note that this lawless one could not be manifested until the restrainer is taken out of the way. In other words, Someone is preventing Satan from coming to complete power at this time! The restrainer is the Holy Spirit that keeps on restraining Satan. As long as the Holy Spirit is resident within the Church, which is His temple, His restraining work will continue. 1CO 6:19 “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” It is only when the Church or the temple is removed that this restraining ministry ceases. Then in DAN 9:27, Daniel reveals that this lawless one will be manifested at the beginning of the 70th week, “And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Point 5. The contrasts between the Rapture and the Second Coming (Advent).

We need to establish the fact that these are two different events. The Rapture removes all living believers from the earth while the Second Coming removes unbelievers from the earth (1CO 15:51-52, MAT 24:40-41). – In the Rapture, the saints are caught up in the air with Him, while at the Second Advent of Christ, He returns to the earth. – In the Rapture, Christ comes to claim His bride while at the Second Coming He returns with the Bride. – The Rapture results in the removal of the Church and insertion of the Tribulation, while the Second Coming results in the establishment of the Millennial kingdom. – The Rapture is imminent (could take place at any moment) while the Second Coming is preceded by a multitude of signs. – The Rapture brings a message of comfort while the Second Advent is accompanied by a message of judgment (baptism of fire). – The Rapture is a mystery while the Second Advent is predicted in both the old and new Testaments. – The Rapture leaves creation unchanged while the Second Advent entails the change in creation. – The Rapture takes place before the day of wrath, but the Second Advent follows it. – The Rapture is for believers only, but the Second Advent has its effect on all men. – The expectation of the Church in regard to the Rapture is that the Lord is at hand (PHI 4:5), while the expectation of Israel in regard to the Second Advent is that the kingdom is at hand (MAT 24:14).

These are some of the contrasts which may be presented to support the fact that the Rapture and the Second Advent are distinct events!

In continuing to prove the pre-tribulation Rapture, we need to look at Revelation chapter 4. This is a passage which illustrates that the Church is no longer on earth, and that it is in Heaven worshipping the Lord. REV 4:1-4, “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in Heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, ‘Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.’ Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in Heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance. And around the throne were twenty‑four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty‑four elders sitting, clothed in white garments, and golden crowns on their heads.”

In verse 4, John is given a vision of 24 elders who are seated on thrones. Notice that these elders who are seated on thrones are clothed in white garments, crowned with golden crowns, and in Heaven in the presence of God. Several answers are given as to the question of the identity of these twenty four elders. First of all, notice that these 24 elders are not angels. What is said of the 24 elders could not be true of angelic beings, because angels are not crowned with victors crowns. The phrase the golden crowns in the Greek is chrusous stephanous which are given to Church-age believers (1CO 9:25, PHI 4:1, 1TH 2:19, 2TI 4:8, JAM 1:12, 1PE 5:4). Also there is something which is said in verse 4 that should be very meaningful to most of you by now, And around the throne were twenty‑four thrones; and upon the thrones I saw twenty‑four elders sitting. Nowhere in the Scriptures are we told that angels are seated on thrones, which speaks of Royal dignity and Honor. This privilege is given to believers only because of the strategic victory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, these 24 elders are resurrected, redeemed men who are clothed, crowned and seated on thrones in connection with Royalty in Heaven. There are four inerrant marks which identify these elders as representative of the Church: First, their position. They are sitting on the thrones which make up the rainbow around the throne in REV 4:3. To the Church and only to the Church, is co-enthronement promised. REV 3:21-22, “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Notice that this co-enthronement is said to the Churches. In Rev 4, the Lord Jesus Christ is not seated upon the throne on earth, but rather in Heaven, and these individuals have been presented faultless and have already received their rewards for glorifying God.

The second inerrant mark which identifies these elders as representative of the Church is the number of these elders. Especially in this book where numbers are so great a part of the symbolism, 24 is the number of the choruses into which the Levitical priesthood was divided (1CH 24:1-19). The number 24 represented priesthood. Of all the groups of the redeemed only the Church is a priesthood (1PE 12:5-9; REV 1:6).

The third inerrant mark which identifies these elders as representative of the Church is the testimony of the enthroned elders. REV 5:8-10, And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty‑four elders fell down before the Lamb, having each one a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” The Church and only the Church can testify to being made a kingdom and priests to our God.

The fourth important mark is that they are called elders, and elder-ship is a representative office for the Church age (ACT 15:2; ACT 20:17).

The elders are members of the Church, and they are seen in Heaven in the place which the Scriptures assign to the Church. They are there before a seal is opened, or a woe is uttered and before the wrath of God is poured out. Therefore, they are there before the Tribulation period begins. They are in their redeemed state, clothed with white raiment and crowned with crowns. From this chapter to the 20th chapter, the Church is never once referred to as on earth. In fact, the Church is seen in Rev 19 coming down from Heaven following the Lord Jesus Christ. REV 19:7-16, “Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready. And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. And he said to me, ‘Write, Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’ And he said to me, ‘These are true words of God.’ And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said to me, ‘Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.’ And I saw Heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in Heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. And on His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, ‘KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.’”

These believers are seen to be resurrected, in Heaven, evaluated, rewarded and enthroned at the beginning of the 70th week or the Tribulational period. Therefore we can easily conclude that the church has already been raptured. If the Church is not resurrected, and if there is no such thing as a Rapture, how could the Church be in Heaven in REV 19:7-11?

We also need to note the problem behind the following: 1TH 4:13-18, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”

The Thessalonian Christians were not ignorant or uninformed about the resurrection. Their misunderstanding was of the relationship between the resurrection and the saints who had died before the Rapture. Paul writes, not to teach the fact of resurrection, but rather the fact that at the Rapture, the living would not have an advantage over the dead in Christ. “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.” Now, if the Thessalonians had believed that the Church would be going through the 70th week, or the Tribulational period, they would have rejoiced that some of the brethren had missed the period of suffering, and were with the Lord without experiencing the outpouring of wrath. In other words, if the Church were going through the tribulation it would be better to be with the Lord than to have to await the events of the 70th week. The Thessalonians would be praising the Lord that their brethren were spared these events, instead of feeling that the dead had missed some of the Lord’s blessing.

The principle is that the early Church believed that the Church would not go through the 70th week and in their anticipation of the return of Christ they mourned for their brethren whom they thought had missed the blessing of this event. Therefore, the apostle Paul says, “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who have died, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again[and we do], even so God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.”

The Word of God teaches in PRO 30:5 that every word of God is pure, and this means that no matter what the subject is, you need to learn it! It also teaches in 2TI 2:15, that a pastor should “Study to present himself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth.” In fact, this same word translated as study in 2TI 2:15 is also found in 2PE 1:10 “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent [study] to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble;” So the pastor is to study and teach, that is his job, and then he is to take this study and as EPH 4:12 says, “equip the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;” I say all of this because one of the reasons why it is so important to document the Rapture accurately is that there are large movements in this nation which are based upon the belief that there is no Rapture. Such as movements like the Christian coalition or the Promise keepers. There is also a movement called Dominion theology or re-constructionalism which teaches post-millenialism and they are anti-dispensationalists. These conflicting views impact the way believers are involved in this present society.

Christian reconstruction teaches that the victory of God’s kingdom on earth is during and continuous with our present era. Whereas those who believe in the Rapture believe that Christ will come back for His bride, then seven years later His intervening judgment will destroy current society, and then He will institute the Millennial conditions. Today, many Christians are attracted to the dominion position because they have an agenda. They are often involved in politics or social reform for which they believe re-constructionalism provides the vision to lead them to success. This is nothing more then creature credit! This movement is not concerned with the fulfillment of such passages as EPH 4:12-13, or 1TI 2:3-4, but rather fulfilling their own agenda. EPH 4:11-13, “And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fulness of Christ.”

1TI 2:3-4 says, “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

These movements are made up of individuals from all different Biblical beliefs, in fact some of them do not even believe in the Bible, and that Jesus Christ is God! Many believers get involved with these movements not directly, but indirectly through the back door, rather than the front door which is Biblical study. They arrive at these views not from the study of Scripture, but by the romantic attraction of changing the world. This is why a true student of the Word of God will let the Scripture be the final authority, not what seems pleasing to the world.

They also believe in the application of the Judicial laws of Moses in modern society. These beliefs will not produce believers who honor, love or respect the Lord Jesus Christ, but rather produce a group of disillusioned people, completely distracted from God’s present purpose for the Church-age believer.

What is God’s present purpose for the Church-age believer? It is to be filled with the Holy Spirit (EPH 5:18). It is to walk by means of the Holy Spirit (GAL 5:16). It is to execute the Pre-designed Plan of God (PPOG), 1JO 2:6 “And this is virtue-love, that we walk according to His commands. This is the command, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it [the PPOG for your life]”

Those who do not believe in the Rapture believe that our apostate civilization can be converted into the kingdom of God. Therefore they ignore or spiritualize Scriptures like 1TH 4:16-17, 2TH 2:1-3, 1CO 15:51-52, all of which speak of the Rapture. They ignore 1TH 1:7-9, REV 19:11-16, which speaks of the Second Coming. They have no Scriptural documentation to back up their belief of changing the world and making it a better place to live. Their major leaders state that all of God’s laws, including the Mosaic Law, every jot and tittle, as the King James says, should be applied directly to American life. This belief is contrary to the New Testament teaching in the Epistles, referring to the Mosaic Law as well as the subjection to human governments. ROM 13:1-7, “Let every person be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same; for it is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath upon the one who practices evil. Wherefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of wrath, but also for conscience’ sake. For because of this you also pay taxes, for rulers are servants of God, devoting themselves to this very thing. Render to all what is due them: tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.”

Look at 1PE 2:13-16, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.”

Believing in this eventual earthly triumph of the Church, the reconstructionists have found a natural ally in many other organizations such as the positive confession movement. In fact, some even misinterpret MAT 11:12 and LUK 16:16 and say that we are to take the kingdom that God has given us even by violence if necessary. What happens in this movement is that they teach their followers to use their authority in Christ to overcome all barriers to materially successful lives. They take Scriptures like PHI 4:19 out of context which says “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Notice it says needs not wants! Of course all of this is very attractive to those in the lower-middle class life hoping to escape the economic restrictions of their lifestyles. So rather than a trust in the provisions made available from God the Father who is intimately concerned with each one of His children, and the care of the Lord Jesus Christ for His bride, they are hoping for the  improvement of the world to make things better for them. The point is that their hope is not as TIT 2:13 says, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; their hope is not the hope of COL 1:27 “to whom the God decreed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery in the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of the glory.” The fact that Jesus Christ indwells you is the basis and origin of your hope, not changing the world and getting involved in politics. Hope anticipates the function of the integrity of God on our behalf. 1TH 1:3 “constantly bearing in mind your work of doctrine, and labor of love, and courage under pressure from hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of God the Father.” Hope is cultivated through the intake of doctrine. Bible doctrine in the soul gives you confidence in the future and the enjoyment of what God provides for you now and in eternity, not changing the world and making it a better place to live. JOB 4:6 “Is not your respect for God your confidence?  And is not your hope the integrity of your ways?” HEB 11:1“In fact, doctrine is the reality from which we receive hope, the proof of matters not being seen.” The reality of blessing for time and eternity is found in hope or confidence of Bible doctrine not in changing the world!

The Christian re-constructionists emphasize exercising dominion authority, or their so called power in Christ, to advance His Lordship over all things. Since our Lord is the King of kings and the Lord of Lord’s they say that His dominion extends to all of life, and therefore we must take dominion and authority over the world and do it boldly. They say that the promise land belonged to Israel, but first Joshua and the Jews had to claim it by annihilating its occupants, and so we must do the same! They are supporters of prayer in schools, involvement with the Government! Blowing up abortion clinics. Getting Jesus into society, etc. What they teach is that God’s kingdom is in this world, and we must be like a church militant group confident of triumph. Yet in JOH 18:36 our Lord says, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting,”

Let’s take a look at how subtle their teaching is. They teach that Adam forfeited his lawful inheritance when he rebelled against God. Therefore Satan received this inheritance when he caused Adam to sin, so Satan conquered the world in one day by Adam’s default, so far so good. However, then they say that the Lord Jesus Christ restored the inheritance to His people when He defeated Satan on the Cross. Makes sense, but it is not Biblical. They teach that Christians are required to pursue the same program of world dominion which God originally assigned to Adam, and reassigned to Noah. Again, ignorance of dispensational truth, and an inaccurate understanding of the Word of God. They have been led astray and distracted in order to help Satan clean up his world and create further accusation against God. The point of Christian reconstructionism is that it teaches the victory of God’s kingdom on earth during and continuous with our present era. Some even think that we are in the Millennium and therefore we should do our part to change the world!

Now, a pre-millenialist, which is what I am, believes that Christ’s intervening judgment will destroy the current society, and then Christ will institute millennial conditions. Most people who get involved with this anti-rapture creature credit movement arrive at these views not from the study of scripture, but by the romantic attraction of changing the world. Many reconstructionist believe that their job is to rebuild our apostate civilization into the kingdom of God, and so pave the way for the coming Millennium. This, of course, contributes greatly to Satan’s plan to try and counterfeit the Millennium and get individuals to help him clean up the world and make it a better place to live.

Remember that Satan’s major objective is to be like God, as found in ISA 14:14 where Satan said “I will make myself like the Most High.” This is actually one of the most important principles concerning Satan, and it also one of the least known. This is why we are warned in 2CO 2:11 “in order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.” Satan has deceived the world, including the Christian church, to make us think that he is totally opposite of God. In fact one of the meanings of 2TH 2:4 which says that Satan opposes and exalts himself above every so‑called god or object of worship, is that Satan makes you think that he is something that he is not. Satan wants you to think that he is this ugly looking creature with a red epidermis, carrying a trident. This isn’t the devil at all, the devil is the most beautiful creature whoever came from the hand of God. Probably one of the most shocking things you will ever hear is the fact that the devil is not interested in getting people to sin. Instead, he is vitally interested in getting you to perform human good. If you are a do-gooder living under the power of your old sin nature, the devil applauds you, and he doesn’t bother with you. Satan is actively interested in putting down any believer anywhere who knows Bible doctrine. Satan is interested in performing all the good he can, and eliminating the bad. Satan is not interested in immorality, immorality is embarrassing to him because he is the ruler of this world. As the greatest creature ever created, this world is an insult to his leadership. Satan’s plan is to get humans to produce as much human good as possible, and to infiltrate the plan of God with human good, and the only way he can do so is to persuade believers to perform human good. However, Satan cannot do this to a believer who has knowledge of Bible doctrine, but he can do it to a believer who is ignorant of doctrine and therefore a sucker for human good. Human good appeals to approbation lust, to power lust, and to the old sin nature. As far as most believers are personally concerned, the only contact the devil will have with them will be the fact that they performed X amount of human good to help the devil clean up this world. Government, morals, education, art, commercialism, vast enterprises and organizations, and religious activity are
included in the Satan’s plan to deceive the human race. In fact, the presence evil in the world is not due to Satan’s intention to have it so, but rather his inability to control the human race.

This is why God’s plan for the human race is not to clean up the devil’s world, rather it is to offer salvation to the unbeliever and knowledge of Bible doctrine to the believer. What make his deceptions so great are the overt similarities that he has with God. Throughout history and prophecy there can be no doubt about the fact that the one thing Satan is after is worship from man. That’s why he said to the Lord Jesus Christ in LUK 4:6 “I will give You all this domain and its glory; for it has been handed over to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore if You worship before me, it shall all be Yours.” That’s why during the Tribulation period, the man of sin will demand the worship of the people of the earth, or they will pay the penalty of death (REV 13:4; REV 13:8; REV 13:12; REV 14:9-11; REV 19:20).

Remember that the unregenerate and even regenerate humanity are said to be deceived by Satan. Their delusion is both tragic and disgraceful because they don’t have to be deceived. In REV 12:9 “And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world;” In REV 20:3 “and threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed {it} over him, so that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were completed;”

Many religious leaders today have dreams of a transformed, regenerated world as a result of human effort by means of Christian service and Christian values, and this is without foundation according to the Word of God. This is a perfect description of what’s going on today with most churches and with most Christians who are involved with, trying to make the world a better place to live. This is what happens when individuals do not understand the importance of the Rapture position. The Church is not here to help the devil clean up his world. Satan’s deceptions in this area will continue until he is bound and consigned to the Abyss. Who will bind Satan and place him in that prison? It is not the Church or the believer that binds Satan, it is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is a form of deception which has seized members of the human race so that they have failed to see the uncomplicated teaching of the Bible with respect to the course and end of evil. Evil is cleaning up the devil’s world! HEB 5:12-14, For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

The form of deception that Satan uses to blind believers is that of negative volition toward doctrine. So when God declares, as he does throughout the Bible, that the world is to continue with increasing deception and to continue to live in the lie until it is crushed by the infinite power of the Lord Jesus Christ, there is little ground for any attempts to save the world or to transform it. That’s exactly what those who reject the doctrine of the Rapture are trying to do, clean up, save and transform the world. It’s an amazing principle when you think of it! Here is this world that abuses people, misuses them, takes advantage of them and yet people invest all of their time in trying to make it better! The point is that most Christians are involved with movements and programs to try and make this world a better place to live. If you try to point out the danger, you are considered to be a heretic and even evil. When in reality, these apostate believers are so influenced by evil that they cannot even see their very own deception. As Isaiah said in chapter 5 verse 20 they call evil good and good evil. ISA 5:20 Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

Christians should not be involved in the attempted rescue of that which God has doomed to destruction which is this world system. This world system is by its’ very nature anti-God. Again this is a perfect description of what’s going on in Christianity today. God has doomed this world, under its present leader Satan to destruction, and yet so many believers are working overtime to try and preserve the world that God has doomed. They are forgetting of course the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ controls history. Think of it, here is this world that the Bible describes as anti-god, and here are all these Christians sidetracked, minus doctrine, trying to clean up the devils world. One of the greatest delusions Satan imposes is the supposition that only such things as society considers evil could originate with the devil, if indeed there is a devil at all to originate anything. Actually it is the Word of God which reveals the fact that governments, morals, education, art, commercialism, vast enterprises and organizations, and much of religious activity are all a part of the deception of Satan. Satan even uses all the good which he can in the world to try and accomplish his goal which is to be equal with God.

What are the things he aims to accomplish?

He aims to be like the most high! That is why the presence of evil in the world is not due to Satan’s intention to have it so but the fact that Satan’s ambition has led him to undertake more than any creature could ever handle. The Bible teaches that the world system must be destroyed, not its evil alone, but all that is in it, both good and bad. God will include nothing of Satan’s failure into that kingdom which He will set up in the earth. All the programs out today, whether Christian or non-Christian will be rejected when the Lord comes back to set up His kingdom. So the Satanic lie is expanded to the point where its manifestation embraces all that is in the world and it is built on the one original idea which characterizes it all, namely, independence of God. One thing that Satan promotes is independence from God. He is the father of creature credit! Today scores of believers are involved with trying to clean up the world and make it presentable for the Lord, when in reality they are helping the super creature genius, Satan! Those of the world system are not influenced by God’s word. Even cosmic Christians are not influenced by Bible doctrine. This reveals the far-reaching effect of the Satanic deception.

There you have the reason why many things that Christians are involved with are classified as evil. They are not dedicated to doctrine. They are not accurate in their doctrine. They are not interested in doctrine. They are too busy cleaning up the devils world. Too busy getting prayer back into schools. Too busy because they are involved in politics! Too busy blowing up abortion clinics. Too busy trying to make the world a better place to live. Too busy sticking their nose into other people’s business. In a priest or client nation to God, there exist all the concepts of freedom, including privacy, the sacredness of property and life, free enterprise, and little government with big people. Yet evangelicals today want to pass laws which would, in effect, make all unbelievers outlaws. Under freedom, people have the right to believe in Christ, to be evangelized, and to say no or yes to the Gospel. People’s rights must be protected whether we agree with them or not. Furthermore, believers in a client nation should be free to find their right pastor and learn the details of the PPOG from him, and as a result, to have a fantastic historical invisible impact. In any client nation there are both believers and unbelievers, as well as many other religions besides Christianity. There is no such thing as so-called Christian laws. The standards for Christianity are found only in the PPOG and in our portfolio of invisible assets.

Therefore, we have no right to interfere in the lives of others and dictate what they should wear, how they should think, or what they should say. The impact of Christianity is found only in evangelism, yet few believers understand Salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

Therefore, to outlaw a certain segment of society because they do not adhere to Christian principles is a disaster. To force a superficial theory of Christianity on all people becomes tantamount to tyranny. We have the right to our opinions, but so do other believers and others who are involved in cults and religions. People have the right to believe what they want to believe. We have no right to persecute or imprison such people. The Bible clearly emphasizes that the impact of Christianity on a nation is definitely spiritual. Christians have civil responsibility in military service, paying taxes, and in fulfilling certain civic responsibilities. This does not include violence, destruction of property, intrusion on the privacy of anyone, or any form of civil disobedience.

Yet Christian leaders in evangelicalism today are advocating civil disobedience. The separation of Church and state demands that the believer understand his role in society in terms of the will, plan, and purpose of God for the Church-age believer as a member of the Royal Family of God.

ThRobert McLaughlin Bible Ministries P.O Box 3519 Cranston RI 02910

Grace Bible Church 205 Main Street # 9 Ashland, MA 01721

 

e spiritual impact of the PPOG not only opposes the present modus operandi of Christian activism, but assigns it to the arrogance of the cosmic system.

 

Will God Choose Israel In The Future

 

Matthew McGeeposted by dtbrentsIsaiah 14:1 says, “For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

Many denominations hold to the view that God has forsaken the nation of Israel forever. They feel that because Israel crucified their Messiah, Jesus Christ, that God has taken away the promises He made to Israel, and has applied those promises to the present day predominantly Gentile church. However, we must not put “what we feel” above what God’s Word actually says. In this article, we will examine the following three statements:

1. God made an unconditional everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

2. According to Bible prophecy, Israel will be back in their own land and will be the central focus in the end times.

3. God revealed the mystery of Israel’s temporary fall to the Apostle Paul.

God’s Unconditional Everlasting Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

God made unconditional promises to Abraham (originally named Abram) that were not dependent upon any action of Abraham or his descendants. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abram, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” At that time, Abram was 75 years old, and he and his wife, Sarai (later named Sarah), had no children.

Abram was also promised a vast amount of land in Genesis 15:18, “… the LORD (Jehovah) made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates ….” This includes the land where Israel now exists plus a considerable amount of additional middle eastern land.

After more than ten years had passed, Abram and Sarai were still childless. They were growing impatient, and their faith that God would fulfill His promise was weak. So Sarai convinced Abram to have a son by her handmaid, Hagar, and they named the boy Ishmael.

Then about 14 years later, God appeared to Abram. The “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7) is for Abraham and his seed after him: “… all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). The covenant was later passed down to Isaac. Genesis 17:18-21 says, “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” So God’s covenant with Abraham passed on to Isaac, but not to Ishmael.

Isaac was the child of God’s promise, but Ishmael had been born as a result of Abram and Sarai’s lack of faith. So in the eyes of God, Abraham only had one son. We know this because God told Abraham in Genesis 22:2, “… Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Ultimately God spared Isaac’s life, but Abraham passed this test of faith by trusting God and being willing to do as He said.

This covenant was once again confirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26:3-4, “… unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ….

When Isaac blessed Jacob in Genesis 27:29 he said, “cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

God also confirmed His covenant to Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15 saying, “… I am the LORD (Jehovah) God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again unto this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” God confirmed His covenant with Jacob again in Genesis 35:11-12.

Israel will be the Focus of the End Times

Another reason that we know that God has not forsaken Israel forever is the prominence Israel has in the end time prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled. The Old Testament is rich with prophecies of end time events. All of the prophecies and visions were given to Hebrew prophets, and most of the events take place in, or are centered around the nation of Israel. Here are four examples:

1. The abomination of desolation will take place in the temple which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15).

2. The battle of Armageddon will take place in the Valley of Megiddo in Israel, where all nations will come to fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3 and Revelation 16:13-16).

3. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will come down to the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:9-11).

4. In the millenial kingdom, all nations will be required to come to Jerusalem to worship Jesus Christ the King and to keep the feast of tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).

There are also end time prophecies recorded in the New Testament which show the prominence of Israel. Here are four examples:

1. In the book of Revelation, our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed through the Apostle John that during the tribulation, 12,000 young men will be chosen from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8).

2. The division between the people of Israel and the Gentiles is quite evident in Revelation 11:1-2 which says, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles ….” Under the law of Moses, Gentiles were not permitted inside the temple. This passage reveals that this will once again be the case during the future seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy, which is commonly referred to as the tribulation.

3. Chapter 12 of Revelation tells how the remnant of Israel will be chased into the wilderness by Satan and his armies where they must remain protected by God for the final three and a half years, commonly referred to as the great tribulation (Revelation 12:6 and 17).

4. Finally, Revelation 21:12 says the new Jerusalem will have “… a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel ….

We know from the scriptures and from history that many prophecies about Israel have already been fulfilled, and that God, sooner or later, always fulfills His prophecies. In addition to the prophecies above, there are many other great prophecies about the prominence of Israel that have never been fulfilled. So this can only mean that they are yet going to take place. Zechariah 8:22-23 says, “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord … In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

The Mystery of Israel’s Temporary Fall

Perhaps the greatest reason that we know that God will one day bring the nation of Israel back into prominence is provided by our apostle Paul in Romans chapter 11. He explains God’s plan “to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy” (v.11), adding “… if the fall of them be the riches of the world … how much more their fulness?” (Romans 11:12). Through the temporary setting aside of Israel, God brought salvation to the Gentiles. But when Israel is returned to that place of prominence in fulfillment of the Bible prophecies, even more Gentiles will be saved as a result.

Paul reveals the mystery of Israel’s temporary blindness in Romans 11:25-29 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion a Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (the unbelieving portion of Israel): For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching election, they are beloved for the fathers’ (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) sakes. For the gifts of God are without repentance.” When God made His promises to the nation of Israel, He already knew all the wrong that they would do, including crucifying their Messiah, but He still did not add any conditions to the promises. Despite all of this, God will still fulfill all of the promises which He made to the nation of Israel in both the Old and New Testaments. The Almighty God is a God of His Word.

THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE SUFFERING SERVANT AS APPLYING TO ISRAEL

Jack W. Langford

Posted by dtbrents

THE IDENTIFICATION OF THE SUFFERING SERVANT AS APPLYING TO ISRAEL
WAS OBSERVED BY CERTAIN CHRISTIAN SCHOLARS
Most conservative, fundamental, evangelical Christians are not aware of the fact
that a good number of Bible scholars have long taught that this passage of Scripture,
though obviously a foretelling of the person and work of Jesus Christ in the spiritual
redemption of mankind, nevertheless in context is also fundamentally a clear picture of
the place Israel has as God’s “Suffering Servant” for the social redemption of mankind.
This will be performed at the future coming of the Messiah to deliver Israel and reign on
earth. These two lines of Bible prophecy do not contradict nor eradicate each other.
E.W. Bullinger was both a great scholar and a very conservative Bible teacher. He
states very plainly that Isaiah 53, in context, has an immediate interpretation to the nation
of Israel. Yet, at the very same time, there is a Scriptural and beautiful application to the
Lord Jesus Christ—see, How to Enjoy The Bible, pages 393-397, 1990 by Kregel, from
the 4th edition, 1916.
Several modern Christian Study Bibles are now openly declaring this
interpretation as applying to Israel. See The Oxford Annotated Bible (both the R.S.V. and
11
the N.R.S.V.), and also The Harper Collins Study Bible (N.R.S.V.). The older
Westminister Study Bible, published in 1948, gives more details in explaining the same
interpretation.
A goodly number of critical scholarly works by Christians done on the whole
book of Isaiah have given this interpretation. However, sometimes this has been done by
liberal scholars who apply it only to Israel’s past history in an effort to do away with any
miraculous aspect of Biblical prophecy. Countering this, much of the time, conservative
scholars will only admit to the application to Jesus Christ. Both of these conclusions are
wrong, as the foregoing Bible study has demonstrated.
MY OWN PAST EXPERIENCE
From 1953 through 1955 I personally was employed, in several different
capacities, by the “Biblical Research Society” of Los Angeles, Calif. For the most part
this was while I was also a Bible College student. This particular organization was a
distinguished mission to evangelize the Jewish people. Its primary aim was to reach the
rabbis who are the leaders in Judaism. Its methodology was through the publication of
literature. There were also several branch offices in other parts of the country. During that
time I sat under the teaching ministry of the administrator, David L. Cooper, who was a
well-known Hebrew scholar and a conservative Bible teacher. David L. Cooper wrote
the very significant “Messianic Series” of books. His main objection to viewing Isaiah
53 as having an application to Israel as the “Suffering Servant” was stated thusly, “never
in the pages of Jewish history can it be shown that the nation or a remnant of the nation
has voluntarily suffered in behalf of others.” Nor had he ever known of “the Jews
bear(ing) all the oppression heaped upon them like lambs” (The Eternal God revealing
Himself by David L. Cooper, pages 223 & 224). However, David L. Cooper’s book was
written in 1928, without looking into the long history of “Christian” anti-Semitism in the
brutal form of the Crusades, Inquisitions and pogroms, and most certainly this was long
before the Holocaust.
One Saturday morning I went into the office of David L. Cooper to begin my
usual cleanup of the whole upstairs offices and meeting room in order to prepare it for the
Sunday morning services that were also held there. As I went around “Dr” Cooper’s huge
desk to start cleaning behind it, my eyes caught sight of two new volumes sent to him.
The titles arrested my curiosity—Blessed Is The Match by Marie Ayrkin, and The Final
Solution by Gerald Reitlinger. At that time the only thing I knew about what was later
called “The Holocaust” were the photographs and newsreels of piles of emaciated, naked
bodies in huge trenches taken at the close of World War Two. I had not even realized at
that time that most of these victims were Jews.
So, instead of cleaning, I sat down in the comfortable scholar’s chair behind his
desk and began reading. I became mesmerized for many hours. When I finally lifted up
my eyes it was dark outside. I had been immersed nearly all day long into a realm of
unspeakable horror and suffering. I now knew clearly of the special venom that the Nazi
regime, along with many others, had for the Jewish people. To me the most amazing
thing about it all was that “they went like sheep to the slaughter.” I had to literally
“shake loose” from my spell in that kingdom of death to quickly clean up that building.
12
But the one phrase that I could not “shake loose” from was the words I had read “as
lambs to the slaughter.” I very clearly remember feeling, at first as a Christian, that their
use of this phrase was an infringement upon my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, Who alone
was “the Lamb Who went to the slaughter” for the sins of the world and for my own!
Yet I could not doubt their own experiences. I reasoned further, as I pushed my dust mop
out of that office and down the hall, “these other people, the Jews, are only telling of their
factual experiences through that awful ordeal in the very same terms—and perhaps I can
and should allow for that application of the expression as well.”
WHY THE HOLOCAUST ?
And now, over fifty years after the Holocaust, the whole story has become very
clear and nearly complete. However, the question that has plagued the minds of
historians, sociologists, philosophers, and theologians of all persuasions has remained—
“Why the Holocaust?” How could the modern civilized world have been caught in such a
perverted catastrophe? Of course, this question has especially haunted the Jewish mind.
How can it be explained? Why would God ever allow such a thing to happen to His
“chosen people”?? And there, emerging through the withering and fading gloom of
confusion is the script of Isaiah 53—God’s “Suffering Servant,” who was ruthlessly
maligned and slaughtered under our very noses in this modern 20th century while most
nations backed away in amusement, repulsion or indifference. The haunting question that
seems to be unanswered IS answered in Isaiah 53! Israel suffered, as it were, on behalf
of the nations of earth, bearing their iniquities. And now posted around the world are
museums, monuments and memorials of all kinds, reminding the world of the horrible
crime that was committed, and in turn soliciting from the world a solemn sorrow and
repentance. Will the world recognize its depravity in repentance?
And yet, in addition, Israel suffered because of her own “transgression” as well.
Most all Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jewish teachers recognize this. I have read many
articles from the different Jewish branches searching for an answer. Their main problem
has been finding and specifying “the sin” that was the basis for God forsaking them.
Here, mere religious rationalizations are of no avail. Here again, Isaiah answers that
question. The very fact that Israel’s suffering is uniquely coupled with that seemingly
inexplicable suffering of the Messiah, indicates that Israel’s suffering as related to her
“transgression,” is also in her relationship to the Messiah’s death. The only sin that Israel
could possibly be guilty of, that is in proportion to the magnitude of the Holocaust, is the
sin of rejecting her Messiah. Will the Jewish people recognize their historic unbelief in
repentance?
Whereas Israel’s suffering is the basis for the social redemption of the nations of
earth into that Millennial Kingdom, the suffering of the Messiah is the basis for the
eternal spiritual redemption of all the world, and for Israel herself. We must remember
that the Law Dispensation ended with the Holocaust of God’s dear Son, and a new Age
began shortly thereafter. So it is, this present Christian Dispensation is concluding with
another Holocaust—that of the Jew—and most assuredly, a new Age is about to begin.
Indeed, this prophecy of Isaiah 53, as it has to do with Israel’s suffering, will shortly see
its final phase called in the Bible “The time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7a).
However, there will be one important difference—
13
“But He [Israel] Shall Be Saved Out Of It” (Jeremiah 30:7b).
In addition, we should exclaim, “Woe be to the nations of earth who shall now
drink from “the cup of God’s fury” (Isaiah 51:22,23)!
ISAIAH 53 WAS LONG UNDERSTOOD BY JEWISH SAGES
AS REFERRING TO THE MESSIAH !
Many Jews today have been taught, and therefore think, that the early Christian
Church came up with a new and novel interpretation of Isaiah 53 as referring to the
Messiah—Jesus Christ. Jews today have been taught that this passage was always
understood as referring to the nation of Israel, and so the Jewish teachers have interpreted
it throughout the ages. Such is very plainly NOT the truth!
Jewish teachers from the very first century have almost always taught that the
“Suffering Servant” passage of Isaiah 52 & 53 had reference to the Messiah Himself. To
establish this, allow me to quote extensively from the following source, The Messiah
Texts, Jewish Legends of Three Thousand years, by the internationally regarded Jewish
scholar, Raphael Patai. He is a noted anthropologist, Biblical scholar and author. He has
taught Hebrew at the University of Jerusalem and other subjects in the United States. His
research and concluding statements on this subject are very impressive.
From the Introduction, page 23. “This great poet-prophet [Isaiah] spoke
repeatedly about the ‘Servant of the Lord,’ describing the call, mission, sufferings, death,
and resurrection of this mysterious individual (Isa. 42:1-4; 49:1-6; 50:4-9; 52:13-53:12).
As to the identification of this ‘Servant,’ there is no scholarly consensus to this day.
However, the Aggada, the Talmudic legend, unhesitatingly identifies him with the
Messiah, and understands especially the descriptions of his sufferings as referring to
Messiah ben Joseph.”
From The Biblical Preamble, pages 1 & 2. “The important prophecies of
Deutero-Isaiah about the Suffering servant, for instance, are considered by Jewish as well
as Christian scholars as referring to the people of Israel as a whole…personified in ‘the
Servant of the Lord.’ Yet these same passages became in Talmudic times identified with
the Messianic theme, and so they have remained in Jewish folk consciousness throughout
the ages. In fact, it is quite probable that the concept of the suffering Messiah, fully
developed in the Talmud, the Midrash, and the Zohar, has its origin in the Biblical
prophecies about the Suffering Servant, as shown by the direct reference to Isaiah 53:5 in
describing the sufferings of the Messiah in the Talmud, the Midrash Konen (eleventh or
twelfth century), and the Zohar (thirteenth century).”
From pages 166 & 167. “Scholars have repeatedly speculated about the origin of
the Messiah ben Joseph legend and the curious fact that the Messiah figure has thus been
split in two. It would seem that in the early legend, the death of the Messiah was
envisaged, perhaps as a development of the Suffering Servant motif. A prophecy of
Daniel, written about 164 B.C.E., is the earliest source speaking of the death of a
Mashiah (‘Anointed’) sixty-two (prophetic) weeks after his coming and after the return
and rebuilding of Jerusalem (Dan. 9:24-26)…some two centuries later, the author of IV
Ezra unmistakably refers to the Messiah…My son the Messiah shall die.”
14
(Continuing). “When the death of the Messiah became an established tenet in
Talmudic times, this was felt to be irreconcilable with the Messiah as the Redeemer who
would usher in the blissful millennium of the Messianic age. The dilemma was solved by
splitting the person of the Messiah in two: one of them, called Messiah ben Joseph…after
many victories and miracles, would fall victim to God and Magog. The other, Messiah
ben David, will come after him (in some legends will bring him back to life, which
psychologically hints at the identity of the two), and will lead Israel to the ultimate
victory, the triumph, and the Messianic era of bliss.”
(Continuing). “This splitting of the Messiah in two persons, which took place in
the Talmudic period, achieved another purpose besides resolving the dilemma of the slain
Messiah. According to an old tradition, the Messiah was perfectly prefigured in Moses.
But Moses died before he could lead the Children of Israel into the Land of Promise.
Consequently, for the parallel to be complete, the Messiah, too, had to die before
accomplishing his great task of ultimate redemption. Since, however, the Messiah would
not be the true Redeemer of God if he did not fulfill that ultimate task, the only solution
was to let one Messiah, like Moses, die, and then assign the completion of the work of
Redemption to a second Messiah.”
From pages 42, 43 & 104, 105. Raphael Patai shows that the various Messiah
legends have an aim of merging the Messiah and Israel together in sufferings. “No other
legend in the great Messiah cycle shows as clearly as this one that the Messiah is none
other than Israel personified…Messiah voluntarily undertook the sufferings in order to
ease the fate of Israel…”
(Continuing). “In all of this the Messiah becomes heir to the Suffering Servant of
God, who figures prominently in the prophecies of Deutero-Isaiah, and who suffers
undeservedly for the sins of others…There can be little doubt that psychologically the
Suffering Messiah is but a projection and personification of Suffering Israel.”
Another source—in the first century, Jonathan ben Uzziel, began his Targum on
this passage of Isaiah: “Behold, my Servant, Messiah, shall prosper; He shall be high and
increase, and be exceeding strong.” In further commentary he refers all the statements in
the passage about the exaltation of the Servant as referring to the Messiah, and all those
statements that speak of the Servant’s suffering as referring to the nation of Israel.
Therefore, even at this early date he made application to both.
Rabbi Don Yitzchak Abardanel (about 1500) believed in the singular application
of the passage to Israel alone; nevertheless, he admits that the view of Jonathan ben
Uzziel “is also the opinion of our learned men in the majority of their Midrashim.”
Other examples can be given but these should suffice. It is clear therefore that,
historically and without prejudice, many Jewish interpreters in past times saw an
application of this passage of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 to the Messiah. Why then does the
modern Jewish interpreter become so zealous to avoid this application to the Messiah and
only emphasize the application to Israel? No doubt, the heart’s attitude is a determining
factor. This should remind us of the passage in Isaiah about the “Servant” that most
certainly does apply to Israel—Isaiah 42:18-20—
15
“Hear, you deaf;
And look, you blind, that you may see.
Who is blind as My Servant,
Or deaf as My messenger whom I send?
Who is blind as the chosen one,
Seeing many things, but you give no heed;
With the ears open, but he does not hear.”
My final prayer is that both Christians and Jews will open their spiritual eyes
(hearts) to see the beautiful truths that the inspired writer has given to his own people and
beyond them to all the world.

ISAIAH 52:13-53:12

by Jack W. Langford

Posted by dtbrents
You may want to get your Bible out and follow closely as we move through the
context of this passage of Scripture. As we did in Isaiah 7, let us also do as we approach
Isaiah 53, by noting the context in which the passage falls.
Please also remember that chapter and verse divisions were a later invention
intended to assist the reader. They are not a part of the original inspired text. Sometimes
they are, indeed, very helpful and yet other times they may cause some confusion. Most
Bible teachers will remind you of this fact. There really should not be one between Isaiah
52 and 53. Chapter 53, as most all expositors agree, should start at 52:13. Here is where
the subject of the “Suffering Servant” begins and most of our modern Bibles will indicate
this by some type of title caption at verse 13 of chapter 52.
“The Arm of The Lord” (Isa. 53:1)
In order to take a broader look at the setting for Isaiah 53, and in order to fully
comprehend the total picture of what is in view, we should follow the theme of Isaiah
53:1 backwards to its immediate source. Isaiah 53:1 is speaking of a message or report
concerning “The Arm of The Lord”—“to whom has the Arm of the Lord been revealed?”
What does this expression mean? The theme originates in chapter 51 and verse 5.
Between chapter 51 and chapter 53:1 the expression “The Arm of The Lord” will be used
four times. The words, “The Arm of The Lord,” are an anthropomorphic expression, as if
God, Himself, will come down with His muscular Arm and physically deliver Israel. It is
speaking about the salvation God provides in terms of God’s great strength or “Arm.”
This is a vivid expression because it is primarily speaking of Israel’s physical deliverance
from her enemies (see also—Deut. 4:34; 7:19; Ps. 44:3 & Isa. 63:12). In these passages
the salvation of Israel has to do with her great deliverance from the wrath of all nations
just prior to the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. Let us note, then, this whole
context where the “Arm of The Lord” (Israel’s salvation) is discussed in preparation for
understanding chapter 53.
Isaiah 51 begins by calling upon Israel to “listen” to God, and to “look” to Him
for its deliverance. Then in verses 4-6 we are introduced to the beginning of this theme of
Israel’s salvation. “My righteousness is near, My salvation has gone forth, and My Arms
will judge the peoples; The coastlands will wait upon Me, and on My Arm they trust…but
My salvation will be for ever…”
In verse 9 of this same chapter the cry for God’s Arm to “awaken” is made.
“Awake, awake, put on strength, O Arm of the Lord! Awake as in the ancient days.” As
God gave great physical deliverance to the people of Israel down in Egypt, even so will
He deliver Israel at this future time.
In verse 17 of this chapter we have important information about Israel’s very
pitiful condition as a result of drinking from the cup of God’s wrath. Now the call comes
for Israel to “awaken.” “Awake, awake! Stand up, O Jerusalem, You who have drunk at
the hand of the Lord the cup of His fury; You have drunk the dregs of the cup of
trembling and drained it out.” This “cup” of judgement testifies to some horrible
calamity that has befallen the people of Israel. This calamity was allowed under the
7
disciplinary judgment of God. The “cup” of wrath had come upon Israel in the form of
terrible affliction by the nations. During the Holocaust, Yitzhak Zuckerman, the Warsaw
Zionist wrote concerning the horrors they were experiencing in the Warsaw Ghetto
purges. In so doing he made reference to this passage in Isaiah 51:17, “that the poison
cup was not yet empty, and that we would have to drain it to its last dregs.” The text
speaks of the nations saying to Israel, “Lie down, that we may walk over you.” And
Israel had laid their bodies down as the very ground that the nations would trample upon.
In verses 21-23, God says He will now put this awful “cup” into the hands of Israel’s
enemies. This would mean that God will reverse the procedure. Instead of Israel being
trampled upon, God will now trample upon the nations.
Now chapter 52 begins, and verses 1-6 continue the theme. “Awake, awake! Put
on your strength, O Zion.” Here God tells Israel, “Shake yourselves from the dust…loose
yourselves from the bonds.” God traces the past history of Israel and says that as He
delivered them from Egypt so will He do in the future time of this prophetic deliverance.
Verses 7-12 now announce the great message of Israel’s salvation in that future
day when God will “bare His holy Arm.” This great salvation will be done before the
eyes of all the nations of earth (verse 10). In verses 11 and 12 God will go before and
behind Israel, as their guard and protector, just as He did when He brought them out of
Egyptian bondage. This, of course, is to be done at the coming of the Messiah Who will
deliver Israel and judge the nations in holy wrath.
Actually then, this is the setting for the “Suffering Servant” who will now be
viewed by the nations of earth. Chapter 52 and verse 13 begins the picture of this
“Suffering Servant” whom God has delivered. Now the nations of earth will look upon
Him in total surprise and shock. The Servant had been battered so severely and yet He
stands up for the time of deliverance. From this contextual perspective we realize that the
“Arm of The Lord, revealed” of Isaiah 53:1 is none other than the great salvation of
suffering Israel who will now be “greatly exalted.” All the nations of earth will look
upon this great “salvation” of the nation of Israel. Though Israel had been “trampled
upon” by the nations, and though Israel had “drunk the cup of God’s wrath”—yet now
Israel shall be greatly exalted.
“Behold, My Servant shall deal prudently” (Isa. 52:13).
Though I firmly believe that this passage of Scripture has a dual application, both
to Jesus Christ and also to the nation of Israel, yet now, for the sake of my Christian
brethren, I will emphasize and point out its application to Israel. In all cases where the
Servant is plainly identified, it is always identified as “Israel or Jacob.” Note the
following—
Isaiah 41:8,9, “But you, Israel, are My Servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen…You
Are My Servant…”
44:1,2, “Near now, O Jacob My Servant, and Israel whom I have chosen…
O Jacob My Servant…”
44:21, “Remember these, O Jacob, and Israel, for you are My Servant…
My Servant, O Israel…”
45:4, “For Jacob My Servant’s sake, and Israel My elect…”
8
48:20, “The Lord has redeemed His Servant Jacob!”
49:3, “You are My Servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified…”
These are not all the passages where the “Servant” is mentioned. However, I am
merely pointing out that where the Servant is identified it always refers to Israel as the
Servant (see also Jer. 30:10 and Ps. 136:22). In several of the passages that speak of the
Servant I am quite confident there is a double application to both Israel and the
Messiah—Isaiah 53 is one of them. It has been well known that in the Scriptures Israel is
likened to “the Servant of the Lord.” (Sometimes God makes reference to certain kings
as His servants as well.)
In returning to Isaiah 52 and verses 13-15, we see that the Servant, instead of
being “afflicted” (51:21) and trampled upon (51:23) by the nations, will now be “highly
exalted” (52:13). The nations of earth and their kings will be shocked at the sight of this
one who was so brutally marred (verse 14) that he hardly looks like a man—and yet he is
so greatly exalted. The text says—
“So shall He startle many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths at Him;
For what had not been told them they shall see, and what they had not heard
they shall consider” (52:15).
“Who could believe what we have heard? And to whom has the Arm of the
Lord been revealed?” (53:1).
Verse 1. This particular translation of verse one is important (see—Jewish Publication
Society translation; American Standard Version, margin; New English Bible; Jerusalem
Bible; Revised Standard version; New Revised standard Version; Rotherham’s Literal
Translation, etc.). This rendering makes two things more evident: first, it shows the
relationship with 52:15, “what they had not heard,” and this verse 1, “what we have
(now) heard (or our report);” and secondly, these two Hebrew words being closely
related indicate that the nations are now speaking and responding to what has been
revealed. They have seen “The Arm of the Lord revealed,” and that has reference to the
salvation of Israel. Remember that the “Arm of the Lord” here in this verse is the same as
in 51:5 & 9 and 52:10—which clearly has to do with the great physical salvation of Israel
by God. In this connection we can realize that the nations are going to be viewing a
nation that has suffered almost unbelievably.
Verse 2. They will view Him as a “tender plant or root out of a dry ground.” This can
be applicable to the Messiah—Isaiah 11:1. However, Israel was also spoken of as a
“root”—Isaiah 27:6; 37:31; Ps. 80:8-18 & Hosea 14:4-7.
Verse 3. “Despised and rejected [forsaken] by men.” Though this was true of Christ,
yet this was often specifically stated concerning the nation of Israel. Especially is this
true in the context of Isaiah—Isaiah 49:7, 14; 54:6,7; 60:14,15 & 62:4, 12.
Verse 4. “Stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.” Again, though this was true of
Christ, yet this is often stated specifically about Israel in the context of Isaiah—Isaiah
1:5; 27:7; 40:2; 49:13; 51:21 & 63:9.
Verses 5 & 6. “The Lord laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Surprising as it may be,
not only was the suffering of Christ vicarious, but in a sense the sufferings of Israel have
9
been vicarious as well. No one would argue (except a vicious anti-Semetic, like Adolf
Hitler) that those nations who both cooperated in and were directly responsible for the
murder of over six million Jews were not wicked and sinning against God in their
committing of the most heinous crime ever chronicled in the history of the humanities.
Historians themselves say that everything else, in the records of man’s inhumanity to
man, pales before the total story of the Holocaust. The Jews bore all this iniquity. This is
one sense in which Israel, as a Suffering Servant, bore the sins of the nations which
committed the crime and those which stood idly by in seeming indifference. In addition,
the nations which participated directly in that crime and others that stood idly by, actually
deserved by their very wickedness the punishment that the Jews took upon themselves. In
that sense the Jew bore what the nations deserved. Therefore, repentance towards Israel
and repentance towards the Messiah will be the basis for the social and the spiritual
redemption of the nations in the coming Kingdom of the Messiah. This is plainly spelled
out by Jesus Christ, Himself, as recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. Whereas the Messiah
suffered for the personal spiritual redemption of all mankind, yet Israel’s suffering is the
basis for the social redemption of the nations into the Millennial Kingdom.
Verse 7. “As a Lamb to the slaughter.” Not only was this true of Jesus Christ, but God
also likens Israel’s suffering with the very same language—see Ps. 44:11 & 22; Zech.
11:4 & 7. In addition, this exact phraseology was used repeatedly by observers during the
Holocaust. In fact, it was the most common expression made describing the Jews going
to their deportations, concentration camps and deaths.
Verse 8. Though it is true that Christ was “stricken” for the transgressions of Israel, and
for the world as well, yet it is noteworthy that the last phrase of this verse has the plural
“them” for this Servant. Literally translated—“…for the transgression of my people
was the stroke to them.” (See the Interlinear, Hebrew-English by Kohlenberger and the
Hebrew Dictionary by Alcalay.) “Them (plural),” meaning the people of Israel.
A secondary question arises in this verse—Who are the “my people” spoken of in
this verse? On the one hand, if the nations are still speaking, it refers to them. However,
the plural pronouns “we,” “our,” and “us all” stop at verse six. beginning at verse
seven it appears that Isaiah the prophet, himself, is speaking. If that is the case, then the
expression “my people” has reference to Isaiah’s own people—Israel. Whereas in verses
1-6, Israel suffers on behalf of the nations, yet now in verse 8 it becomes evident that it is
also because of their own “transgression” (singular) that the “stroke [came] to them.”
Verse 9. “They made His grave with the wicked, and with the rich in His death.” The
word “death” in this passage is also in the plural form. This is well-known by expositors,
and should be literally rendered “deaths.” Thus, we observe that the inspired writer
sometimes switches from the singular to the plural in describing both the Servant and His
experience. As applicable to Christ it would mean that He died both physically and
spiritually. As to the burial of Christ, we know that He was placed in a rich man’s tomb.
It is also a notable fact that in the Holocaust all the bodies of the victims were mingled
together at death; the rich and the poor, and those totally innocent people were often
indiscriminately mingled together with obvious criminals with no difference.
Verse 10. “He shall see His seed, he shall prolong His days.” When taken literally it
would have an obvious reference to the continued physical progeny of this Servant—
10
Israel. Otherwise, the expression “He shall prolong His days” certainly can have
reference to either the resurrection of the Messiah, or of the nation of Israel.
Verse 11. “My Righteous Servant shall justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities.”
Of course this is true of the Messiah Who provides for the spiritual soul salvation of
mankind, but it is also true that God’s promise to Israel was that eventually they would
become “priests” bearing and interceding on behalf of the world—see Exo. 19:5,6; Num.
18:1; Isa. 61:6; Zech. 8:13, 23 & Isa. 2:3.
Verse 12. “…and He shall divide the spoil.” This can be an allusion to the spiritual
rewards due to the magnificent victory of Messiah over evil (Eph. 4:8). In addition, the
continuing context of Isaiah shows unmistakably how great will be the treasures that God
will bestow upon and through His Servant, Israel—simply read Isaiah 54:1-56:8.
Chapter 54 of Isaiah continues the theme of Israel’s restoration and exaltation—
“For a mere moment I have forsaken you,
but with great mercies I will gather you.
With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment;
but with everlasting kindness I will have mercy upon you…”
—Isaiah 54:7 & 8
Thus, the whole context for this “Suffering Servant” passage is actually the final
restoration of the nation of Israel at the very beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. There
is indeed, therefore, an immediate, contextual application of this prophecy to be seen in
the nation of Israel just prior to and at the beginning of the future Kingdom Age. This
interpretation, as it applies to Israel, is in no way, shape or form a denial of the beautiful
spiritual truths of application to the substitutionary, sacrificial death of Jesus Christ for
the spiritual atonement of the sins of the world.

ISAIAH 53—A Double Fulfillment

Notes by Jack W. Langford,

Posted by dtbrents
INTRODUCTION
There are two difficulties which are nearly insurmountable when it comes to
discussing the 53rd Chapter of the book of Isaiah. The first difficulty is to be able to
convince the Jewish person that there is an application of this passage of Scripture to the
Messiah, and to Jesus of Nazareth in particular, as recorded in the four Gospels of the
New Testament. The second difficulty is to convince the Christian that the first and basic
interpretation of this passage belongs to the servant nation of Israel as found in the
immediate context of the book of Isaiah itself.
To the Christian, it is an incontestable fact that Isaiah the 53rd Chapter is a
remarkably clear picture of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, as God’s “Suffering
Servant,” who perfectly fits nearly every verse of that chapter. The Greek Scriptures,
called The New Testament, abound with quotations from Isaiah 53 which all make plain
applications to Jesus Christ. Thus, there is not the remotest problem in the minds and
hearts of Christians who point out the clear prophetic descriptions of Jesus as found
portrayed in Isaiah 53. It becomes obvious to Christians that the only reason the Jews
don’t see this application is because they don’t want to see it, and it would be a great
embarrassment were they to admit to that fact.
On the other hand, I remember that as a young Christian doing work in
evangelizing the Jewish people, I heard their argument that whenever the “Servant” of
Isaiah is identified (which is many times) He is always said to be the people of Israel. I
simply did not want to believe that either! However, as I checked this out, I found that
they were absolutely right! I also learned that some very notable scholars of the Christian
faith took the position that Isaiah 53 is immediately talking about the nation of Israel as
God’s “Suffering Servant.” Even then I passed it off as merely their “personal
interpretation.” It was many years before I gave serious consideration to this position. In
fact, it was not until I gave serious consideration to the reality and characteristics of the
Holocaust that there was a revival of my interest in the interpretation of Isaiah 53. In
light of a careful look at the Holocaust an application of Isaiah 53 to the Jewish people
was not only logical, but it seemed glaringly obvious! Only then was I ready to admit this
as a possibility. So then, when I studied the subject of prophetic applications more
carefully, with an open mindedness to that possibility, I saw that was, indeed, the truth.
Isaiah 53 really does have a basic interpretation for the nation of Israel! There is, in fact,
a double application of the passage prophetically. Furthermore, I was embarrassed that I
had not recognized this earlier.
A few years later, when I started writing that Isaiah 53 was, most certainly, an
immediate reference to Israel, one of my fellow ministers immediately branded this as
“blasphemy.” I was, further, reprimanded for such a conclusion. This serves to illustrate
the carnal attitude that many sincere Christians have toward this possibility. Sad to say,
though that brother was a very respected minister even in my eyes, yet he had not studied
2
prophecy enough to understand that many Scriptural prophecies have a double meaning
and fulfillment. Sometimes there is an immediate fulfillment and then a distant
fulfillment. On occasions there may be two distant fulfillments. Sometimes there is the
primary interpretation and then a secondary application to a given prophecy. Sometimes
the secondary application of a prophecy is so pronounced and beautiful that we tend to
lose sight of the primary interpretation. Such is the case in Isaiah 53.
In this particular Bible study I am endeavoring to show that there is, indeed, an
immediate interpretation of Isaiah 53 regarding the nation of Israel as God’s “Suffering
Servant.” This was to be fulfilled in the latter days, before Israel’s national restoration
into the promised Messianic Kingdom era. This fact is not imaginary, I can assure you. It
is just as real as the picture of Jesus Christ on the very same pages of Holy Writ is real.
Follow with me and I shall endeavor to demonstrate this for you.
ILLUSTRATIONS OF DOUBLE APPLICATIONS
Let us look at a few prophecies which have a double meaning or application to
them. These will illustrate for us what we will also see to be true in Isaiah 53.
A.) The first prophecy from the Hebrew Scriptures which is quoted in the Greek
Scriptures is found in Matthew chapter one, verses 22 and 23. This is a quote of the
famous Isaiah 7:14 passage—
“Now all of this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of
the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and
shall bring forth a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel…’”
Now I want to emphasize that I have no question whatsoever that this statement
from Isaiah 7:14 was meant to be a prophecy which has an application to be eventually
fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This is what Matthew is inspired to plainly state and I will
demonstrate why in a moment. However, this is actually not the first and primary
interpretation of this prophecy as found in the context of chapters 7 and 8 of Isaiah. When
one goes back to the actual context of this prophecy, he will find that it first of all,
definitely, has an immediate aim and fulfillment in the days of Isaiah, himself. Open your
Bible to the passage and read the following contextual consideration—
No.1 Isaiah 7:1-6. There was a serious problem in the days of King Ahaz
of Judah. The kings, Rezin of Syria and Pekah of the rebellious northern
tribes of Israel, were confederate in an attempt to eventually destroy
Jerusalem and Judah.
No.2 Isa. 7:7-9. God tells Isaiah to give a message of deliverance to King
Ahaz of Judah.
No.3 Isa. 7:10-11. In a further message through the prophet Isaiah, God tells
Ahaz to ask for a “sign” that this prophecy of deliverance will come to
pass as Isaiah predicted.
No.4 Isa. 7:12. Ahaz refused to ask for a “sign” saying he didn’t want to
test the Lord.
No.5 Isa. 7:13-17. Therefore, the Lord proceeds to give Ahaz a “sign” anyway.
Now the “sign” that God gives has several characteristics:
3
a.) First of all, the “sign” is to substantiate the original prophecy
of Judah’s deliverance from the confederacy of Rezin and Pekah.
Therefore, this is a “sign” that Ahaz must recognize and certainly
Ahaz did not live another six hundred years till the Messiah was
born in Bethlehem (vs. 7-9 & 16).
b.) A young “maiden” (literal translation, more about this later) will
bear a son and name him Emmanuel (v. 14).
c.) The “child” will have rich foods until he knows to refuse evil and
choose good (v. 15).
d.) But before the “child” is old enough to do this, the two kings that
Judah dreads will forsake their confederacy against Jerusalem
(v. 16).
e.) In addition, the Lord will bring the king of Assyria against all
the land (v. 17).
It becomes obvious on the face of the contextual consideration that there must be
an immediate fulfillment of this prophecy in Isaiah’s and Ahaz’s own day. And true
enough, as one keeps on reading, Isaiah and his own offspring were given as “signs” to
the nation—Isaiah 8:18. Isaiah fathers the child through the prophetess. She conceives
and gives birth to a son. Before the child is old enough to say “Mother or Daddy,” both
the kings who threatened Judah were driven away by the King of Assyria—Isaiah 8:1-4.
In addition, the people of Judah will cry “O Emmanuel,” which means “God is with
us”—Isaiah 8:8 & 10. Thus there is clearly an immediate fulfillment of this prophecy to
the Jewish people themselves at the very time of Isaiah and Ahaz.
In fact, this fulfillment has been used by critics of the Bible, and of the miraculous
birth of Christ, to vigorously argue there never was an intent in Isaiah to prophesy of the
future miraculous birth of the Messiah. They say that Matthew and others merely
generated and borrowed a passage that they could fit their religious ideas into at the time.
However, these infidels didn’t read close enough and, therefore, did not realize that there
was, indeed, a distant fulfillment intended by the Spirit of God.
There remain certain characteristics of that prophecy that are truly Messianic in
nature and were not fulfilled in Isaiah’s day. These characteristics leave the passage open
for a later fulfillment in Jesus Christ. This was intended by the Spirit of God who inspired
the prophet to write. Note the following three important factors that substantiate this—
No.1 First of all, the Hebrew word for “maiden or young woman” is “almah.”
Though this is not an exact Hebrew word for “virgin” (they say “b’thoolah”
is closer), nevertheless it is admitted that “almah” always implies a virgin
every time it is used—Gen. 24:43; Exo. 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Pro. 30:19; Song of
Sol. 1:3; 6:8 and Isa. 7:14. And so it is that the Jewish translators themselves
later translated it “virgin” when they made their famous Greek translation
of the Hebrew Scriptures called—the Septuagint. This was many years before
the birth of Jesus Christ.
No.2 Secondly, we are not told that Isaiah or the prophetess ever did actually
name their child “Emmanuel,” nor was that given as one of his names. In fact,
Isaiah named his son “Maher Shalal-Hash-Baz” (8:3), which means “the spoil
4
speeds, the prey hastens.” The Jewish people had simply and apparently
shouted “O Emmanuel” when they realized their deliverance—but this
was not the name of Isaiah’s son.
No.3 Thirdly, the original prophecy actually makes no mention of Isaiah
fathering the child. This fact ties this prophecy into the line of prophecies that
state or imply a miraculous birth for the Messianic Son—Gen. 3:15, “the Seed
of the woman will crush the serpent’s head;” Gen. 17:15-22 & 18:9-15, the
miraculous birth of Isaac, a figure of the Messiah; and Jer. 31:22, “The Lord
has created a new thing in the earth, a woman shall encompass (literally, the
alternate reading is the accurate translation in this text—“bring forth”) a man.”
In other words, a unique miracle will happen—a woman will miraculously
give birth to a man child.
Of course, Matthew is inspired to quote Isaiah 7:14 from the Greek Septuagint
translation of the Hebrew Scriptures which, as I said before, was made by the Jewish
scholars themselves, and this was long before Jesus was born. These translators used the
Greek word which is nearly always understood as “virgin.” Thus Matthew quotes the
passage accurately from the Septuagint and applies it accurately in the birth of Jesus of
Nazareth. There we have the intended long-range fulfillment of the passage in the
miraculous birth of Jesus Christ.
Now, no Christian should feel the need of rising up and saying, “One or the other
of these interpretations is true!” or “One or the other is false!” The fact is, both are true!
The immediate application is fulfilled in Isaiah’s own day whereas the long-range
application is fulfilled in the conception and birth of Jesus Christ.
B.) Another passage Matthew quotes, and says was fulfilled in Christ, is found in
Matthew 2:15—
“…[The Christ Child remained in Egypt until the death of Herod] that it might
be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, ‘Out of
Egypt have I called My Son.’”
This is a quotation from Hosea 11:1, which in turn is a reference to Exodus
4:22,23. In Hosea 11:1 the statement very obviously is made about “Israel” as God’s
son. That is what the text plainly says—“When Israel was a child I loved him, and out of
Egypt I called My son.” The passage in Exodus, from which this is taken, also refers to
the nation of Israel—“Israel is My son…let My son go…” Now, obviously, the first
interpretation of these words is to Israel. The text leaves us no choice in the matter.
How, then, can Matthew use these words as applicable to Jesus Christ? Very
simply—what happened to Israel as a nation is exactly what will happen to the Messiah
also! In fact, many Jewish writers of old plainly taught that the nation of Israel was a
type or figure of the Messiah! That, of course, is true. Thus, the Spirit of God moved
Matthew to make another application of these words to the Messiah, Jesus Christ,
because that is exactly what happened to Him, for He was likewise “called out of Egypt.”
This amounts to a prophecy in typology, and there are many such in the Bible.
Sometimes prophecies by typology are strikingly more profound than direct prophecies.
5
At the conclusion of this study we will note that early Jewish teachers observed
the principle that Israel was a type or figure of the Messiah; what would sometimes
happen to Israel, would also happen to the Messiah Who was to come. In fact, we shall
see that some early Jewish interpreters even applied this principle to Isaiah 53. So, once
again, we see a double application of a text of Scripture—first to Israel, and then to the
Messiah, Himself.
C.) In some Bible prophecies there are actually two long-range fulfillments. The next
illustration we will look at is from Matthew 3, verse 3. Matthew quotes again from
Isaiah, this time from Isaiah 40 verse 3, and applies it to John the Baptist, who was the
forerunner of Jesus Christ.
“For this [John the Baptist] is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah
saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “prepare the way of the
Lord, make His paths straight,”’”
Since John the Baptist was preaching out in the wilderness and preparing the way
for Jesus Christ, there was a clear fulfillment of this prophecy in the person of John the
Baptist. In this connection, an angel had said to John’s father, Zacharias, that John would
“go before Him [Christ] in the spirit and power of Elijah” (Luke 1:17). In addition, later
Christ said that “if they [Israel] were to receive it—this is he [Elijah] that was to come”
(Matt. 11:14). Thus, the prophecy in Isaiah about the Messiah’s forerunner is
conditionally fulfilled in the life and ministry of John the Baptist.
But, is this the only fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah of the forerunner to the
Messiah? No, it is not! Christ made it clear that the nation of Israel, at that time, did not
receive it. The leadership of Israel did not “receive it” concerning John the Baptist and
they also rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Therefore, Christ also taught that Elijah
will yet come in the future—“Elijah truly is coming first and will restore all things!”
(Matt. 17:11). So there are, in fact, two fulfillments regarding the prophet who will come
to “prepare the way of the Lord.” The first was John the Baptist who was rejected (Matt.
17:12). The second will be Elijah, who will come in the midst of the Great Tribulation,
just before the second coming of Christ to reign on earth. At that time Elijah will
successfully restore man’s proper consciousness in preparation for Messiah (see—Mal.
3:1,2; 4:5,6 & Isa. 40:3-11).
Therefore, there are two long-range fulfillments of Isaiah 40 according to the
Greek New Testament Scriptures. Many teachers have observed this principle of a double
fulfillment of certain Biblical prophecies. I have heard it called “the law of double
reference.” There are other examples that could be given, but this should serve to
demonstrate the principle concerning certain prophecies of the Hebrew Scriptures. This is
what we are to understand about the prophecy of Isaiah 53—there are two long-range
fulfillments inherent in this prophecy—one to Israel and one to the Messiah. I will now
endeavor to prove that.

 

God will yet choose Israel

By Matthew McGee

Posted by dtbrents

Isaiah 14:1 says, “For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob.

Many denominations hold to the view that God has forsaken the nation of Israel forever. They feel that because Israel crucified their Messiah, Jesus Christ, that God has taken away the promises He made to Israel, and has applied those promises to the present day predominantly Gentile church. However, we must not put “what we feel” above what God’s Word actually says. In this article, we will examine the following three statements:

1. God made an unconditional everlasting covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

2. According to Bible prophecy, Israel will be back in their own land and will be the central focus in the end times.

3. God revealed the mystery of Israel’s temporary fall to the Apostle Paul.

God’s Unconditional Everlasting Covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

God made unconditional promises to Abraham (originally named Abram) that were not dependent upon any action of Abraham or his descendants. In Genesis 12:3, God told Abram, “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse them that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” At that time, Abram was 75 years old, and he and his wife, Sarai (later named Sarah), had no children.

Abram was also promised a vast amount of land in Genesis 15:18, “… the LORD (Jehovah) made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates ….” This includes the land where Israel now exists plus a considerable amount of additional middle eastern land.

After more than ten years had passed, Abram and Sarai were still childless. They were growing impatient, and their faith that God would fulfill His promise was weak. So Sarai convinced Abram to have a son by her handmaid, Hagar, and they named the boy Ishmael.

Then about 14 years later, God appeared to Abram. The “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7) is for Abraham and his seed after him: “… all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). The covenant was later passed down to Isaac. Genesis 17:18-21 says, “And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. But my covenant will I establish with Isaac, which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year.” So God’s covenant with Abraham passed on to Isaac, but not to Ishmael.

Isaac was the child of God’s promise, but Ishmael had been born as a result of Abram and Sarai’s lack of faith. So in the eyes of God, Abraham only had one son. We know this because God told Abraham in Genesis 22:2, “… Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Ultimately God spared Isaac’s life, but Abraham passed this test of faith by trusting God and being willing to do as He said.

This covenant was once again confirmed to Isaac in Genesis 26:3-4, “… unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father; And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed ….

When Isaac blessed Jacob in Genesis 27:29 he said, “cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee.

God also confirmed His covenant to Jacob in Genesis 28:13-15 saying, “… I am the LORD (Jehovah) God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed; And thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth, and thou shalt spread abroad to the west, and to the east, and to the north, and to the south: and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. And, behold, I am with thee, and will keep thee in all places whither thou goest, and will bring thee again unto this land; for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of.” God confirmed His covenant with Jacob again in Genesis 35:11-12.

Israel will be the Focus of the End Times

Another reason that we know that God has not forsaken Israel forever is the prominence Israel has in the end time prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled. The Old Testament is rich with prophecies of end time events. All of the prophecies and visions were given to Hebrew prophets, and most of the events take place in, or are centered around the nation of Israel. Here are four examples:

1. The abomination of desolation will take place in the temple which will be rebuilt in Jerusalem (Daniel 9:27 and Matthew 24:15).

2. The battle of Armageddon will take place in the Valley of Megiddo in Israel, where all nations will come to fight against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2-3 and Revelation 16:13-16).

3. When Jesus Christ returns to the earth, He will come down to the Mount of Olives, just east of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4 and Acts 1:9-11).

4. In the millenial kingdom, all nations will be required to come to Jerusalem to worship Jesus Christ the King and to keep the feast of tabernacles (Zechariah 14:16).

There are also end time prophecies recorded in the New Testament which show the prominence of Israel. Here are four examples:

1. In the book of Revelation, our Lord Jesus Christ confirmed through the Apostle John that during the tribulation, 12,000 young men will be chosen from each of the 12 tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4-8).

2. The division between the people of Israel and the Gentiles is quite evident in Revelation 11:1-2 which says, “And there was given me a reed like unto a rod: and the angel stood, saying, Rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein. But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles ….” Under the law of Moses, Gentiles were not permitted inside the temple. This passage reveals that this will once again be the case during the future seventieth week of Daniel’s prophecy, which is commonly referred to as the tribulation.

3. Chapter 12 of Revelation tells how the remnant of Israel will be chased into the wilderness by Satan and his armies where they must remain protected by God for the final three and a half years, commonly referred to as the great tribulation (Revelation 12:6 and 17).

4. Finally, Revelation 21:12 says the new Jerusalem will have “… a wall great and high, and had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel ….

We know from the scriptures and from history that many prophecies about Israel have already been fulfilled, and that God, sooner or later, always fulfills His prophecies. In addition to the prophecies above, there are many other great prophecies about the prominence of Israel that have never been fulfilled. So this can only mean that they are yet going to take place. Zechariah 8:22-23 says, “Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the Lord … In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

The Mystery of Israel’s Temporary Fall

Perhaps the greatest reason that we know that God will one day bring the nation of Israel back into prominence is provided by our apostle Paul in Romans chapter 11. He explains God’s plan “to provoke them (Israel) to jealousy” (v.11), adding “… if the fall of them be the riches of the world … how much more their fulness?” (Romans 11:12). Through the temporary setting aside of Israel, God brought salvation to the Gentiles. But when Israel is returned to that place of prominence in fulfillment of the Bible prophecies, even more Gentiles will be saved as a result.

Paul reveals the mystery of Israel’s temporary blindness in Romans 11:25-29 “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion a Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob (the unbelieving portion of Israel): For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching election, they are beloved for the fathers’ (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) sakes. For the gifts of God are without repentance.” When God made His promises to the nation of Israel, He already knew all the wrong that they would do, including crucifying their Messiah, but He still did not add any conditions to the promises. Despite all of this, God will still fulfill all of the promises which He made to the nation of Israel in both the Old and New Testaments. The Almighty God is a God of His Word.

For more information on the ancient history of the tribes of Israel, their future as outlined in Bible prophecy, and their more recent history, see the article The Tribes of Israel.

THE SEVEN CHURCHES

an excerpt from

H. A. Ironside’s

commentary on Revelation

 

 

LECTURE III

 

THE SEVEN  CHURCHES

 

(Chapter 2)

 

We now turn to the letters addressed to the first four churches, as found  in chapter 2.  In the last address I  tried to make it clear that the key to the structure of the book is the 19th  verse of the first chapter.  We have  already been occupied with the things which the apostle John had seen — that  is, the first vision of the book, where he beheld the glorified Lord in the  midst of the lampstands, as set forth on the chart. The third division is clearly indicated in the opening words of chapter  4, where in the Revised Version we read, “After these things I looked,  and behold, a door was opened in heaven.” Necessarily then, the second division must take in simply what we have in  chapters 2 and 3 — “the things which are” (present, continuous tense) — the  things which are now in progress; and this is the only part of the Apocalypse  that has to do specifically with the present, the church period, though it is  all written for our instruction, our warning, and our encouragement.

In fact, I believe that the real value of the Revelation consists in  this: that it gives us the full-grown trees which we now see as developing  saplings.  We need this book in  order to judge aright the various movements that are now going on. For myself, I am sure that if I did not know something of the teaching of  this book, I would long since have been identified with many movements which I  have come absolutely to distrust, because I believe I can see, by a careful  study of the Apocalypse, what the end of them will be.

Let me illustrate:  Someone  asks concerning the so-called “Church Federation scheme.” Wouldn’t it be a wonderful thing if all the churches united? If we simply had one great organization, wouldn’t it be grand? All could agree to accept a common creed so worded that everyone could  subscribe to it, and so the shame of Christendom’s divisions be at an end. Now, why not go in for something like that? Would not this be the fulfillment of the prayer of our Lord, “that they  all may be one?”  Well, I might be  caught by such a proposal, but I turn to the Book of Revelation and I learn that  just such a religious federation is going to arise after the church of God has  been caught away to be with the Lord Jesus Christ; and it is designated in the  17th chapter as “Babylon the Great.” This will be the big world-church. The present movement is just a preparation for this, and when I have the  light from heaven shining upon it in the Book of the Revelation, I say, that if  that is the way it is going to end, the thing to do is to have no part in it  now.  Separation from evil — not  fusion of diverse systems — is the divine order: and so we see that the  prophetic book throws the light of the future upon events and movements that are  in progress at present, in order that we may take warning and be preserved from  that which is contrary to the mind of God.

Before we begin our study of “The Things which are,” let me give you this  parable.  Sometime ago, rummaging  through an old castle, some people came across a very strange-looking old lock  which secured a stout door.  They  shook the door and tried to open it, but to no avail. They tried one way and another to move the lock, but could not turn it. By and by somebody picked up a bunch of old keys from some rubbish on the  floor and he said, “Maybe I can unlock it.” He tried one key and it made no impression. He tried another and it gave a little; another and it gave a little more;  and so on, but none would open the lock. At last he came to a peculiar old key. He slipped it into the lock, gave it a turn, and the lock was open. They said, “Undoubtedly this key was meant for this lock.”

You will understand my parable if I draw your attention to the fact that,  in the 20th verse of the 1st chapter, we are told that there was a mystery  connected with the seven lampstands. The seven lampstands are said to symbolize the seven churches of Asia,  but there was a mystery connected with them. While some have tried one key and some have tried another (and there have  been all kinds of efforts made to interpret this mystery), no solution was found  until some devout students of Scripture weighing this portion said, “Might it  not be that inasmuch as this section of the book presents ‘the things which  are,’ God has been pleased to give us here a prophetic history of the church for  the entire dispensation?”  But would  the key fit the lock?  They compared  the first part of the church’s history with the letter to Ephesus. Here it fitted perfectly.  They went on and compared the letter to Smyrna with the second part of the  church’s history, and the agreement was most marked. They went on right down to the end, and when they came to Laodicea they  found that what is written to the church of Laodicea answers exactly to the  condition of the professing church in the days in which we live, and they said: “There, the mystery is all clear.  The lock has been opened; therefore we have the right key.”

For myself, I have no question that this was in very truth the mind of  the Lord in sending these letters to the seven churches. Seven churches were chosen because seven in Scripture is the number of  perfection; and you have only to read these seven letters, then take any good,  reliable church history and see for yourself how perfectly the key fits the  lock.

The very names are significant. It would be impossible to reverse any of these names. If the order were changed they would not apply. Take the first one.  Ephesus  means “desirable,” such a term as a Greek applied to the maiden of his choice. Ephesus gives us a picture of the Church as it was in the beginning, when  the Lord held the stars (His servants) in His hand, and controlled their  ministry.  He sent them here and  there, just as He would, to proclaim the glad gospel of His grace and to  minister to His saints.  But human  systems have largely changed all that. He walked in the midst of His churches. His eyes were upon everything, and He was there to admonish, to correct,  and to control.  Observe that in the  beginning His Name was the only centre, and unto Him was the gathering of His  saints.  Read the second and third  verses:

 

“I know thy works and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst  not bear them which are evil: and though hast tried them which say they are  apostles, and are not and hast found them liars: and hast borne, and hast  patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.”

 

The early church was walking in separation from the world. The Greek word ecclesia, translated “church” in our Bibles, means  a called-out company.  This is God’s  ideal, and every effort to amalgamate the church and the world is opposed to His  mind and must end in confusion, for the church will never convert the world in  the present dispensation.  Someone  asked Dr. A.T. Pierson, on one occasion, “Don’t you really think that the world  is getting converted already?”  “Well,” he said, “I admit that the world has become a little churchy, but the  church has become immensely worldly.” If it were possible that the church could convert the world, that would  be the end of the church.  What do I  mean?  Simply this, that the church  is a called-out company, and if the world were converted, there would not  be anything else left out of which to call the church.

Believers, in the days of Ephesus, could not bear those who were evil. In our day, discipline in the church is almost at an end. In many quarters, anyone is welcome to full participation in all  church-privileges, particularly if they have a good bank account; but in the  beginning it was very different.  That little Ephesian assembly said, “We don’t want growth at the expense of  holiness.”  More than that, they  were loyal to the truth.  They tried  those who claimed to be apostles, and if they found they were deceivers they  refused them as liars, instead of saying, “Oh well, you know Dr. So-and-so comes  with such good recommendations, he is such a lovely man and so cultured, and  though he doesn’t happen to believe in the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, or  His atonement, etc., still he has so many good qualities that we mustn’t be hard  on him.”  The early church would  have said, “Are you a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ?” and put a few serious  questions to him.  If he was not  what he professed to be, they soon unmasked him and refused his ministrations. But in these days teachers can deny almost any truth of Scripture, and  the professing church never knows the difference. Oh, for more of the zeal and piety of early days!

In verse three we learn that these saints were suffering for the Name’s  sake of the Lord Jesus.  It was not  suffering for the name of any denomination, nor yet for some special theories or  usages.  It was suffering for  Christ’s sake.  For His Name’s sake  they bore trial and endured persecution.

And yet, even then, we have the evidence of early decline. Fourth verse:  “But I have  against thee that thou hast left thy first love.” They had left their first love. The heart was drifting away from Christ. The decline that began in these first days of the church has continued. There has been no corporate recovery. That spirit of declension has gone on increasing until the present  Laodicean days.

In the next letter we see that the Lord, whose love never changes,  permitted something to take place to arouse His people from their lethargy.

 

“And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the  first and the last, which was dead, and is alive; I know thy works, and  tribulation, and poverty (but thou art rich), and I know the blasphemy of them  which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.”

 

Smyrna means myrrh.  It is  frequently mentioned in Scripture in connection with the embalming of the dead. Myrrh had to be crushed in order to give out its fragrance. This sets forth the period when the church was crushed beneath the iron  heel of pagan Rome, yet it never gave out such sweet fragrance to God as in  those two centuries of almost constant martyrdom.

“These things saith the first and the last, which was dead and is alive.” What a blessed thing to know that the children of God are linked up with  a resurrected Christ!  The power of  His resurrection works in them.  He  says, “I know thy works and tribulation and poverty, but thou art rich.” This was the day when the church was hated, outlawed and persecuted. Instead of worshiping in magnificent buildings, they gathered together in  caves, catacombs and other hidden places, with sentries posted to warn them of  the approach of their foes.  Despised by the world, condemned as enemies of the Empire because of their faith  in and loyalty to Christ, their lives were precious to God. They were in His eyes rich.  They were poor in this world’s goods, but rich in faith.

But even then, all was not perfection; so He says, “I know the blasphemy  of them which say they are Jews and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan” — referring to the Judaizing movement that came into the church in the early  centuries.  It was the leaven of  Galatianism which had never been wholly judges, and which made astonishing  progress in the second and third centuries. He says, “Fear not . . . thou shalt have tribulation ten days.” It is significant that in the two centuries of Roman persecution, which  began with Nero and which terminated 312 A.D., there were ten distinct edicts  demanding that governors seek out Christians everywhere and put them to death. The last was under Diocletian. He was the tenth persecutor.  The early Christians believed he would be the last, and he was. “The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church,” said Augustine. The testimony of the dying again and again led their very persecutors to  receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior because of the convincing power of  the truth manifested in the martyrs. Satan’s effort to destroy Christianity by persecution was in vain. But those were days when it meant something to be a Christian. When God’s people were being crushed like myrrh, what a sweet odor of  devotion, what fragrance of Christian love was wafted up to the very throne of  God!

 

Pergamos has two meanings.  It means “marriage,” and “elevation.” It speaks of the time when the church was elevated to a place of power,  and was married to the world.  It  depicts the time when church and state were united, under Constantine and his  successors.

Read the 12th and 13th verses:

 

“And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he  which hath the sharp sword with two edges; I know thy works and where thou  dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast  not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr,  who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.”

 

The Lord Jesus judges everything by the Word. The word that He spoke will judge the men in the last day.  If you reject it now  it will judge you then.  “I  know where thou dwellest,” He says, even on “Satan’s throne.” What was Satan’s throne?  If  you had asked any of the Smyrna believers, they would have pointed you to the  Emperor’s throne in Rome.  In  Pergamos you find the very church of God sitting upon the imperial throne. How did that happen?  Those  of you who are familiar with Roman history and church tradition will recall that  after the death of Diocletian and Galerius, Constantine and Maxentius contended  for the throne.  Constantine is said  to have seen a vision of a cross of fire and to have heard a voice saying, “In  this sign, conquer.”  He wondered  what the vision could mean.  He was  told that the cross was the sign of the Christian religion, and that it must  mean that the God of the Christians was calling him to be the champion of the  Christian religion; that if he obeyed the voice he would be victor over the  hosts of Maxentius and become emperor of the world. He called for Christian bishops and asked them to explain their religion  to him.  He accepted the new  doctrine and declared himself to be its God-appointed patron and protector. Some writers make a great deal of this so-called conversion of  Constantine, but it is questionable if he ever became a child of God by faith in  Christ Jesus.  He won a great  victory over his opponent and thus became emperor of the world, and one of his  first acts was to liberate the Christians and to stop all persecution. He bestowed unwonted honors on the bishops; they sat on thrones with the  nobles of the empire.

It was at this time that the truth of the second coming of Christ was  given up.  Before the days of  Constantine the church was looking for Him. That was their expectation and hope. But after the great change in their circumstances, this truth was largely  lost sight of.  Christian bishops  said, “We have been looking for Christ’s reign but we have been wrong. Constantine’s empire in Christ’s kingdom.” They thought the church was already reigning; so it went on until the  days of the Reformation, when the light began to dawn again.

But now note a most interesting thing: At the very time that the Lord said, “I know where thou dwellest, even  where Satan’s seat (or throne) is,” He goes on to say, “Thou holdest fast my  Name, and hast not denied my faith,” etc. Here  is something very remarkable.  At  the same time that Christ sees them sitting on Satan’s throne, He can yet  commend them for holding fast His Name.

It was at that time that the Arian controversy was fought out. Arius denied the eternity of the Word. John says, “In the beginning was the Word” — He always existed. When everything that had a beginning began, the Word was. Arius declared that the Word was the greatest of all beings that ever  emanated from God.  His opponents  insisted that the Word was one with the Father, in one eternal Trinity — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: one God in three Persons. It was the most tremendous issue the church had ever been called to face,  and, for over a century, it was the burning question that provoked heated  controversy everywhere.  For years  the church was almost rent asunder over two words, “homoiosian” and  “homoousian.” The one word meant “of like substance,” the other “of the samesubstance.”  The first was the  battle-cry of the Arians; the second of the orthodox, headed by Athanasius,  Bishop of Alexandria.  So  irreconcilable were the contending parties that Constantine at last decided to  take a hand in the matter himself, and he called a great church-council, which  convened in the city of Nicea, and there debated the question as to what the  apostolic teaching really had been.  Was Jesus truly God, or was He only the greatest being that God has every  brought into existence?  Over three  hundred bishops met together, and Constantine, sitting on a golden throne,  presided as the acknowledged head of the Christian church, at the very time that  he still bore the title Pontifex Maximus, or High Priest of the Heathen — the  same title that the Pope bears at the present time.

The matter in question was examined from all sides. Again and again Constantine was called in to quell disturbances; feelings  ran so high.  On one occasion it is  related that a brilliant Arian seemed to have almost silenced opposition, and  the great assemblage appeared to be about to cast its vote in favor of the  damnable unitarian heresy, when a hermit from the deserts of Africa sprang to  his feet, clad chiefly in tiger’s skin. This latter he tore from his back, disclosing great scars (the result of  having been thrown into the arena among the wild beasts, and his back dreadfully  disfigured by their claws), crying dramatically, “These are the brand-marks of  the Lord Jesus Christ, and I cannot hear this blasphemy.” Then he proceeded to give so stirring an address, setting forth so  clearly the truth as to Christ’s eternal deity, that the majority of the council  realized in a moment that it was indeed the voice of the Spirit of God. Whether this story be actually true or not I cannot say, but it well sets  forth the spirit pervading many who were in attendance, most of whom had passed  through the terrible persecution of Diocletian. The final result was that the council of Nicea put itself on record as  confessing the true deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, “Very God and Very God,”  “Light of Lights,” “perfection of perfection” — God and man in one blessed  Person, nevermore to be separated.  Thus was settled once and forever, in a public way, the acknowledged faith of  the church of God, which held fast His Word, and did not deny His Name.

Did you ever stop to think what would have been the case if the council  had decided the other way?  It would  have meant: Unitarianism would have henceforth borne the stamp of orthodoxy, and  the truth of the deity of Christ would have been branded as heresy.

We have no record as to who the Antipas was referred to in the latter  part of the verses above quoted, but it is singular that the word means “against  all.”  Many years after the council  of Nicea, when the Arian party were again largely in the ascendency, Athanasius,  that doughty old champion of the truth, was summoned before the Arian emperor  Theodosius, who demanded that he cease his opposition to the teaching of Arius — who by the way, was long since dead — and admit the Arians to the table of  this Lord.  This Athanasius refused. Theodosius reproved him bitterly for what he considered his insubject  spirit, and asked sternly, “Do you not realize that all the world is against  you?”  The champion of the truth  drew himself up and answered the emperor, “Then I am against all the world.” He was a true Antipas, a faithful witness to the end of his days, despite  banishment and opposition of various kinds.

Oh, my brethren, God wants to-day, just such men, men of God, who, for  the truth’s sake, are willing to stand, if need be, against all the world!

We now turn to consider another phase of things in the Pergamos period — the introduction of the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes in the church. Balaam taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel  by leading them to make unholy alliances with the Midianitish women, as recorded  in Numbers 25:1-9.  In figure this  is the union of the church and the world. During the Smyrna period, Satan sought to destroy the church by  persecution.  In the next three  centuries he tried different tactics: he endeavored to ruin the testimony by  worldly patronage from without, and the introduction of false principles from  within.  You know it is far more  dangerous for the church to be patronised by the world than when the world is  openly arrayed against it.  Take any  of the different denominations in Christendom. When were they shining most brightly for the Lord? It was in the days of their first love, when they were suffering from the  world and were the object of its better persecution. But when those had passed, when the period of persecution ended and the  world began to look upon them with complacency, to greet them with the  outstretched hand and the smiling face, instead of with the sword and the frown,  in every instance decline set in.  So it was in the Pergamos period.  Constantine’s patronage did what Diocletian’s persecution could not do. It corrupted the church, and she forgot her calling as a chaste virgin  espoused to an absent Lord; then she gave her hand in marriage to the world that  had crucified Him, thus entering into an unholy alliance of which she has never  really repented.

In close connection with this we have the introduction of wrong  principles within — the teaching of the Nicolaitanes. Others have often pointed out that this is an untranslated Greek word  meaning, “Rulers over the people.”  Nicolaitanism is really clerisy — the subjugation of those who were  contemptuously styled “the laity” by a hierarchical order who lorded it over  them as their own possessions, forgetting that it is written, “One is you  Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren.” In the letter to Ephesus the Lord commended them for hating the deeds of  the Nicolaitanes, those who, like Diotrephes, loved to have the preeminence  among them.  But, in the Pergamos  letter, we have Nicolaitanism designated as a distinct system of teaching. It was then that clerisy was accepted as of divine origin, and therefore  something that must be bowed to.

 

All this prepared the way for the Thyatira period, according to the  letter that follows.

I have already tried to point out that every one of these names seems to  be significant.  Thyatira is perhaps  the most difficult of all to define. Scholars tell us that it comes from two words, one meaning a sacrifice,  or an incense-offering; the other, that which goes on continually. A suggested interpretation, therefore, is “continual sacrifice.” And this is very significant, because Thyatira undoubtedly sets forth the period which was the result of the union of church and  State, already noticed.  It was in  the 7th century that the Bishop of Rome was first regularly recognized as  Christ’s vicegerent, and visible head of the church. This was, properly speaking, the beginning of the papacy. There was no Roman Catholic church, in the full sense, until the Pope was  the acknowledged head of Christendom. It is important for Protestants to keep this in mind. You will often hear papists say, “You know the first church was the Roman  Catholic church, and all the different branches of the Protestant church have  simply broken off from Rome.  There  was no Protestant church until the days of Luther.” That is an absolute sophistry. There was no such thing as the papacy until the 7th century of the  Christian era.  For six centuries  before that, the church was becoming more and more corrupt — had been drifting  further away from the Word of God until, in the 7th century men professing  themselves to be servants of God were ready to acknowledge the Pope as head of  all Christendom.  A Roman Catholic  once asked a bright Protestant school-girl, “Where was your church before the  days of Henry VIII?”  “Why, sir,  where yours never was, in the Bible,” was her sensible and correct reply. It is a far cry from the simplicity of early Christians, when in the 7th  century they were ready to own the pretensions of the bishop of Rome.

I said that Thyatira seemed to imply a continual sacrifice. You will see the significance of this in the great fundamental error of  the church of Rome — the sacrifice of the mass. The Roman Catholic priests declare that, in the mass, they offer a  continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead. There are many things that Protestants might be able to condone. This is the central, the root, blasphemy — the denial of the finishedwork of the Lord Jesus on Calvary’s cross — the one, only and all  sufficient offering for the sins of a guilty world. Every time the priest stands at Rome’s altar to offer the sacrifice of  the mass, he denies the unchanging efficacy of the work wrought by the Lord  Jesus on Calvary’s cross.

I have often pressed this question home to Catholic priests: “What is your function as a sacrificing priest?” They say, “It is my privilege to offer up the Lord Jesus from time to  time a continual sacrifice for the sins of the living and the dead.” I generally put it like this: “Well, Christ has to be slain that He may be offered up; doesn’t He?” — “Yes.”  “You claim then that every  time you pronounce the blessing, you are sacrificing Christ for the sins of the  living and the dead?” — “Yes.”  “Well then, you kill Christ afresh every time you offer that sacrifice!” Then they begin to hedge.  But there is no escape from the horrible conclusion. The Roman priest says that when he offers the sacrifice of the mass he is  presenting Christ again for the sins of the living and the dead. And the only way the Christ can be a sacrifice is to be put to death;  therefore, the priest kills Him afresh every time he offers. They cannot get away from it. The apostle Peter said at Pentecost, “Him, being delivered by the  determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands  have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, etc.” If Christ has to be offered continually, then every priest is guilty of  murdering the Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God.

God is going to judge Rome in a little while: so Christ’s letter to  Thyatira properly speaks of this central blasphemy of the church of Rome. Continual sacrifice?  Never! No other sacrifice is needed. The dignity of the Lord is so great, the value of His blood is so  absolutely infinite, that it is vain for you or any other man to speak about a  new sacrifice.

You may say, “I agree with you, sir.” Well; now let me ask, How you a personal interest in that one  offering made once upon the cross?  Can you say, “Thank God, He gave Himself a propitiation for my sins, and He is  my Saviour.  I need no other  sacrifice.  My soul is resting on  the finished work of Christ.  I  require nothing more on which to enter the presence of God.”

But let us turn to the Lord’s address to Thyatira:

 

“And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These things saith  the Son of God, who hath eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like  fine brass.”

It is very significant the way the Lord presents Himself in each one of these  letters, so as to meet the special condition in which the church is found. When He addresses Himself to the church of Thyatira, He speaks solemnly  as “the Son of God.”  Why does the  Lord Jesus Christ emphasize the fact of His deity here? Because Rome everywhere has accustomed people to think of Him as the Son  of Mary.  I once talked with a woman who told me she would sooner go to Mary than to Christ or the Father. She said, “There is nobody that has so much influence with a son as his  mother, and if Jesus Christ is inclined to be a bit hard-hearted, I just go to  His good, kind mother, and I ask her to please say a good word to Him for me.” What a caricature of our Lord Jesus Christ! Think of having to go to anybody else to win His favor. Who else could be compared with Him? Thus Christ is degraded into the position of the Son of Mary, rather than  the Son of God, who came in infinite grace to save poor sinners.

But, observe, He has “eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are  like fine brass.”  This speaks of  His holiness and righteousness.  He  must judge all that is evil.  And  yet He never overlooks what can be commended. He goes on to say,

 

“I know thy works,  and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works: and the  last to be more than the first.”

 

The Lord gives Rome credit for a great deal that is good. Remember from the 7th century on to the present time there has been a  great deal in the way of good works in the Roman Catholic church that cannot be  overlooked.  There have been Roman  Catholic nuns and monks who have been ready to lay down their lives for the  needy and the sick.  There were  centuries before Luther when every hospital in Western Europe was simply a Roman  Catholic monastery or convent.  The  Lord does not forget all that.  Where there is a bit of faith, His love takes note of it all. If there are hearts in the Church of Rome that, amid the superstition,  reach out to the blessed Lord Himself, He meets them in grace and manifests His  love to them.  But having done this,  He then puts His finger on the sore spot:

 

“Notwithstanding, I  have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which  calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit  fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.”

 

To understand this well, we need to go back to Israel’s history in the  days of King Ahab.  Jezebel was an  adept in the art of mixing.  She  undertook to unite in one the religion of Israel and the religion of Phoenicia. That is just what Romanism is — a mixture of Heathenism and Christianity  and Judaism.  It is not Christianity — yet there is in it quite a little that is Christian. Where did its superstition and image worship come from? It was all taken bodily over from heathenism, under the plea that it  would help to convert the pagans.  The church became very accommodating. In the 4th, 5th and 6th centuries you find the church compromising with  heathen rites and heathen ceremonies to such a degree that, by the 7th century,  one could hardly tell heathen from Christian temples. The amalgamation is such that it is almost impossible to separate the one  from the other.  Go to a Roman  Catholic church, and, after sitting through the whole ceremony, take you Bible  and search it from one end to the other, and ask yourself, “Is there anything  like that in the Book?”  You will  say, “No.”  Where does it come from  then?  Go from there to a heathen  temple.  Observe its ritual, and you  will say, “Yes, they are the same.”

Romanism is Christianity, Judaism, and Heathenism joined together; and  the Lord abhors the vile combination. Note two things that He hold against Rome — spiritual fornication and  idolatry.  The first is the union of  the church and the world: and “the friendship of the world is enmity against  God.”  Idolatry is the worship of  images, strictly forbidden in the second commandment (Ex. 20:4,5). God gave her space to repent and she repented not. Go back to the days of Savonarola in Italy, Wickliffe and Cranmer of  England, John Knox in Scotland, Martin Luther in Germany, Zwingle in  Switzerland, Calvin in France — all those mighty reformers whom God raised up  throughout the world to call Rome to repent of her iniquity, but “she repented  not.”

Mark this, you could not transpose these churches. You could not put Thyatira in the place of Smyrna. it could not be said to the church in that early day, “I gave her space  to repent, and she repented not;” but it is fully applicable to the Church of  Rome.  And, in our day, we have a  lot of foolish Protestants who believe that the old Rome is now a harmless old  pussy-cat sitting on the banks of the Tiber: she purrs so contentedly. They say, “We never understood Rome. What a pity we ever had that Reformation at all.” And so efforts are being made to re-unite the various great bodies of  Christendom in one vast society headed by the Pope. This is the avowed purpose of many leaders in the larger Protestant  bodies.  What foolish people these  Protestants are! — Protestants who have long ceased to protest against evil  doctrine, forgetting the millions of lives that were sacrificed for the precious  truth.  Depend upon it, if the day  ever comes that the Pope gets into the saddle again, and gets control of the  proposed union, it will only by at the expense of life if people will worship  scripturally at all.  But Protestant  leaders are dazzled with the thought of a great united church, and are hurrying  us on to a union with Rome which Scripture shows clearly enough will yet take  place.  But, thank God, not until  the church of Christ has been caught up to meet the Lord in the clouds, to be  with Himself, according to His promise (Jno. 14:2,3). God gave Rome space to repent. If she had had any desire to get right with Him, she would have repented  in the 16th century.

Since the 16th century she has added to her blasphemies and errors the  declaration of the absolute sinlessness of the Virgin Mary, lifting her to the  position of a female God, and declared that she was caught up to heaven without  dying and crowned queen of heaven.

At the Council of the Vatican less than 75 years ago, the Church of Rome  produced another of her wretched dogmas — the infallibity of her Popes. This dogma was so utterly without reason that many bishops said, “This is  going too far.  We know that Popes  have reversed each other over and over again.” But Rome never repented; she has added sin upon sin to the heavy list God  had against her in the middle ages, and will remain the same to the end. It behooves Protestants to keep clear of it all. God says He is going to cast her into the great tribulation. Ephesus is at an end; Smyrna at an end about 312 A.D; Pergamos at an end;  Thyatira begins in the 7th century, and goes right on into the Great  Tribulation, and manifests herself at last as Babylon the Great. Her children are to be judged; but wherever there is a remnant found who “have not known the depths of Satan,” the Lord own them as His, and exhorts them  to hold fast what they have until He come. To the overcomer He promises what Rome has always sought — power over  the nations.  They will rule with  Him when He comes again.  Thus the  hope of the Second Coming of Christ is put before them, and henceforth has a  large place in each of these church-letters.

Time has not permitted so full an exposition as I would have liked, but I  trust enough has been brought before us to stir our hearts to search the  Scriptures for ourselves, and to study as never before this marvelous portion of  God’s holy Word.

 

LECTURE IV

 

THE SEVEN  CHURCHES (Continued )

 

(Chapter 3)

 

None of you can have a keener sense than I of the cursory nature of these  addresses.  Time forbids going into  that detail on all points which alone would enable one to give anything like a  complete exposition of this marvelous portion of the Word of God. But if I can but whet your appetite for further study, and start  Christians searching the Word for themselves, and weighing, too, what others  have written and published on this theme, I shall feel that these addresses have  not been in vain.1

 

1It is always a pleasure to  me to commend the writings of trustworthy servants of Christ, who are true to  the Book.  There are a number of  excellent expositions of Revelation, each one of which would, I am sure, be a  help in the further study of the subject:

“Exposition of the Revelation” by Walter Scott

“Lectures on Revelation” by Wm. Kelly

“The Book of Revelation” by A.C. Gaebelein

On the Seven Churches I especially commend, “The Prophetic History of the  Church” by F.W. Grant.

 

We now go on to look at the next part in the marvelous series of this  great annotated time-table of the church’s history.

 

“And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he  that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that  thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to  die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and  repent.”

 

Sardis means “a remnant,” or, “those who have escaped.” This is surely very significant, and tells its own story too plainly to  be misunderstood.  It brings before  us, prophetically, the great State-churches of the Reformation, who escaped from  Rome, only to fall eventually (alas, that it should be so) into cold, lifeless  formalism.

It is plainly to be seen, from the first verse, that there is a measure  of return to early principles.  The  Lord’s introduction of Himself to this church is very similar to that in the  letter to Ephesus, and yet the difference is most marked. Here He is said to have the seven stars; there He was said to hold the seven stars in His right hand. It is, at least, the recognition that ministry belongs to Christ. Ministers are Christ’s ministers — not the Church’s. Yet, even in the glorious days of the Reformation, the truth was not  fully apprehended that ministers are to be controlled by, and subject to,  Christ, without any human intermediary. While the Protestant ministry is very different from the Romish  hierarchy, unfortunately human ordination has done much to becloud a proper  conception of the servant’s responsibility to the Master.

The Lord declares solemnly, “I know thy works, that thou has a name that  thou livest, and art dead.”  How sad  and solemn the indictment!  One  might well ask in amazement, How can such things be after the blessing and  revival of Reformation days?  But  when we remember that the State-churches were, from the first, intended to  include all the population of a given country, who were supposed to be made  members of the church and kingdom of Christ by baptism in infancy, one can  readily understand why such churches, though, possibly, strictly orthodox, may  yet be largely composed of persons still dead in trespasses and in sins. Nothing can be much sadder than vast congregations of people, baptized,  banded together as Christians, “taking the sacrament” of the Lord’s Supper,  zealous for church and Christianity, and yet largely devoid of personal, saving  faith in Christ — trusting rather in forms and ceremonies, and what some have  called “birth-right membership,” than in new birth through the Word and Spirit  of God.

What is needed everywhere is a great revival of decided gospel preaching,  pressing home on the consciences of men and women their lost condition, despite  church membership, if they have not personally received the Lord Jesus Christ. The Word says, “Break up the fallow ground”; sow not among “thorns.” We often hear people say they would like to see more old-time  conversions.  Well, there must first  be the old-time preaching of the exceeding sinfulness of sin, and the lost  condition of all men by nature as well as practice, until the old-time  conviction will seize upon the souls of Christless men and women, and then the  old-time gospel will be hailed as the only relief.

No wonder the Lord says to Protestantism, “Be watchful and strengthen the  things which remain, that are ready to die; for I have not found thy works  perfect before God.”  And He calls  upon them to remember how they had received and heard, and to hold fast and  repent.  Now, surely, it must be  plain to anyone who carefully examines the Scripture, that this message would in  no sense have been as applicable to the Thyatira as to the Sardis period. Such word would not have the same force when addressed to Rome as when  addressed to the churches of the Reformation. What did these latter receive and hear? Clearly the great truths proclaimed so fearlessly in the days of the  Reformation, and embodied for the instruction of future generations in the  creeds of the 16th and 17th centuries. And, may I say, I am not one of those who waste time denouncing creeds. Credo means “I believe.” Any man who believes anything has a creed. All the great creeds of Protestantism were but the carefully drawn-up  declaration of the faith of those who had escaped from Romish superstition, who  desired to make clear to their children what they recognized as the truth which  they had received from God.  We need  not be surprised if we find in these creeds some statements which fuller light  and knowledge would lead us to refuse or revise, but I think we may say that  there is not one of these symbols which does not hold within it every fundamental truth of the Word of God. Take the Augsburg Confession of the Lutherans; the Westminster Confession  of the Presbyterians; the 39 Articles of the Church of England; and others too  numerous to mention.  Every one of  them insists on the true deity of Christ and the efficacy of His atoning work on  Calvary’s cross.  All alike declare  that salvation is only through faith, apart form works.

Those creeds stand, I repeat, for the fundamental truths of Christianity;  and it is not to any minister’s credit to-day, if still attached to any such  denomination as I have just referred to, to stand up in the pulpits of such  churches and say, “I have thrown the creed of the church overboard.” When a man reaches that point he either ought to be thrown out of the  church whose principles he no longer believes, or he should be honest enough to  take himself out.  One of the worst  features of the present apostasy is that there are thousands of men occupying  supposedly orthodox pulpits, who would, if they could, destroy everything for  which their respective denominations are understood to stand.

And so we may thank God for the truths contained in these creeds; while,  on the other hand, we recognize that, where the Word of God is bowed to, no  humanly-drawn-up creed is needed.  Nevertheless, it is in view of these very confessions, I am persuaded, that the  Lord says, “Remember how thou hast received and heard.” He calls upon Protestants to remember the great truths committed to them  at the Reformation, and hold them fast, and repent for the slack way in which  they have treated them in the past.

And now, for the second time in these letters, the Lord speaks of His  approaching advent:  “If therefore  thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know  what hour I will come upon thee.”  How different this to the word in the 5th chapter of 1 Thessalonians. There, the apostle speaking of the same wondrous advent, writes, “But ye,  brethren, are not in darkness that that day should overtake you as a thief.” It is very evident, therefore, that the coming of the Lord should be the  daily expectation of His own beloved people. It is only to the great mass of mere professors that His return will be  as the coming of a thief, that is, as the unexpected and unlooked-for One, whose  coming will spread dismay instead of gladness.

Blessed it is to know the declaration and promise of the Lord in verse 4. Even in Sardis He beholds a few names which have not defiled their  garments, and such He declares shall walk with Him in white, for they are  worthy.  His blood alone has made  them so.  There are thousands in  Christendom who, though linked up with much that is unscriptural, and often  almost undistinguishable from the mass, are yet plainly discernible to His eye,  for it is written, “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” To these overcomers the promise is made that they shall be clothed in  white raiment, nor will their names be blotted out of the Book of Life, when the  thousand of names, representing a Christless profession, will be expunged from  the records of those who profess to have life, in the day of manifestation.

It is not a question of people, who have been truly born of God, losing  that eternal life given them in Christ, for that, as many other Scriptures show,  is an impossibility.  In fact, were  it otherwise, it would not be eternal life at all. But the Lord is referring to those who have a name to live, but  are dead.  Their names are  registered among those who profess to have life in Christ. In reality they are, as Jude puts it, “twice dead” — dead in trespasses  and sins, and dead to their profession of life. So in the day of manifestation, their names will be eliminated, and only  those left who have proven by continuance in well-doing that they truly have  life in Christ.  Such will be  confessed before the Father and the angels at the Lord’s second coming.

 

The next in order is the letter to the church in Philadelphia, which  means “brotherly love.”

 

“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith  he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that  openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth; I know thy  works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for  thou hast a little strength, and has kept my word, and hast not denied my name.  . . . because thou hast kept the word of my patience, 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.”

 

This, I believe, brings us to what we may call the revival period. Following the Reformation there came a time when a cold, lifeless  formalism seemed to settle down over all Protestant Christendom — an era  in which men were content simply to confess a creed, and as we have already  mentioned, were supposed to be united to the church by baptism. But in the 18th and 19th centuries there came over all those lands where  the Reformation had gone a great wave of blessing. God began to work afresh in mighty power. There were marvelous awakenings all over northern Europe and the British  Isles.  A half century later the  same mighty power began to manifest itself in America. Spirit-filled servants of Christ went through these various countries  like fire-brands of the Lord, calling on sinners to repent, and saints to awaken  to their privileges.  A little  later, in the early part of the last century (1800’s), God, in a very special  way, began to arouse many of His people to a deeper sense of the value of His  Word, and its all-sufficiency for the guidance of His people in this scene. This led to the recognition of the fact that Christ Himself is the  gathering centre for His people; and for His name’s sake thousands left all  human systems, and began to meet in simplicity, seeking to be guided alone by  the Word of God.

Now I do not mean to imply that we are to understand any special movement  or association of believers to be in itself Philadelphia, but, just as Sardis  sets forth State churches of the Reformation, so I believe Philadelphia sets  forth those in Protestantism who emphasize the authority of the Word of God, and  the preciousness of the name of Christ. For any particular company to claim to be Philadelphia is but detestable  ecclesiastical pretension, and God has very evidently blown upon all such  conceit.

Notice what, in a special way, would mark those who seek to walk as  Philadelphians.  In the first place  there is the very name of this church — “brotherly love.” This implies that those contemplated here, love as brethren. They are born of God, and His love is shed abroad in their hearts by the  Holy Spirit given unto them, and they are characterized by love to all who are  Christ’s.  Alas, how little is this  characteristic seen among many who make very loud pretensions to being the  testimony of the Lord at the present time. There may be much high truth, and a great pretension to divine ground and  maintaining of scriptural principles, but if this first mark of brotherly love  be missing, depend upon it you have not yet found Philadelphia.

In the second place, observe the character in which the Lord presents  Himself to this church.  “These  things saith He that is holy, He that is true.” This is, in itself, a challenge to separation from evil in life, and  error in doctrine.  If we would walk  in fellowship with the Holy One, we must remember the word, “By ye holy, for I  am holy.”  And if we would enjoy  communication with Him who is true, we must refuse Satan’s lies, and love and  live the truth ourselves.  Hence it  follows, as it has been put by others, that “separation from evil is God’s  principle of unity.”  Not, indeed,  separation in a cold, pharisaic sense, but separation to Christ from that  which is evil.

In the next place the Lord speaks of Himself as “He that hath the key of  David, He that openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth.” In Isaiah 22:22, he who had the key of David was the treasurer of David’s  house.  And the word used here is  clearly a reference to that passage. There it is said of Eliakim, “The key of the house of David will I lay  upon his shoulder; so he shall open and none shall shut; and he shall shut and  none shall open.”  The remainder of  the passage shows that Eliakim was but a type of the Lord Jesus Christ, the one  upon whom should be hung all the glory of His Father’s house. He, by His Spirit, opens the great treasure-house of divine truth, and  none can shut it.  On the other hand  where there is perversity of spirit, and an unwillingness to walk in the truth,  He shuts and none can open.  So He  has said elsewhere, “If the light that is in thee become darkness, how great is  that darkness.”

And it is blessed to realize that, while Christ is said to have  the key of David, there is another sense in which we see that Himself is  the key, for it is by the presentation of Himself to the souls of His people  that He opens up the treasures of His Word. Thus Christ is the key to the Holy Scriptures, and no other is needed. To understand the Bible you need only to know Christ.

Perhaps there is another sense in which we might apply the words in  regard to opening and shutting; that is, they may have an application to  service.  The Lord Himself opens the  doors for those whom He sends forth, and He it is who closes them when He so  wills.  And this is one thing that  Philadelphian believers, generally, have found. Acting on the truth that Christ is Son over His own house, and that He  has commanded His servants to go into all the world and preach the gospel to  every creature, thousands have gone forth, in dependence on Him alone, not only  in the home-land, but to lands beyond the seas, even among the heathen people,  without any organization or Board behind them and have found the Lord Himself  all-sufficient to meet every need, and to open and close just as He will. “Faith can firmly trust Him, come what may.” I think the 8th verse emphasizes this second application, for there He  says, “I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it, for thou  hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.”

Observe these important characteristics of Philadelphia. His Word is kept, His Name is confessed. The keeping of His Word involves a great deal more than just believing  the Bible, or reading and studying it. It implies obedience to the revealed will of the Lord. It is a blessed thing to realize that “All Scripture is given by  inspiration of God, and is profitable for reproof, for correction, for  instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly  furnished unto all good works.”  What immense scope is there here for faith to act upon! This blessed book of God marks out all my path, and, so long as I seek to  walk in obedience, I will never be found in circumstances where this Book cannot  guide me.  And this, I believe, is  what is involves in keeping His Word.

The denial of His Name is the increasing apostasy around us on every  hand.  Those who have not denied His  Name refuse all fellowship with this God-dishonoring condition of things. Christ is to them more precious than all else; even for the sake of  service, they refuse to link themselves with that which dishonors or blasphemes  that worthy name whereby they are called.

It is significant that, wherever Philadelphian truth has been proclaimed,  the devil has raised up a counterfeit to draw people’s hearts away from the  truth, and so, in verse 9, the Lord speaks of those who will be manifested as  the synagogue of Satan, “who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie.” The day will come when they will have to worship before the feet of those  who are faithful to the Lord, and shall know that He has loved them. It is, undoubtedly, that false Judaizing system which is contemplated,  whose advocates everywhere oppose the truth of grace, and seek in every way to  hinder the carrying out of those principles which we have been noticing as  pleasing to the Lord.  In their  ignorance, these teachers give up the true Christian position, claiming to be  the spiritual Israel, appropriating to themselves Jewish promises and Jewish  hopes, and would put the consciences of Christians under the bondage of Jewish  legalism, thus really doing Satan’s work.

The promise of verse 10, like all the promises to these different  churches, is for every true child of God. “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, 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.”  This is  the Lord’s own pledge to those who love His Name, and seek to keep His word — they shall not be left down here to pass through the appalling tribulation which  is just ahead of those who “dwell upon the earth.” This expression is found frequently in the book of Revelation. It does not simply mean those who live in the world, but a careful  reading of the various passages in which this peculiar term is found, will make  it manifest that “the earth-dwellers” are in contrast to those whose citizenship  is in heaven.  They are persons who,  while professing to be Christians, refuse the heavenly calling, and prove by  their earthly-mindedness and worldly ways, that they really belong to this  world.  All their hopes are here,  and their treasures likewise, and the Lord has said, “Where your treasure is,  there will your heart be also.”  The  coming Great Tribulation will be, for them, a time of fearful trial.

Of this hour of turmoil the bulk of the book of Revelation treats, as we  shall demonstrate in later lectures. But when that hour comes the church of the present dispensation will have  been caught up to meet the Lord in accordance with the promise in 1 Thess.  4:13-18.  And to this agrees the  verse that follows in out chapter, “Behold, I come quickly; hold that fast which  thou hast, that no man may take thy crown.” The Lord’s return is the hope of every Christian heart. They long to see Him who loved them and gave Himself for them. At His return, they will be manifested before His judgement-seat, and be  rewarded according to service here.  Then He will give out the crowns for service in this day of His rejection. Observe that the warning is, “Let no man take thy crown.” It is not, “Let no man take thy life,” or “thy salvation.” That is eternally secure in Christ. Being born of God, I cannot lose my salvation; but, if I am not a  faithful servant, I may lose my crown.

The overcomer will be made a pillar in the temple of God, the God of our  Lord Jesus Christ, and shall dwell in the Father’s house to go no more out  forever.  Upon him will be written  the name of God, the name of the Holy City, and Christ’s new name. All that is involved in this is beyond our poor, finite comprehension,  but it speaks of stability, of security, of fellowship, of intimacy with the  Lord Himself, which will make heaven to the believer — his blessed and eternal  home.

Laodicea completes this septenary series, and brings us down, practically  to the last stage of the professing church’s history on earth — the close of  the present dispensation.

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things  saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of  God; I know thy works, that thou are neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert  cold or hot.  So then because thou  art lukewarm, and neither cold not hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

 

Laodicea is a compound word, and means “rights of the people.” Could any other term more aptly set forth the condition of present-day  church affairs?  It is the era of  democratization, both in the world and in the church. The masses of the people are realizing  their power as never before.  The  terrific slogan, vox populi, vox Dei (The voice of the people is the  voice of God), is ringing through the world with clarion-like distinctness. Imperialism and every form of aristocratic government is disappearing — at least for the time being.  The  age of anarchy is almost upon us.  Bolshevism is not confined to unhappy Russia, it is making tremendous progress  in all Christendom.  Statesmen and  capitalists never were more anxious and nervous than at the present time. In the great war we were told our soldiers were fighting to make the  world safe for democracy.  In a  little while statesmen will be attempting to raise armies to make the world safe  from democracy.  The spirit of this  ultra-democratic age has invaded a large portion of the professed church. The authority of God and His Word is rapidly being denied. The spirit of the age is the spirit of a large part of the church; hence  the striking correspondence between this letter to the Laodiceans and the  latitudinarianism so prevalent about us.

In a day when faithful witnesses to God’s truth are becoming fewer and  fewer, the Lord addresses himself to the church as the Amen (that is, the  establisher of all God’s promises), the faithful and true Witness, who will  maintain to the last what is of God, though the great majority of those who  profess to follow Him be swept away by the apostasy. He reproves the church for its lukewarmness and indifference to Himself  and the truth.  He says, “because  thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spue thee out of my  mouth.”  There is neither burning  zeal for His word, nor yet absolute repudiation of Christ and the Bible. Instead there is a nauseating, lukewarm condition, that is abhorrent to  the Spirit of God.  Lukewarm water  is, in itself, an emetic; and this is the figure the Lord here uses. He cannot tolerate such conditions much longer, but will spue out the  whole disgusting mass in judgment.

Meantime the church goes on in its pride and self-satisfaction, saying, “I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing”; knowing not  that, in His eyes, it is “poor, and miserable, and blind, and naked.” Never were church dignitaries and carnally-minded religious leaders more  satisfied with themselves and their great work than at the present time. Anything and everything is advocated that will seem to make for the  church’s popularity.  The rights of  the people alone must be considered; the right of the Lord Jesus Christ are not  even thought of.  We have come to a  time when, in many places, it is easier to get on without Christ than with Him; easier to carry on religious programmes without the Holy Spirit than if  He were working among us in mighty power. No wonder He says, “I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire  (that is, divine righteousness), that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment  (that is, practical righteousness) that thou mayest be clothed, and anoint thine  eyes with eyesalve (that is, the anointing of the Holy Spirit) that thou mayest  see.”  Yes, there is lots of work,  much fleshly energy and human effort being put forth to reclaim the world, and  make it a comfortable place for men to live in, apart from Christ; but the great  things of God’s truth are largely neglected, and myriads of so-called  church-workers are utter strangers to the new birth, without which no one can  see the Kingdom of God.

And so we see the Lord standing at last outside the door of the  professing church, and saying so tenderly, “Behold, I stand at the door and  knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and  will sup with him, and he with Me.”  Ah, beloved friend, it is getting late in the dispensation: the night-shades are  fast falling; and the Lord who, in the beginning, was in the midst of His  church, stands outside that lukewarm system which calls itself by His  name, and He knocks in vain for entrance! Yet, individuals here and there open to Him, and find His presence is  more to them than all else that the earth or the professing church can afford.

And so we have come down to the closing days of the present dispensation  of grace.  The Ephesus period passed  away long ago, and the same is true of the Smyrna and Pergamos periods. Thyatira, which, as we have seen, speaks of Romanism, and began properly  when the Pope was recognized as universal Bishop, is with us still, and will go  on to the end.  Sardis, which began  centuries later, remains to the present time, and will remain till the Lord  shall come.  Philadelphia, thank  God, is also here, and, though it has but a little strength, will also abide to  the end.  But Laodicea is more and  more in evidence, and seems to be almost swamping everything that is of God.

The next great event is the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, and our  gathering together unto Him.  For  this we wait, and our longing hearts cry, “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”

Antichrist in Prophecy

By Randall Price

Posted by dtbrents

The designation “Antichrist,” appearing only in the epistles of John (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7), is made up of the Greek words

anti (“against, in place of”) and christos (“Christ”), and indicates any agent of the evil one (Satan) who acts contrary to or as a counterfeit of God’s Anointed who is destined to rule the world in the end time (Psalm 2:2, 6-8; 110:1-2; Isaiah 9:6-7, et. al.). The use of both the singular (“antichrist”) and plural (“antichrists”) in 1 John 2:18 allows for both a concentrated and comprehensive expression such as in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 13:1-14) where an eschatological duo of antichrists are distinguished as the “first Beast” (the Antichrist) and the “second beast” (the false prophet), who with the “dragon” (Satan) as the origin of their “power” (authority), form a counterfeit trinity (Revelation 13:1-2, 11). According to 1 John 4:3 the comprehensive form of “antichrist” is found in the anti-theocratic and anti-Semitic spirit that characterizes the present age and indicates that this is “the last hour” (Last Days) in which the Antichrist is predicted to arise (1 John 2:18; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3, 6-8). Despite the isolated use of the term Antichrist, the Bible is filled with descriptive terminology of the diabolical and desecrating nature of this future opponent of God and His saints. Among the more obvious epithets in Scripture are: “the little horn” (Daniel 7:8), “the insolent king” (Daniel 8:23), “the prince who is to come” (Daniel 9:26), “the one who makes desolate” (Daniel 9:27), “the despicable person” (Daniel 11:21), “the strong-willed king” (Daniel 11:36), “the worthless shepherd” (Zechariah 11:16-17), “the man of lawlessness” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), “the son of destruction” (2 Thessalonians 2:3); “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:8), “the beast” (Revelation 11:7; 13:1; 14:9; 15:2; 16:2; 17:3, 13; 19:20; 20:10). Only the futurist school (which includes premillennialism) has been able to develop a self-consistent interpretation of the Antichrist concept from the scriptural witness of the two testaments.

Antichrist in the Old Testament

The statement in John’s epistle that his audience had “heard that Antichrist was coming” (1 John 2:18) encourages an examination of the Old Testament text for proleptic imagery that suggests this eschatological figure. In the Old Testament this ultimate Antichrist is progressively revealed through a series of human “antichrists” that appear as opponents of the Jewish People, and especially as desecrators of Jerusalem and/or the holy Temple. Antichrist allusions usually take the form of a human being (usually a monarch or military commander) set in direct opposition to God. In this position the human personality often takes on super-human proportions by virtue of the divine/human contest, and as such, serves as a pre-figurement or type of the eschatological Antichrist who will seek to usurp divine worship. Types of the Antichrist revealed during the biblical period are: (1) the serpent in Eden who deceived man and sought to corrupt the divine order (Genesis 3), (2) Nimrod, the blasphemous ruler who sought to usurp divine worship (Genesis 10:8; 11:1-9), (3) Amalek, the son of Esau (Genesis 36: 12, 16) whose descendants opposed Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 17:8-16; Deuteronomy 25:19; 1 Samuel 15:2-3), (4) Balaam, the foreign prophet who opposed Israel (Num. 22-24), (5) the Pharaoh of the Exodus, who oppressed the Israelites in Egypt (Exodus 1:11, 22; 5:2) and was unnamed in Scripture, perhaps to emphasize his role as a divine adversary, (6) the Assyrian king

Sennacherib, who oppressed the Northern Kingdom and arrogantly sought to capture Jerusalem (2 Kings 18:13-19:37), and (7) the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar who destroyed the Temple in Jerusalem, persecuted Israel in exile, and usurped divine prerogative [sovereignty] (2 Kings 24:13-14; Daniel 4:30).

The most developed typology appears in Daniel’s description of the blasphemous ruler whom he designates as “the little horn” who “makes war with the saints” and is destroyed by the “Ancient of Days” (Daniel 7:8, 21), “the wicked and tyrannical king” (Daniel 8:11-14; 11:31), assumed to be Antiochus IV Epiphanes who desecrated the Jewish Temple in 186 B.C., and “the prince that shall come” (Daniel 9:26), probably the Roman general Titus who destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70. By comparing the more obvious types (the “antichrists”) with the antitype (the “Antichrist”), we can observe first, that in every case the type is either a Gentile or one outside the legitimate line of inheritance and second, that there is a progressive development of opposition to God finally centering on the desecration of the Temple. The development of these figures from type to antitype reveals that the movement of the typological antichrist’s actions begin with elements of opposition to the divine program, manifested as opposition to God and oppression of God’s People, which escalates with each figure toward desecration of the Temple as place where the divine Presence is represented on earth. As Daniel’s revelation (Daniel 8:9-25; 11:21-45) of the Antichrist imagery is the last and most highly developed of all the types (embodying all the previously revealed types), and focuses on his abominable desolation of the Holy Place (Daniel 8:11-14; 11:31), it casts the mold for the New Testament’s portrayal of the future Antichrist (Daniel 11:36-45; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Revelation 13:1-10; 17:11-17), and his end-time Abomination of Desolation in the Tribulation Temple (Daniel 9:27; 12:11; cf. Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; 2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Antichrist in the New Testament

In the New Testament, the witnesses to Antichrist are Jesus and the apostles Paul and John. However, this is to be expected since they present the most extensive treatments of eschatology (Olivet Discourse, Thessalonian epistles, and Revelation).

In the Gospels

Jesus assumes the Danelic figure that desecrated the Temple through the Abomination of Desolation will be understood by His future Jewish audience as the Antichrist who will set himself against the Nation and their God (Matthew 24:15/ Mark 13:14). Implied in Jesus’ selective description (primarily from Daniel 9:27; cf. 11:36-37) in the Olivet Discourse is the incompatibility of that which is holy with the Antichrist. Whether a holy city, a holy Temple, or a holy (Chosen) People, the Antichrist by his very nature must seek to destroy them all. For this reason the Jewish People living in Jerusalem in the day of Antichrist’s power are warned to flee (Matthew 24:16-21/ Mark 13:14b-19). Jesus’ statement of the Antichrist’s “abomination of desolation” is the signal event that marks the mid-point of the Tribulation. Studies in the chiastic structure of Matthew 24/Mark 13 reveal that the elements corresponding to the first and second half of the Tribulation are arranged with Matthew 24:15/Mark 13:14 as the pivot. Thus, the prophecy of Antichrist is the chronological determinative for the Tribulation, with Antichrist’s covenant with the Jewish leaders marking its beginning (Daniel 9:27a), the Temple desecration

its middle (Daniel 9:27b; Matthew 24:15/Mark 13:14a; 2 Thessalonians 2:4), and the Antichrist’s destruction its end (Daniel 9:27c; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:8).

In Paul

Paul also emphasizes the incompatibility of holiness and ungodliness by contrasting Christ with Antichrist (2 Cor. 6:15-16), though he uses the cognomen “Belial” (“wicked” or “worthless one”) familiar from the intertestamental Jewish literature. While some have thought Paul’s reference is to Satan, Paul could have easily used the available Greek term

 

Satanas (“Satan”). He more likely chose this obscure expression (used only here in the New Testament) because of its apocalyptic usage of Messiah’s quasi-human end-time opponent. Furthermore, the context uses Temple imagery (vs. 16) and Paul’s command for “separation” in verses 6:17; and 7:1 is “go out of their midst,” an escapist tone analogous to Antichrist contexts such as 1 John 10:39: “go out, escape” and Christ’s warning to “flee” (Matthew 24:15-16/ Mark 13:14b). If Paul had these ideas in the background, Belial may be a more fitting allusion to the Antichrist than Satan. Paul’s more explicit statement concerning the character and activity of Antichrist is in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4. The character of the Antichrist is defined in this text as “he who opposes” (vs. 4a), a word in the Greek, which was used by the LXX in 1 Kings 11:25a as a rendering for the Hebrew word satan (“adversary”). This points to Antichrist’s link with Satan, which verse 9 says more precisely is “in accord with the activity of Satan.” Since Satan’s adversary is God, and his original goal was to become like God (cf. Isaiah 14:14; Ezek. 28:17), the Antichrist actions are apparently an attempt to fulfill this by usurping worship as God (vs. 4b; cf. Revelation 13:4-8). His counterfeit is apparently of the God of Israel, since in verse 4 he is pictured as one who will exalt himself above every “god or object of worship” (i.e. abobe all pagan gods) and enthrones himself “in the Temple of God displaying himself as God,” the language of theophanic installation (cf. 1 Kings 8:10; 2 Chron. 7:1-3; Ezek. 43:1-7). In this way the Antichrist appears as a rival to Christ, not by an assumption of the messianic role, but as His superior (economically speaking) – as God [the Father]. Note too, that in this passage, the Antichrist usurps the place of God in a blasphemous act of self-deification. This is why Paul uses the descriptive terms “the man of lawlessness” and “the son of destruction” (vs. 3). The word “lawlessness” apparently describes his nature as characterized by his opposition to the Temple as the repository of the Law (vs. 4), while the word “destruction” refers to his destiny, i.e. destined for “destruction” or “perdition” (vs. 8).

Paul seems to connect the “revelation of Christ” (vss. 1-2) with the “revealing of the Antichrist (vss. 3-4) in such a way as to imply that Christ’s return to earth is related to Antichrist rebellion on earth, a cause/effect relationship clearly drawn in Revelation 19:11-20. Because the Antichrist is here said to be “revealed,” it has been suggested that his “revelation” is a counterfeit to that of Christ’s (vs. 9). From Paul’s description of the destruction of the Antichrist at the revelation of Christ (vs. 8), it appears that he identified “the lawless one” with Daniel’s “little horn” (Daniel 7:8, 11).

In the Book of Revelation

In the Book of Revelation, the term “Antichrist” does not appear (although John previously used it in his epistles). The reason for this may be partly explained from the symbolic

character of his prophetic vision, for his expression of the Antichrist is “Beast,” a term descriptive of his inhuman nature which was often revealed to John in animal form. The Revelation provides the most complete information about the career of the Antichrist, even offering an identification of his person in the cryptogram 666 (13:16-18). Since the text does not give an explanation for this number, other than that it is the “number of a man” (i.e. Antichrist), no one until the appropriate hour in the Tribulation will be able to discern this meaning. John with Paul understands the Antichrist is to be energized by Satan, or in Johannine terminology, “the dragon” (13:2; cf. 12:5). John’s picture of the Antichrist is of a world ruler (13:1, 4, 7; 17:12-13, 17) whose political position is so dominanting that it encroaches into the religious realm (13:15). This is accomplished for the Antichrist by a diaboloical religious figure John presents as a “second beast,” who is a lesser antichrist. He is a duplicate of the Antichrist as the “first Beast” (13:12a), but inferior to him, having only “two horns” compared with his ten (13:11b).

In contrast to the first Beast who “arises out of the

 

sea,” the second beast “comes up out of the earth” (13:11a). These contrasting terms are indicative of the origin of the two beasts. “The sea” may symbolize the Gentiles (17:15; cf. Daniel 7:2-3), and if this were the case here, the opposite term “the earth” would symbolize the Jews. There is precedence for the Gentile origin of Antichrist in the Old Testament allusions, and the Jewish identification may be strengthened if here “the earth” has technical sense of “the Land” [of Israel] as it sometimes may in Revelation (11:18; cf. Daniel 8:9). While most premillennial interpreters have accepted the view that the Antichrist’s geographical origin is in Europe as a revived Roman empire, based on Daniel 9:26 having Rome in the background, a Middle-eastern origin has been proposed, based on Assyria being the “slain” [kingdom] of Revelation 13:3 (cf. Revelation 17:9-11; Daniel 11:40) that is revived as Iraq (Goodman, Hodges).

The “second beast” acts as a lieutenant of the Antichrist in the religious realm, duplicating the miraculous “signs” of the biblical prophets (13:13-14). Just as many “antichrists” appeared during the Last Days to prepare for the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22), so many “false prophets and false Christs” will appear throughout the Tribulation (cf. Matthew 24:10, 24) to prepare for the greater deception of the second beast (Revelation 13:13-14) as the superlative “False Prophet” (Revelation 13:14 with Matthew 24:24; cf. Revelation 19:20). He possesses counterfeit, but subordinate, authority like that of the first Beast (13:4, 12), which is why he is called a “second” beast. In this position he promotes the universal worship of the Antichrist (13:16), who will apparently at this time claim the status of deity (Revelation 13:4-8, 12-13). While the False Prophet is said to “deceive” the “earth-dwellers” or Gentiles (Revelation 13:12), he is also shown to perform “signs” which are peculiar to Israel (Revelation 13:12b-15). Because these “signs” include the ability to restore life (vs. 12), call fire down from heaven (vs. 13), and to create (vss. 14b-15), his actions particularly recall those of the Prophet Elijah (cf. 1 Kings 18:36-38; 17:21-23; 17:14-16). This might imply that the False Prophet will, like Elijah (cf. Malachi 3:1-2; 4:5), act as a messianic forerunner proclaiming the Antichrist as Messiah, however, the Antichrist receives worship as a god exalted above all other gods (Revelation 13:4, 8; cf. 2 Thessalonians 2:4), so it is more probable that the False Prophet is for Israel also a False Messiah, who performs expected messianic signs (Isaiah 35:5; 42:7; 61:1; cf. Matthew 11:3-5; Luke 4:18-19) to confirm and magnify the supreme status of the Antichrist through their counterfeit god/prophet relationship (John 5:36; 8:54; 10:18; 17:4; cf. Matt, 24:24 with Acts

2:22). This counterfeit messianic status accords with his description as having “horns like a lamb” (probably a counterfeit of the messianic nature, Revelation 5:6; cf. Isaiah 53:7) and speaking as “a dragon” (Satanic empowerment), 13:11.

The two signs performed for/by the Antichrist: resuscitation and presence in the Temple are connected with each other and with messianic expectation. In accordance with messianic expectation of Messiah at the Temple as divine judge (Malachi 3:1-2), Jesus came into the Temple precincts, and acting judicially, overturned the tables of the money-changers (John 2:13-21). After this act the Jewish crowd who had apparently made the messianic connection asked him for a sign. Jesus answered with the sign of resurrection. The Satanic resuscitation of the Antichrist may be an attempt to counterfeit this sign of resurrection (Revelation 13:3, 12-14) as a means to deification and enthronement as divine judge. The Antichrist’s role as universal judge and executor may point to this investiture (Revelation 13:8-10, 15). However, the intention of the Antichrist in his persecution of Israel and invasion of the Land (Daniel 11:41; cf. 8:9-13) may be to reverse the demonstration of divine blessing, evident with the 144,000 and the Two Witnesses (Revelation 7:1-8; 14:1-5; 11:3-12), by returning the whole Nation to an exilic (scattered) state. Daniel 9:27 describes the “desolation” that follows the Antichrist’s “abomination.” This same term is used to depict the condition of Israel and its Land as a result of desecration and exile (cf. Lev. 26:34, 35; Psalm 73: 19; 2 Chron. 30:7; 36:21; Jer. 4:7). This may occur with the worldwide Jewish persecution that follows Antichrist’s enthronement in the Temple (12:13-17; cf. Matthew 24:16-22; Mark 13:14b-18).

The defeat of the Antichrist accompanies the Second Advent of Christ (19:1, 19-20a) and apparently takes place in Jerusalem at the final campaign of Armageddon (cf. Zechariah 14:1-4; cf. Daniel 9:27c). The eternal destination of the Antichrist is the Lake of Fire (19:20), designed especially for the punishment of Satan and the rebel angelic (demonic) order (Matthew 25:41) with whom these have joined ranks. The Beast and False Prophet are consigned to the Lake of Fire at the conclusion of the Battle of Armageddon (20:20c), but Satan is bound until the end of the Millennium (20:1-3, 7), at which time he is defeated and he is reunited to his Satanic trinity in eternal condemnation (20:9-10). The sober warning for the present unsaved and those who accept the mark of the Antichrist during the Tribulation is that they will share the eternal destiny of the Antichrist in the Lake of Fire (20:13-15; 21:8).

The Nationality of the Antichrist

Three basic arguments seek to establish the national or ethnic identity of the Antichrist. Three basic arguments seek to establish the national or ethnic identity of the Antichrist. The first is the logical argument. It states that since the Jewish People claim that the definitive way the Messiah will be identified by the Jewish Nation is by his building of the Temple that when the Antichrist makes possible the rebuilding of the Third (Tribulation) Temple, the Jewish People will accept him as the Messiah. Consequently, if the Antichrist is accepted as the Messiah, and the Messiah is Jewish, then the Antichrist must also be of Jewish origin. Would the Jewish People allow a non-Jew to be involved in rebuilding the Jewish Temple? A second argument is the lexical argument, a deduction drawn from the biblical text. In this case evidence of Jewish origin is said to be found in the words of Daniel 11:37 in the King James version: “And he will not regard the God of his fathers …” Since these verses describe the character of the Antichrist,

and since the term “God of the fathers” is used elsewhere to refer to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the Jewish Patriarchs or “fathers”), this must indicate that the Antichrist is an apostate Jew.1 Finally, the linguistic argument contends that because of the Greek preposition anti in Antichrist, the Antichrist is a counterfeit of Jesus Christ and since He was Jewish, so must be the Antichrist in order to claim this identity.

These arguments, however, need to be scrutinized in light of other scriptural and historical factors. One reason for this, aside from the desire for biblical accuracy, is that this view, to a Jewish person, is tantamount to the blood libel under which generations of Jews were persecuted by Christians. In fact, in the spring of 1999 Dr. Jerry Falwell was accuse of anti-Semitism by the American Jewish Committee in New York for holding this view. He quickly became the target of pundits on national television talk shows, political commentary programs, and was widely denounced in newspaper editorials throughout the country.2 Few realize the history behind this view that caused such an uproar when made public by a national figure. For instance, one early proponent of this view was the Church Father John Crysostom (4th century A.D.). He said that the Antichrist would be a Jewish dictator from the cursed tribe of Dan3 and called the Jews inveterate murders, destroyers, men possessed by the devil. The blood libel is based on this idea and claims such things as that the Jews had sold themselves to Satan, that they had grown horns as a result of their pact with the devil, and that are the architects of a worldwide scheme to enslave the non-Jewish races. Because of the terrible history of anti-Semitism by Christians, it is incumbent for Christians who hold that the Antichrist is Jewish to be sure this case is certain. However, as we examine the arguments above, we will find that it is, in fact, quite doubtful. Let us consider then the arguments one by one.

The Logical Argument

As to the belief that the one who builds the Temple must be the Messiah, neither the Jewish governor Zerubbabel nor the Judean king Herod when rebuilt the Second Temple were thought by the Jewish People to be the Messiah. They understood that interim Temples could be rebuilt at anytime before the final restoration and the erection of the Temple of Ezekiel’s vision. Futhermore, Jews have previously accepted Gentile rulers as Messiahs. One notable modern

1

 

 

This was the identification of such conservative, dispensational commentators as J.N. Darby and Arno Gaebelein.

2

 

 

Dr. Falwell is, in fact, a strong supporter of Israel (see Merrill Simon’s 1984 book Jerry Falwell and the Jews and denounces anti-Semitism in any form. He later retracted his statement. However, he also observed that he was simply stating the view of Pretribulational Premillennialism (this was stated on the political commentary program “Crossfire”).This is, at best, a minority view among Pretribulational Premillennialists and is more widely espoused by Replacement theologians.

3

 

 

The early Church father Hippolytus (Commentary on the Benedictions of Isaac and Jacob [Gen. 49:14]) began the Christian tradition that the Antichrist originates from the Israelite tribe of Dan, apparently made this connection from the Jewish Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs (T. Dan 1:4-9; 5:6-7), which states that evil spirits would be active in the tribe (5:5), that “Satan” was “their prince” (5:6), and that they would be hostile in the future to the tribes of Levi and Judah (5:6-7). Support for the view is based on the absence of the mention of the tribe of Dan in the list of tribes in Revelation 7:4-8 from which the 144,000 will be selected. The argument is that Dan must have been left out for a reason and that reason must be because that tribe was cursed (see Genesis 49:17; Deuteronomy 33:22; Jeremiah 8:16) because it was destined to bring forth the Antichrist (Daniel 11:37). However, these verses do not warrant such a supposition and only Daniel 11:37 has any reference to the Antichrist. The Bible does not tell us why Dan was left out, but it is not unusual for names of tribes to be left out of listings for numeral balance (the assumption for the reader is that they are included). Dan, in fact, is included with the tribes that are in the Millennial Kingdom (Ezekiel 48:2), so there apparently was not a curse on the tribe.

example was the French general Napolean Bonaparte. Another was the Gentile Persian emperor Cyrus who made possible the rebuilding of the Second Temple through his edict and provision of materials and funds (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-11). In fact, the very character of a covenant, such as that in Daniel 9:27, implies that it is with a foreign (Gentile) power, for it is an outsider who has to sign a legal covenant with the Jewish people, not one of their own.

The Lexical Argument

In the case of Daniel 11:37 the translation here could as easily read “the gods of his fathers” as indeed the New American Standard and New International versions do read. Even so, the focus of Daniel 11:36-39 is upon the Antichrist’s usurption of deity and blasphemous actions against the true God. The only “god” he reveres is military power. His attack on the Holy Land, which includes Israel (verse 41) makes it clear that he has no special kinship with the Jews, but intends to control, and ultimately destroy this Nation. These are not usually done to one’s own people. Rather than find factors that would identify the Antichrist with the Jewish People, the description in these verses parallel the description given of a series of historical Gentile persecutors of the Jewish People (Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Titus, Hadrian, and other Roman, Muslim, and European rulers, such as Adolph Hitler, down through the centuries.4

The Linguistic Argument

There is nothing in the use of the word “anti” in Antichrist that linguistically requires the Antichrist to be a counterfeit Christ. The word “anti” is a preposition that can have the possible meanings of (1) equivalence – one object set over against another as its equivalent (Matthew 5:38; 1 Corinthians 11:15), (2) exchange – one object opposing or distinct from another, or one object given or taken in return for the other (Romans 12:17; John 1:16), and (3) substitution – one object given or taken instead of the other (Matthew 2:2; Luke 11:11).5 While the idea of

 

replacement is denoted by these possible meanings, the idea of counterfeit is not. It must be derived from the context. But does any context indicate that the purpose or program of the Antichrist is to counterfeit Christ? It is stated that their will be “false Christs” (Matthew 24:23-24), but this does not mean that they seek to imitate Jesus Christ. However, the very spirit of the Antichrist is that he rejects and opposes Jesus Christ (1 John 4:3; Revelation 17:14). It is not that he seeks to copy Him, but to conquer Him. In addition, passages such as Rev. 19:19 and Daniel 11:36-39 affirm that the Antichrist will war against both Christ and the Jewish People. This would be a strange act if he were a Jew seeking to counterfeit the Jewish Messiah.

The fact that the rule of the Antichrist takes place during the period of time known as the “times of the Gentiles”(Luke 21:24) would indicate that this one who is the final ruler of this period and epitomizes domination over Israel would also be a Gentile. It would be contrary to the prophetic sequence revealed in Daniel to have a Jew rise to the status of a world ruler before the appointed time for the Jewish kingdom (Daniel 2:32-45; Romans 11:25). Furthermore, the

4

 

 

For my discussion on the typology of the Antichrist see In Search of Temple Treasures (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1994), pp. 247-250.

5

 

 

Dictionary of the New Testament Theology, s.v. anti appendix, by M. J. Harris (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing Co., 1978), 3:1179.

Antichrist appears as the final ruler of this “times of the Gentiles.” “If this is so,” asks Dr. Arnold Fructenbaum, “how can a Jew be the last ruler at a time when only Gentiles can have the preeminence? To say the Antichrist is to be a Jew would contradict the very nature of the Time of the Gentiles.”6 This would especially be expected if the Antichrist leads a European alliance of Gentile nations (Daniel 7:8-24). In fact, in Daniel 2 and 7 all of the Gentile rulers mentioned come from the boundaries of their empires. Why would not the figure of the Antichrist, whose roots appear in the Roman empire (Daniel 9:26) not also be circumscribed by these boundaries? Moreover, the figure of the self-willed king and his actions described in Daniel 11:36-45 have remarkable similarities with the final remnant of the last Gentile kingdom of Daniel 2:42-45, the fourth beast with its little horn in Daniel 7:8, 19-27. These figures attack the God of Israel, the Jewish People, and the saints, and are interpreted as having an identity with the Roman empire. This fits Gentile action and origin better than Jewish. The same period also seems to be described in Revelation 6-19 and the particular event of the desecration of the Temple in Daniel 9:27 is paralleled in Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14 and 2 Thessalonians 2:4.7 Furthermore, it would be out of character for a Jew to lead the nations against his own people when the Tribulation is by nature a time of Jewish distress (Jeremiah 30:7; Daniel 12:1). This period is distinguished by the Gentile nations persecution of the Jewish Nation (especially Jewish believers, Daniel 7:25; Matthew 24:9; Luke 21:12, 17), even though there will clearly be Jewish defection (Matthew 24:10; Luke 21:16) and Jewish false prophets (Matthew 24:11, 23-24; Revelation 13:11-17). In addition, in Revelation 13:1, 11, two different beasts are described as arising respectively from the “sea” and the “earth.” The “sea” is a literary image that often indicates the “Gentile nations” (Daniel 7:2, 3). This would mean that its opposite term here “earth” would refer to the Jews. There is support for this in that the Greek word can be used as a technical expression for the “Land of Israel.” If this is so, then the first beast from the sea, the Antichrist, is Gentile and the second, the false prophet, is Jewish.

Finally, it is not necessary that the Antichrist be considered the Messiah in order for the Temple to be rebuilt because in Orthodox Jewish thinking the obligation to rebuild the Temple rests on the Jewish People not the Messiah. The Jerusalem Talmud, along with many Jewish authorities, holds that the Temple can be rebuilt before the coming of the Messiah, and therefore, that while it could be a means of positive identification, it need not be. While Zechariah 6:12 indicates that Messiah (“the Branch”) will build the Temple, this is the Millennial Temple, and therefore allows for the Third (Tribulation) Temple to be built by someone else.

The Jewish View of the Antichrist

In the final analysis, the Antichrist is not shown in Scripture to be Jewish nor to have been accepted by the Jewish people as Messiah, or even as Anti-Messiah. He is simply regarded by them as another Gentile ruler who, like past Gentile rulers (for example, Cyrus), were instrumental in effecting the conditions whereby the Jewish people could comply with their standing order to rebuild the Temple. For this he will be given no greater acclaim than the previous pagans who were considered unwitting agents of the Almighty (compare Isaiah 44:28;

6

 

 

Arnold Fructenbaum, The Nationality of the Antichrist (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: American Board of Missions to the Jews, n.d.).

7

 

 

For a complete study of this question see Ed Hindson, Is the Antichrist Alive and Well? (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1998).

45:4-5). This is in line with Jewish expectation for the future time of rebuilding. From a description of the Land of Israel at the End of Days given by the Jewish Sage Tosafot Yomtov reveals that He writes in his commentary to the Mishnah: “it comes out that until the Davidic Kingdom, our enemies will have a little bit of rule over us, as was in the beginning of the Second Temple period” (

 

Ma’aser Sheni 5:2). Temple activist Yirmiyahu Fischer explains that: “Here is where he deals with the rebuilding of the Beit HaMikdash ["Temple"] … and according to this a limited Jewish kingdom, even though not fully independent, is good enough to rebuild the Beit HaMikdash ["Temple"], as was the case in the time of Ezra [under Persian rule].”8 Therefore, under the covenant of Antichrist the Jewish People will be allowed a greater, though still limited, national sovereignty sufficient to rebuild the Temple and there is no evidence that he will be regarded at this point as having any special religious status. This accords well with the first half of the Tribulation where the Antichrist has not yet “trampled the holy city” (Revelation 11:2) and no miraculous “signs” (2 Thessalonians 2:9; Revelation 13:3, 13-15) to prove his religious status have yet taken place.

One reason that Orthodox Jews will probably reject the Antichrist when he reveals his true identity at the mid-point of the Tribulation is that there own rabbinic literature, as well as their scriptures (Tanach), has prepared them for such a figure. In the

 

Jerusalem Talmud, Targum pseudo-Jonathan, and the later Jewish Apocalyptic midrashim (commentaries), a Jewish equivalent of the Antichrist appears by the name of Armilus. Works such as Sefer Zerubbavel and those by Saadiah Gaon reveal his characteristics in striking detail. According to these Jewish sources, Armilus will deceive the whole world into believing he is God and will reign over the whole world. He will come with ten kings and together they will fight over Jerusalem. Armilus is expected to persecute and banish Israel to the wilderness and it will be a time of unprecedented distress for Israel; there will be increasing famine, and the Gentiles will expel the Jews from their lands, and they will hide in caves and towers. God will war against the host of Armilus and there will be a great deliverance for Israel and the kingdom of Heaven will spread over all the earth. Other references further describe Armilus as arising from the Roman empire, having miraculous powers, and being born to a stone statue of a virgin, because of which he was called “the son of a stone.” It is also interesting that he makes this statue “the chief of all idolatry” with the result that “all the Gentiles will bow down to her, burn incense and pour out libations to her.” This resembles Daniel’s wicked “king” and “coming prince” and his “abomination of desolation” (Daniel 18:1:31, 36-37), and especially the Apocalypse’s statute of the Beast that is brought to life and made an object of worship (Revelation 13:4, 15).

Bibliography

Bousset, W.

 

The Antichrist Legend: A Chapter in Christian and Jewish Folklore.. Translated by A. H. Keane (London: Hutchinson and Co., 1896), Renan, Ernst. Antichrist. Translated by W. G. Hutchinson (London: W. Scott, Publishers, 1899), Samuel P. Tregelles, The Man of Sin. Reprint of the 1840 edition (London/Aylesbury: Hunt, Benard & Co., 1930), Rigaux, Béda. L’Antéchrist: et l’Oppostion au Royaume Messianique dans l’Ancien et le Nouveau Testament. Universitas Catholica Lovaniensis Dissertationes Seires II. Tomus 24 (Paris: J. Gabalda et Fils, 1932), Bernard McGinn, Antichrist: Two Thousand Years of the Human Fascination with Evil (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 1994), [Evangelical view]: Arthur W. Pink, The Antichrist (Swengel, Pennsylvania: Bible Truth Depot, 1923), J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to

8

 

 

Yirmiyahu Fischer, Mikdash Build 1:20 (February 14, 1997), p. 7.

Come

 

 

(Chicago: Moody Press, 1961), pp. 337-339, Walter K. Price, The Coming Antichrist (Chicago: Moody Press, 1974), In the Final Days (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977), David Hocking, The Coming World Leader (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1988), T. Ice and T. Demy, The Truth about the Antichrist and His Kingdom. Pocket Prophecy Series (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1995), Robert Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), 2: 149-187, John F. Walvoord, The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Chicago: Moody Press, 1966), pp. 197-212, [Assyrian view]: Phillip Goodman, The Assyrian Connection: The Roots of Antichrist and the Emerging Signs of Armageddon (Lafayette, Louisiana: Prescott Press, 1993), Zane C. Hodges, Power to Make War: The Career of the Assyrian Who Will Rule the World (Dallas, Texas: Redención Viva, 1995).

The above article was prepared for

 

The Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy. Eds. Tim LaHaye and Ed Hindson (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2005). Reproduction only by permission of the publisher.

Future Temples


As in the past, the Temple will be present in the future to enable Israel to fulfill her national and spiritual existence. The prophecies of the rebuilding of a Temple in Jerusalem in the eschatological age are therefore an inseparable part of the restoration prophecies made to national Israel which include both the preparation for Israel’s restoration in the Tribulation as well as the resumption of Israel’s theocratic kingdom in the Millennium. Scripture indicates that three temples will appear in the future: a Tribulation Temple, a Millennial Temple, and an Eternal Temple.

The Tribulation Temple

During the Tribulation the Temple will be rebuilt by unbelieving Jews (Is. 66:1-6), apparently as the result of a covenant made between the Jewish leadership and the Antichrist (Dan. 9:27a), and desecrated by the Antichrist with the “Abomination of Desolation” (Dan. 9:27b) when he invades Jerusalem (Dan. 11:45; Rev. 11:2). Jesus enlarged upon Daniel’s prophecy by setting the Temple’s desecration as the signal event dividing the birthpangs of the first half of the Tribulation from the remaining 1,260 days of “Great Tribulation” (Matt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; cf. Rev. 11:1-2) which begins an unparalleled period of Jewish persecution (Matt. 24:16-22; Mk. 13:15-20) leading up to the rescue of the redeemed Remnant at the second advent of Messiah (Zech. 12:8-14; 14:3-5; Lk. 21:27-28; Rev. 19:11-16). Paul further developed the prophecy of the Temple’s desecration in his description of the end-time “deception” that will accompany the revelation of the “man of lawlessness” (2 Thess. 2:4, 10). He explained this as the Antichrist’s blasphemous act to usurp God’s place in the Holy of Holies (2 Thess. 2:4; cf. Rev. 13:6, 14-15). The Tribulation Temple may be destroyed at the return of Christ when the Mount of Olives splits (Zech. 14:4), but it will certainly be removed as part of the extensive topographical changes that will prepare for the Millennial Jerusalem and its Temple (Zech. 14:10; cf. Is. 2:2).

The Millennial Temple

The Millennial Temple will be built by Christ (Zech. 6:12-13), redeemed Jews (Ezek. 43:10-11), and representatives from the Gentile nations (Zech. 6:15; Hag. 2:7; cf. Is. 60:10) at the beginning of the Messianic kingdom (Ezek. 37:26-28). As a sign of the restoration of theocratic rule the Shekinah Glory will return to its Holy of Holies (Ezek. 43:1-7; cf. Is. 4:5-6). Redeemed Gentiles will also be included in worship at this Temple (Is. 60:6; Zeph. 3:10; Zech. 2:11; 8:22; 14:16-19) as predicted by Jesus (Matt. 21:13; Mk. 11:17; Lk. 19:46; cf. Is. 56:7). The dimensions and architectural design of the Millennial Temple, as well as its priestly personnel and ritual regulations are detailed in Ezekiel 40-48. Reasons as to why these descriptions in Ezekiel must be both literal and with reference to the eschatological age are as follows: (1) the immense size of the Temple as well as other features of its design differ radically from those of previously known Jewish temples (Ezek. 42:20; 48:35), (2) aspects of the Temple’s design and ritual violate the Mosaic Law (e.g. a stepped-altar, Ezek. 43:17), indicating it must be built under Israel’s future New Covenant (Jer. 31:31-33; Ezek. 37:26-28), (3) those rebuilding the Temple after the exile did not refer to Ezekiel nor attempt to rebuild the Temple he described because they realized it was intended for a future age (Hag. 2:3-9), (4) the context of Ezekiel indicates the Temple is rebuilt after the glorious return of the Lord (Ezek. 44:1-4; 48:35), (5) it accords with other prophetic texts which speak about the Millennial Temple (Is. 2:2-4; Jer. 33:18; 60:7, 13; Ezek. 37:26-28; 40-48; Hag. 2:9; Zech. 6:12-13;14:20). Another feature of Ezekiel’s Temple that indicates its literal interpretation is the ceremonial system including blood sacrifices. This is in keeping with other prophetic predictions where the Temple includes a priesthood and sacrifices (Is. 56:6-7; 60:7; Jer. 33:18; Zech. 14:16-21). The function of these sacrifices may be memorial in nature, just as the Lord’s Supper is today (1 Cor. 11:24-26), however, the fact that they are said to be for “atonement” may also indicate the need for a ritual purification. This would be necessary, as in the past (Heb. 9:13), for those saints living in mortal bodies throughout the Millennium and seeking approach to the Temple since God’s holy presence will be resident there (Jer. 3:17; Zech. 14:20-21). The Millennial Temple will apparently be besieged by Satan and his army at the end of the Millennial Kingdom (Rev. 20:7-9) and removed at the time of the creation of the new earth (Is. 65:17; 66:22; 2 Pet. 3:12-13; Rev. 21:1).

The Eternal Temple

The final Temple revealed in prophecy is that which will occupy the New Jerusalem throughout the eternal state (Rev. 21:2, 10). Since all of the saints are now in resurrected bodies without the possibility of sin there will be no need for a physical structure to prevent direct contact with God (Rev. 21:3; 22:4). For this reason John declares that he “saw no Temple there” (Rev. 21:22a). However, he immediately adds “for the Lord God, the Almighty, and the Lamb, are its Temple” (Rev. 21:22b). This holy Temple comprised of God Himself will fulfill the divine ideal begun, but never realized, in the Garden of Eden where God and Man were to experience intimate relationship (Gen. 3:8). As a result, the saints will forever fulfill their function as priests, serving God (Rev. 7:15; 21:3) in the New Jerusalem, which itself is an infinitely magnified Holy of Holies (Rev. 21:16; cf. 1 Kgs. 6:20).