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The Apostolic Approach to Evangelism

The Apostolic Approach to Evangelism[...] The approach builds around the well known story of Joseph, as type and parable of both comings of Christ to Israel. The idea is [more]

After Two Days He Will Revive Us...

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Where God Is Taking The Church

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Amos 9 and the Order of the Return

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Understanding God's Purposes with Israel (with Joel Richardson) - [VIDEO]

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More Thoughts on the Restrainer

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Thoughts on the Timing of the Lord's Return (with Joel Richardson) - [VIDEO]

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When the LORD Brought Again the Captivity of Zion

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Apocalyptic Righteousness - [VIDEO]

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The Apostolic Approach to Evangelism

Posted: August 19th, 2017, by Reggie Kelly

Updated Aug 2017 – [Contains some repetitious material from another recent article but has been assembled with greater deliberation and clarity. Definitely worth rereading]

Before Art’s passing, the goal of the planned ‘table talks’ for the following summer was to bring together the scriptures that would establish an overview of the key themes of prophecy. He wanted to find something that would “pull the strands together” into a kind of synthesis, and then to use that synthesis to address and answer the classic Jewish objections to the faith.

What follows is an expansion on a brief overview sent to a brother with whom I shared a plan of presentation that aims to simplify many of the sometimes complex issues of prophecy. It also provides a convenient grid of reference for anyone wanting to present the case for Christ and the mystery of Israel from the Old Testament.

I first present some ideas for an initial introduction. This can be used with great versatility and comparative simplicity, depending on the situation. For those who want to take the subject further, I offer further suggestions on how this initial introductory outline can be used to go deeper, as understanding and maturity permits.

I believe that what I present here came in answer to prayer. For years I have looked to the Lord for a means to “make plain upon tables” (Dan 12:4; Hab 2:2-3) an appreciable amount of otherwise difficult and controversial subject matter. The goal is simplicity and clarity for the average person, regardless of academic background. But the real power of the truths that follow lies in the scriptures themselves. They are specific target passages that merit closest attention.

The approach builds around the well known story of Joseph, as type and parable of both comings of Christ to Israel. The idea is to begin with a couple of key portions of Old Testament prophecy in order to establish a simple outline of the prophetic future, particularly as it pertains to the relationship of Christ’s two comings to Israel. This will provide a convenient frame of reference that can enable and equip any believer to make the case for the mystery of the gospel in the Old Testament, particularly in its relationship to Israel and the events that conclude the age.

To open the subject, I sometimes begin with the familiar story of Bethlehem as an opportunity to show the amazing prophecy of Mic 5:2, pointing out its great antiquity (8th century contemporary of Isaiah). I then point out the lesser known feature of the prophecy the follows in the next verse. “Therefore (for this cause) will He (Yahweh) ‘give them up’ UNTIL the time that she who travails has brought forth; then shall the remnant of His brethren return to the children of Israel (Mic 5:3). The chosen nation is to be “given up UNTIL …”. This is the language of divine abandonment. What are the implications? What provocation was so great as to evoke such ominous language, anticipating the tragic nature of Jewish history?

The next verse shows that the return of “His brethren” coincides with the universal dominion of the ruler from Bethlehem. Exile ends forever with the Davidic king’s rod-iron rule over all nations that begins when enemies are made His footstool with the destruction of the last gentile aggressor (Ps 2:6-9; 110:1-6; Mic 5:4-6). That this is Israel’s promised Messiah from David’s line is undisputed by the Rabbis who acknowledge even His pre-existence but do not accept that there is no other language in Hebrew that could more definitely indicate deity and co-eternality. Yet, if we compare Isaiah’s use of very similar language, noting that he is Micah’s contemporary in the southern kingdom, the evidence begins to point in the direction of a divine Messiah without beginning of days, whose kingdom is everlasting, world without end.

“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.” (Isa 9:6-7).

By connecting verse 1 with verse 3 it becomes evident that the ruler from Bethlehem was here before and was maltreated by His brethren (keeping in mind the Joseph analogy).

Someone once noted that when we see a “therefore” in scripture, we need to pay close attention to what it’s ‘there for’. In this instance, I point out that the “therefore” (‘for this cause’) of verse 3 (Mic 5:3) stands in causal connection to the smiting of the ruler of Israel in Mic 5:1. The clear reference to the Messiah in verse 2 is significantly wedged in between verses 1 and 3, makes the identity of the smitten ruler of verse 1 unmistakable. The ‘therefore’ of Mic 5:3 is connected to the particular offense of verse 1, an offense surpassing all others. The smitten judge of verse 1 is not just any king of Israel, but the pre-existent ruler of David’s line who destroys the Antichrist (Isa 11:4; Mic 5:5-6) and establishes the kingdom that shall have no end.

Yahweh’s abandonment of both kingdoms to the long exile that ends only with Messiah’s advent is seen here to be based on something more than the idolatry and covenant infidelity from which there would be return and a measure of revival under the prophets, Zechariah and Haggai, Ezra, and Nehemiah. No, this implies something more, something that requires a national acknowledgement and contrite repentance as seen in Hos 5:15; Zech 12:10, and Mt 23:39. Such a long and unremitting experience of exile can only be explained by an offense that is on the scale of the national rejection (smiting) of God’s Messiah whom He calls His son in Ps 2:7. It should not be lost on our attention that the prophet Isaiah, who is a contemporary of Micah, uses the same language to describe the suffering servant of Isa 50 and 53 who is smitten by both the nation and by God as an atonement for sin. (compare, Ps 69:26; Isa 50:6; 53:4; Mic 5:1; Zech 13:7; Lam 3:30; Mt 26:31, 67-68; 27:30). .

Because it is so important to be clear on Israel’s predestined restoration to covenant favor, we are careful to emphasize that the “giving up” of Israel is never permanent, but only “UNTIL” the time of ‘Zion’s travail’. It is also important to point out that Micah’s reference to Israel’s travail is typical OT language for the great and unequaled tribulation (“Jacob’s trouble”) that ends in the spiritual birth or resurrection of the nation (compare Deut 4:30; Isa 13:8; 26:16-17; 66:8; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1; Hos 5:15; Mic 5:3).

Most will have heard of the coming “great tribulation”, referred to in popular idiom as ‘the apocalypse’. The concept of a final great tribulation of unequaled severity was once a common theme in the eschatology of Judaism. The transition from exile to redemption was understood to follow a time of great and unequaled tribulation, which the Rabbis called “the messianic woes,” or “the footsteps of the Messiah.”

The Micah passage is only the first plank of evidence. The strength of the argument is in the cumulative evidence for a foretold prophetic mystery that is distributed here and there throughout the writings of the prophets (1Pet 1:11; Ro 16:25-26).

Pointing out the implications of Micah 5:1-4 for both comings of Messiah to Israel provides the perfect opportunity to turn to another significant “until” passage from the Old Testament, Hos 5:15-6:2. Here again, a time of divine desertion is in view, which can be shown to correspond to the two days of exile and the age long chastisement that ends with Israel’s national repentance and resurrection (Hos 6:2 with Isa 26:19-20; Eze 37:5, 11-12; Dan 12:1-2; Hos 13:13-14).

Notice that in both the Hosea passage and the Micah passage; the cause for divine desertion is blamed, not on guilt or transgression in general, but on a singular ‘offense’ or transgression. The nation’s release from the judgment of exile and tribulation comes when this particular offense is acknowledged (Hos 5:15; Zech 12:10; with Mt 23:39; Acts 3:19-21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). Once again, we see that the transition comes “in their affliction” (Deut 4:30; Isa 48:10; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1). It is important to stress that the day of national deliverance is always depicted as coming after a brief, but unequaled time of national birth pangs, affliction, or tribulation called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Isa 26:17-18; 66:8; Mic 4:9; 5:3; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21).

Significantly, Hosea depicts the departure and return of God in language that fits the presence, departure, and return of the Messiah to His former place in heaven, as now ‘sit down’ (term of completion) at God’s right hand, “waiting till His enemies are made His footstool when He shall begin His rod-iron rule out of Zion (Ps 2:8-9; 110:1-2; Hos 5:15; Heb 10:12-13). It is important to point out that the One who departs to His place, returns when the offense that provoked His departure is finally acknowledged. This corresponds to Zech 12:10. “They shall look up Me whom they have pierced.” The manifest analogy with Joseph becomes even more compelling in light of Mt 23:39. “You will not see me again ‘till’ you will say, “Blessed is He who comes …” Zech 12:10, used with Mt 23:39, takes on glorious force in relationship to the prophetic type of Joseph’s reunion with his estranged brethren. It is the fitting dénouement to the most wonderful love story ever conceived.

The smiting of the divine son of David is the key to determining when the two days of Hos 6:2 begins. The time of Israel’s final giving up conincides with the two days that begins when the smitten ruler returns to His place at the Father’s right hand, expecting till His enemies are made His footstool at Antichrist’s destruction and the return of the kingdom to Israel. (compare Mic 5:1-5; Hos 5:15-6:3). This is the ultimate provocation that caused the One who “came to His own” but was ‘despised’ of the nation (Ps 22:6; Isa 49:7; 53:3; Hos 9:7; Jn 1:11) to “go away and return to His place” (Hos 5:15 w/ Ps 110:1-3; Mt 22:44; 26:64; Acts 1:11; 2:34; 3:21; 7:56; Ro 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3, 13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2). You can see how amazingly well Mic 5:1-4 and Hos 5:15-6:2 go together in setting forth the basic outline of prophetic history.

The order and the way one proceeds from here will be a matter of personal adaptation and choice, but at this point, I like to point out that the unexpected interval between two distinct comings of Messiah covers, not only the full time that God is hiding His face in disapproval (Deut 31:17-18; 32:20; Isa 8:17; Eze 39:24, 29), but it particularly marks the time that the Deuteronomic threat would be fulfilled that during Israel’s estrangement from covenant favor, another people, a ‘not a people’, would be called to make Israel jealous. (Deut 32:21; Isa Isa 49:5; 65:1; with Mt 21:43; Acts 14:27; 15:14; Ro 10:19; 11:11; 1Pet 2:9-10). This is the time of Messiah’s session at God’s right while His face remains hidden and the vision and prophecy remains sealed from the errant nation who have not yet come into the everlasting righteousness of the New Covenant in the Redeemer’s blood (Ps 110:1-2; Isa 8:14-17; Isa 59:20-21; Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24).

This great and unexpected reversal begins with rejection of the ‘corner stone’ (Isa 8:14-15; 28:16; Mt 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1Pet 2:8) and continues until the Spirit is poured out upon the surviving remnant (Ezek 39:28-29; Joel 2:28; Zech 12:10). “From that day and forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God (Ezek 39:22). “And I will not hide My face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel, says the Lord God” (Ezek 39:29; compare also Isa 8:17; 59:19-21; Ro 11:25-27). This basic order of ongoing covenant discipline and the hiding of God’s face between the advents needs to be brought to Jewish attention, so that what many refuse to consider now, they will consider perfectly. “In the latter days, you will consider it perfectly” (see Deut 32:29; Isa 1:3; 42:22-25; Jer 23:30; 30:24)

After the two days of divine absence (Mt 23:39) that perfectly parallels the age long “giving up” of Israel described in Mic 5:3 and Hos 5:15-6:2, the rejected ruler from Bethlehem returns to revive the blinded nation by a miracle of revelation and regeneration that accomplishes the return and reunion of His estranged brethren (the broken off branches) to begin His universal, rod-iron rule over the nations from a restored Zion (Mic 5:4). Notice how the language, “then the remnant of His brethren shall return” is so profoundly evocative of Joseph’s family reunion at the moment of his self revelation to his brethren who had formerly rejected and sold him.

If I am speaking to Christians who have heard of the millennium, I point out that the Jews are raised to live out the third day in His sight as a newly born / newly revived, entirely regenerate nation (Isa 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34 et al). Thus, the third day in which the resurrected nation lives in His sight, corresponds perfectly to the NT revelation of the thousand year reign that follows Messiah’s return.

With the national confession and repentance that concludes the second day, the resurrected nation then lives out the third day of millennial glory as an all living (fully regenerate) nation that has now come into the ‘everlasting righteousness’ of covenant promise (Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24). With the new heart that is no longer the experience of only a remnant, but the whole of an entirely regenerate nation, the Land can now be kept in abiding security, forever beyond the threat of curse and exile (2Sam 7:10; 1Chron 17:9; Isa 54:15-17; Jer 24:6-7; Eze 37:25-28; Am 9:14-15).

At this point, I will typically share my personal conviction that the two days should be reckoned from the point of the Lord’s return “to His place”.  The time of abandonment begins, not with the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., but when Jesus returned to His former glory in heaven, to take His seat of authority and rule at the Father’s right hand. There He remains until another great ‘until’ of prophecy, “until His enemies are made His footstool” (see Ps 110:1-2), and from thence He will return “at the set time to favor Zion” (Ps 102:13; 110:3). The following verse, Ps 110:3, shows that the same time Messiah’s enemies are made His footstool, the nation, long apostate, is made ‘willing in the day of His power” (i.e., the day of the Lord). With this, the long captivity is over forever, as the times of the gentiles close with the Deliverer’s descent out of Zion to turn ungodliness from Jacob (Lk 21:24; Ro 11:25-29).

In His parting words, Jesus declares to the nation who would not be gathered, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Mt 23:38-39). With Israel’s fall, a “door of faith” would now be opened to the gentiles (Deut 32:21; Isa 49:5; 65:1; Acts 14:27; 15:14; Mt 21:43; Ro 1:5; 10:19; 16:25-26; 1Pet 2:9).

The death of Jesus would mark an unexpected extension of the long night of exilic judgment that must continue “UNTIL the times of the gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk 21:24). In the meantime, something completely unexpected would interpose itself into the eschatological time line. That is the present calling out of the gentiles a people for His name (Mt 24:14; 28:19; Acts 14:27; 15:14; Ro 16:26). This was, of course, very much expected but only in connection with the ‘end’ of exile, never as a result of Israel’s greater fall and further hardening (Ro 11:11). Though fully ‘written’ and foretold in the prophetic writings, all of this belonged to the mystery hidden in other ages (Isa 8:16; 29:11; Acts 26:22; Ro 16:25-26; 1Cor 2:7-8; 1Pet 1:11).

Astonishingly, before Israel’s regeneration and return, before the tribulation (Zion’s travail; Isa 66:7-8), not with Israel’s deliverance and exaltation, but “through their fall” (Ro 11:11). This unexpected turn took everyone by surprise. “Though Israel be NOT gathered”, yet,  Messiah’s labor would not be in vain, but receive a more immediate reward and vindication among the gentiles (Isa 49:5-6; 65:1). Even while the saved remnant will continue to ‘wait on Him who hides His face from Israel’ (Isa 8:17), the sealed vision, what Paul calls the ‘hidden wisdom’ is ‘bound up and sealed among My disciples’ (Isa 8:16). It is the ‘mystery of the gospel’ by which the gentiles are made fellow partakers and joint heirs with the household of faith (Ro 16:25-26; Eph 2:19; 3:5-6; 6:18).

Paradox of paradox, only in this way could the Deuteronomic threat of Moses be fulfilled, that for a certain season, during the nation had been ‘given up’, another people (‘not a people’ / gentiles) would be blessed in their place. How better to understand the great extension of exilic judgment than by the nation’s failure to recognize “the time of their visitation” resulting in the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus? (Mt 23:39 with Lk 19:44; Acts 2:23). In this light, few things uttered by mortal lips could be more chilling and prophetic than the tragic self-imprecation invoked in Pilate’s judgment hall, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Mt 27:24-25).

By following through, using, and underlining for emphasis, the highly significant ‘tills’ and ‘untils’ of prophecy, the way is made clear to show that Israel’s blindness and exile is both temporary and everywhere connected to their national resurrection at Messiah’s return. With the question raised as to what great offense would be sufficient to condemn the nation to such an extended exile, one might turn to compare in Dan 9:26, where one called a ‘messiah’ is ‘cut off’, noting the same language is used to describe Isaiah’s suffering servant in Isa 53:8. Like Micah’s smitten king, He is likewise smitten, stricken, and despised of His own brethren (Isa 49:7; 50:6; 53:3-4). This comparison shows that the anonymous Servant in Isa 53 and the anointed Prince of Dan 9:26, are one and the same. He is the seed of the woman through whom the curse would be reversed by atoning substitution.

It is important to understand that the prophets well knew the implications of this most pregnant promise. Only one not under the curse could conceivably reverse it. Through unfolding revelation of David’s discernment of the significance of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek and his own investing of his future greater son with transcendent attributes of deity at God’s right hand (without “beginning of days”; Ps 110:4; Mic 5:2; Heb 7:3, or ‘end of days’; Isa 9:6-7), we may be very sure that the prophets foresaw, not only the sufferings of Messiah and the glories that would follow (1Pet 1:11), but also His necessary sinlessness and divine nature (Ps 2:7; 110:1, 4; Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; Mic 5:2; Jer 23:6).

As contemporaries in the southern kingdom of Judah, both Isaiah and Micah saw and foretold that the ruler from David’s line would be (in significant pattern with the sufferings of the rejected Joseph and the afflictions of David), rejected, despised, and ‘smitten’ by “His own brethren” (Ps 22:6, 16; Isa 49:7; 50:6; 53:3-4; Mic 5:1-3; Zech 12:10; Jn 19:37; Rev 1:7). They understood that before Messiah would enter into His glory, He would first be made a trap and snare for pride and unbelief, as the divinely ordained stone of stumbling (Isa 8:14; 28:6; Mk 12:10-11; Acts 4:11; Ro 9:32-33; 1Cor 1:23; 2Cor 2:16; 1Pet 2:4-8).  But it is just here, at the point of Israel’s greater fall by the rejection of their Messiah, that both Micah and Hosea, also contemporaries, speak of an extended time of divine abandonment (Mic 5:3; Hos 5:15).

Among the covenant curses of Deuteronomy it is written that while God’s face would be hidden from the nation (Deut 31:17-18), at the same time, He would be provoking them to jealousy by another people, a ‘not a people’, a ‘foolish nation’ (Deut 32:20-21). The foretold surrender of Israel over to an age long hardening (Job 34:29; Isa 6:9-11; 29:11) would never be more than partial, of course, since God would always preserve to Himself a remnant.

God’s face was never hidden from the remnant, but the prophets looked to the time when, not only a remnant, but all Israel would be saved, entirely, and without exception, all would be righteous and their children after them preserved in righteousness forever (Isa 4:3; 45:25; 54:13; 50:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34; 32:40 et al), when the face of God would no longer be hidden from any part of the now fully redeemed nation (Isa 8:17; Eze 39:22, 28-29).

This situation of a lively remnant in abiding contrast with a disobedient nation under judgment would continue only ‘UNTIL’ the Spirit is poured upon us from on high …” (Isa 32:15-17). Not the concurrence of the pouring out of the Spirit with the spiritual birth of the nation in one day (Isa 66:8; Zech 3:9; Eze 39:22) whereupon the erring nation will at last and forever enter into everlasting righteousness of the New Covenant (Isa 66:8; Jer 31:3131-34; Eze 11:19; 36:26-27). But note; a new spirit was always in times past available to the remnant who would turn to the Lord in repentance (Prov 1:23; Isa 55:1-3; Eze 18:31).

Not knowing the mystery of Messiah’s two comings and the purpose of God for the gentiles during an unexpected inter-advent period, nor the expansion of the remnant to include the wild branches from among the gentiles during an extended exile between the advents, the pouring out of the Spirit was always associated with the end of the final tribulation at the day of the Lord. The hiding of God’s face, not from the remnant, from whom His face was never hidden, but from the nation as a whole, ends forever with pouring out of the Spirit upon the newly born (Isa 66:8), resurrected (Isa 25:8; 26:19; Eze 37:12; Hos 6:2; 13:14) , and now entirely regenerate nation of penitent survivors at the end of the great and final tribulation (Isa 8:17; Isa 54:7-8; 57:17-18; 59:21; 64:7; Eze 36:26-27; 37:14; 39:8, 13; 22-24, 39; Joel 2:29-31; Zech 12:10).

Not only had Moses foretold the great anomaly of gentile salvation at the very time the face of God would be hidden from the larger nation, but Isaiah is just as clear, particularly when an exceptionally stubborn and much debated textual variant is duly considered. Time forbids giving an account and full documentation of the argumentation that has passed between both Jewish and Christian scholars, but the wording that is actually present in our surviving manuscripts (Kethiv) for Isa 49:5, but also questioned by the marginal reading (Quere) in some manuscripts, requires us to understand that Messiah’s mission to gather the tribes Israel would meet with momentary disappointment and seeming failure (“though Israel be NOT gathered”).

This momentary disappointment would be vindicated by the more immediate expansion of Messiah’s mission to bring the light of salvation to the nations and isles afar off (Isa 42:1; 49:1, 6), not AFTER Israel has been restored, but during the time that Israel is NOT gathered. Such a reading, along with Isa 65:1, suggests that the gathering of the gentiles would not be limited to the post-tribulational salvation of the nation, (which is no less true and forthcoming), but to the time that follows the rejection of Messiah, Jesus (Isa 49:7; 53:3; Mic 5:1; Zech 12:10).

This is just an opening for all the many evidences that can then, time permitting, be added to demonstrate the gospel in the Old Testament. Not only as a mystery that pertains to Christ’s two comings, but as a mystery that reveals God’s plan in all its glorious relationship to the fall and rising again of Israel. As I said, it provides a port of entrance by which one can move freely, fitting each additional piece into the framework that the mystery establishes of Messiah’s two comings and the extended judgment of exile that continues until His return.

It is certainly well known that the two comings of Christ were foretold in prophecy, but the approach that I am commending here underscores and proves the relation of the second coming to Israel in particular. Then all the great points of divine contention that the end events will press to ultimate intensity can be considered in their proper context. This is something much more than the mere acknowledgement of prophetic fulfillment. It raises all the great issues of God that surface when we understand that the end of the age comes in relation to what Isaiah calls the “controversy of Zion” (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2-3).

By demonstrating this structural outline of the mystery of Christ and Israel, one is able to verify from OT prophecy, that between the comings of Christ, the face of God is hidden from the nation at the very same time that God is provoking the Jew to jealousy by another people (the preponderantly Gentile church; Deut 32:21; Isa 49:5; 65:1 with Mt 21:43; Ro 10:19; 11:11). These scriptures establish the context and time for the calling out of a people from among the Gentiles (Acts 14:27; 15:14-18; Ro 11:15-17, 25) during the time that God is hiding His face from the nation as a whole (Deut 31:17-18; 32:20; Isa 8:17; Ezek 39:29).

I say “the nation as a whole,” because the face of God is not hidden from the elect remnant, among whom the testimony is sealed up and bound (Isa 8:16). The Spirit has already revealed the mystery of the gospel to the church (Ro 16:25-26 w/ Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10). What is waiting is for the Spirit to be poured out “in the whole house of Israel” at the day of the Lord (Isa 44:3; 59:21; Ezek 37:11, 14; 39:25, 29; Joel 2:28-29; Zech 12:10). Then will the ‘sealed vision’ be revealed to the penitent remnant of Israel by the outpoured Spirit of God (compare Isa 8:16-17 w/ Dan 9:24; Ezek 39:29; Zech 12:10) in the same way that the gospel was revealed by the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 3:18-21 w/ 1Pet 1:11-12). From this we can see that Israel’s national regeneration “in one day” (Isa 66:8; Ezek 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10) stands in remarkable analogy to the amazing sovereignty of Christ’s revelation of Himself to Paul on the Damascus road (Gal 1:15-16 w/ Ps 102:13).

Ezekiel is clear that “from that day and forward” (Ezek 39:22), God’s face will be no more hidden from the nation again forever (Ezek 39:28-29). From that time, every living Jewish survivor of the last tribulation (Jer 31:34), and every child ever born to Jewish parentage (Isa 54:13; 59:21), will ‘all’ (Isa 60:21; Jer 31:34) know the Lord in the glory of the everlasting covenant. This is the covenant background behind Paul’s statement, “And so ‘all’ Israel shall be saved” (Ro 11:26).

The gentile believer, no less than the Jewish believer, needs to be prepared to show the evidence of the gospel as a prophetic mystery contained in the Old Testament, not only for the useful goal of personal salvation, but because God has literally ‘commanded’ that the mystery of the gospel should be made known to all nations (not only to Jews) “by the scriptures of the prophets” (Acts 18:28; Ro 16:26). Prophecy is God’s own chosen method of witness (Isa 41:21-22; 42:9; 43:10-12; 44:7-8; 45:11; 46:9-10; Rev 19:10). It is like Paul’s reference to the weakness and ‘foolishness” of preaching; it is the approach that has “pleased God.”

From the standpoint of evangelism, the early church made a point to proclaim the gospel as a revelation a mystery (Eph 6:19) that was completely foretold in the Old Testament (Acts 26:22), but yet kept secret until the set time of revelation (Isa 8:16; 29:11; Ro 16:25-26). Should this also be our approach to evangelism? I believe it should for the following reasons:

Among Jews of the first century, the test for any truth claim was the question: “Does it stand written?” The revelation of the gospel was commended, by the apostles, to Israel on one basis only, namely, its agreement with what Moses and the prophets foretold. Approaching the witnessing task in this way does some very important things. At the same time that it validates the gospel, it also shows decisive evidence for the miracle of prophecy. The demonstration of the divine purpose of God in prophecy gives purpose and meaning to history, which opens a door of hope to the hopeless, even as it removes the intellectual excuse. (Even when our witness does not result in someone’s salvation, God has willed the removal of the “hiding place” for purposes of judgment (Ps 51:4; Isa 6:10; 28:13: Jn 15:22).

This original approach to evangelism also accomplishes something else that is very important but too slightly considered in modern times. It establishes the gospel as a mystery that was intentionally hidden until the time of its full revelation with the advent of the Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 3:18-21; Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11-12). We need to understand why the gospel of Christ was a mystery, because it bears greatly on how we understand the last days of this age.

There was a divine strategy to expose and defeat the principalities and powers of this present age by keeping the mystery of God’s hidden wisdom concerning Christ secret until after its accomplishment (compare Mk 8:30; 9:9; “see you tell no man;” w/ 1Cor 2:7-8; “For had they (the principalities and powers) known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory”). The mystery was a divinely prepared trap and snare against all self sufficient presumption, both human and demonic (Ps 69:22 w/ Isa 8:14-15; 28:16; Mt 21:42; 1Pet 2:6-8). In that sense, it was hidden for judgment (Jn 9:39).

Before its revelation, the gospel, though completely foretold, was a divinely designed mystery (the sealed testimony or vision; Isa 8:16; 29:11; Dan 9:24; 12:4, 9) prepared to function not only as revelation to the repentant, but as judgment to the impenitent. The church needs to present the gospel for the mystery that it was, and also for the revelation that it will yet be to the penitent survivors of Jacob’s trouble at the future day of the Lord.

The mystery of the gospel includes both comings of Christ, and the second coming is inextricably related to literal-physical Israel and all that pertains to the Antichrist, the tribulation, and Christ’s return at the day of the Lord. The greater mystery of God (Rev 10:7), “the mystery of His will” (Eph 1:9), or “the eternal purpose which He purposed in Christ” (Eph 1:11), reveals God’s predestined means of fulfilling in literal detail His everlasting covenant with Israel. That is why it is so essential that the church understand its relationship to Israel’s future grace, since it is the same covenant of sure mercies, as established with Abraham and David.

In order for the hidden wisdom of God’s prophetic purpose in Christ to be concealed from the demonic realm, it was also necessary that it be hidden from man as well (Mt 13:35; Ro 16:25; Eph 3:5). Even after the mystery of the gospel has been revealed to the church in its outward form, its inner essence remains hidden and inaccessible to pride (Mt 11:25; 1Cor 2:14). It is not enough that the outward form of the gospel be only understood with the mind; it must be quickened by the Spirit, as only revelation by the Spirit is sufficient to create lasting inward transformation (2Cor 3:18). Enough evidence will make even a devil “believe” (Ja 2:19), but true trust in God is foreign to our nature. It must be in-wrought by the life giving Spirit of God.

This understanding of the ways of God in mystery as judgment, and through revelation as mercy, saves the church from taking for granted the extravagant cost and scope of the work of God with both Jew and gentile in His continual war against the pride of self-reliance. It brings into view a further aspect of God’s ability to accomplish both judgment and salvation by His wise use of a prophetic mystery that is at once His glory and special delight.

Paul spoke about the “fellowship of the mystery” (Eph 3:9 KJV), as a “hidden wisdom, which God decreed before the ages for our glory” (1 Cor 2:7). This carries huge implications for the church, not only for its more intelligent appreciation of the cost and glory of the gospel, but for its understanding of the modern crisis of Israel as we approach the concluding stages of the same prophetic mystery, as this mystery will again confront Israel (Isa 28:11-18), the church (Ro 11:25; 1Pet 4:17), and the nations (Ps 2:1-2, 6; Isa 29:7-8; 34:2, 8; Dan 11:28, 30; 40-45; Joel 3:2; Zeph 3:8; Zech 12:2-3, 9; 14:2-3).

It raises the issue of God’s employment of mystery and revelation in His conquest of Satan (Dan 10:12-13; 1Cor 2:7-8; Rev 12:7-10), as it also tests and exposes the hearts of men. Although the prophetic mystery that stumbled Israel is now an open secret, it remains hidden from the pride of impenitence (Isa 28:21). Such a concept of revealed mystery by a God who “hides Himself” (Isa 45:15) provides a radical readjustment of how God is perceived in this aspect of His judgment upon all human and demonic autonomy. If the ultra religious sects of Israel was not spared in the day of an unrecognized visitation (Lk 19:44), how shall the pride of the church be spared (Ro 11:21; 1Pet 4:17), as we near the time that the “the mystery of God” (Rev 10:7) is about to be finished?

In conclusion, this plan of presentation shows the basic outline of history in prophecy, and makes sense of the unexpectedly long interval that has already passed between the first and second comings, which brings us now full circle again to an imminent world crisis over Jerusalem as a modern cup of trembling, evoking all the great issues of God that conclude the age. It makes sense out of all that has followed in Jewish history.

The case for a future tribulation that is focused primarily on the nation of Israel opens up opportunity to call attention to the contemporary fulfillment of prophecy and to draw out the implications of current trends. Time permitting, particularly when witnessing to Jews; one could expand on the ancient contention of the covenant (Lev 26; Deut 28-32; Ezek 20:37), and the explanation this provides for the mystery of Jewish suffering throughout history. The way is then made to show that the great goal of the covenant and the solution to the crisis of Jewish history is the revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ. This is the crux; all else is secondary by comparison. The entire New Testament is occupied to expound the righteousness promised to Israel in the everlasting covenant. (“For therein (the gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed… But now the righteousness of God is manifested …; Ro 1:17; 3:21-22, 25-26; 10:3-4; 16:26).

In covenant and prophecy, all lines lead to the revelation of Messiah as “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:6). No other righteousness is adequate to fulfill the law and no other sacrifice is acceptable to assuage divine wrath. The imputed righteousness of Christ is the “the everlasting righteousness” (Isa 26:12; 45:24-25; 54:17; Jer 23:6; 32:40; Dan 9:24) of covenant promise that will enable Israel to keep the Land forever. It is the righteousness revealed to the church at the end 69th week of Daniel, as it will be revealed to the penitent remnant of Israel at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week, fitting the newly born nation (Isa 66:8) for its millennial inheritance.

The gap that the above scriptures expose between Christ’s two advents can be discerned in Daniel’s famous prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan 9:24-27). A hidden age between the advents is a common characteristic of Old Testament prophecy, where both comings of Christ are often blended in the same prophecy without clear distinction. The phenomenon also appears in many passages where near and distant aspects of prophecy are combined.

We need to understand that God deliberately concealed the foretold gospel of Christ in the form of a prophetic mystery, revealed in parts and pieces (“here a little, and there a little”) throughout the prophetic writings of the Old Testament (Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11-12). This needs to be underscored, because Daniel’s mysterious prophecy of the seventy weeks constitutes a perfect example of the OT mystery of Messiah’s coming, departure, and return to Israel, as a secret, divinely sealed and ‘kept under wraps’, or ‘encrypted’ (the Hebrew sense of Isa 8:16 according to Keil and Delitzsch) until its revelation by the Spirit (compare also Dan 9:24; 12:4, 9; Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11-12 etc.)

This is not the place to make the full case, but the seventy weeks are strategically constructed around the two great mysteries of incarnation (the woman’s and the serpent’s seed of Gen 3:15) that mark the beginning and the end of this present age. In One (“Messiah the Prince”), the mystery of godliness is revealed (1Tim 3:16). In the other, “the prince that shall come” heads up the mystery of iniquity, which Paul shows must be revealed before Christ can return (2Thes 2:7).

It can be demonstrated beyond reasonable dispute that the final week (Dan 9:27) of Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan 9:24-27) is not in reference to Christ but the Antichrist. Therefore, a gap is necessarily observed between the 69th and 70th weeks. The controversy over whether the 70th week of Daniel is future, resolves itself into one decisive question: “Which of the two princes stops the daily sacrifice?” If the evidence within the immediate context of the book is given due priority, the answer is irrefutable. It is “the one who exalts himself” (compare Dan 8:11 w/ Dan 11:31-37; 2Thes 2:4).

Furthermore, chapter 12 of Daniel is particularly decisive in making the case for the futurity of Daniel’s final week, because it makes clear that the sacrifice that is stopped in “the middle of the week” in Dan 9:27, happens approximately 3 ½ years (1290 days) before the resurrection of the dead (compare Dan 12:1-2 with Dan 12:11; see also, Dan 7:25; 12:7; Rev 11:2-3; 12:16, 14; 13:5). To suppose that the 70th week of Daniel follows the 69th in unbroken succession is to ignore the internal evidence within the book, but worse, it is to miss the divinely intended mystery that will continue to offend the rationalism of higher criticism.

So the great tribulation is clearly the second half of the last seven years that starts with a covenant or league (Dan 9:27; 11:23) that is made with “the prince that shall come.” He is the Antichrist (“little horn” or “Man of Sin”) who makes the “covenant with death hell” that seduces Israel into a false sense of security (Isa 28:15-18; Dan 11:24 ASV). The false security that results from this ill-fated peace treaty (Ezek 38:8, 11, 14) prepares the way for the “sudden destruction” (1Thes 5:3) of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21). Therefore, the tribulation starts at the mid point of the week when the Antichrist violates the covenant that he earlier confirmed at the start of the week (Dan 9:27; 11:23-31).

No single prophecy could ever be more important for the end time church to understand (“Let the reader understand;” Mt 24:15) than Daniel’s prophecy of the seventy weeks (Dan 9:24-27). Careful attention to Daniel is vital for opening up and showing so much else that is critically relevant for the church’s preparation for its role in these last days towards Israel and the nations (Dan 11:33; 12:3, 10). The specific chronology of Daniel is particularly dreaded by Satan, because his eviction by Michael in the middle of week (Rev 12:9-10) is directly related to the prophetic countdown of events that start with the beginning of Daniel’s seventieth week.

[Note 1: That the book of Daniel has suffered greater attack by liberal scholarship than any other book of the Bible should alert the conservative believer to Satan’s special fear and hatred of its contents. (see Sir Robert Anderson’s, “Daniel in the Critics Den.” More recently, Josh McDowell has written an update of Anderson’s material by the same title.)]

[Note 2: The futurity of the entire seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week was specifically affirmed by Hippolytus (170-236 AD) in his “Treatise on Christ and Antichrist” (Ante Nicene Fathers Vol 5, Pt. 2:43). Hippolytus was a disciple of Irenaeus, who was a disciple of Polycarp, who was a disciple of John. So the really presumptuous allegation that the gap between the 69th and 70th weeks of Daniel is an invention of modern 19th century dispensationalism is patently false. On the contrary, the much maligned “gap theory” is intrinsic to the mystery of Christ in the Old Testament.]

Reggie

After Two Days He Will Revive Us…

Posted: July 31st, 2017, by Reggie Kelly

Originally published in Oct of 2013, we are bringing this article back to the front page for reference of an up-coming article.

“After two days He will revive us; the third day we shall live in His sight” (Hos 6:2).”

According to the NT, the gospel reveals a mystery that was at once fully foretold in the writings of the prophets (Acts 26:22; Ro 16:25-26; Rev 10:7), but divinely concealed from both men and angels until the appointed time (Mk 8:30; 9:9; 1Cor 2:7-8). For example, all who accept the witness of the NT will recognize that Messiah’s twofold advent was not clearly distinguished before the gospel was revealed with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (1Pet 1:11-12). Whereas every aspect of the gospel was “according to the scriptures (Acts 26:22; 1Cor 15:3-4), Paul would nonetheless speak of it as a mystery (Eph 6:19-20 with Col 4:3-4). Its revelation in the ‘fullness of time,’ would bring to light all of the other related mysteries described in the NT (Ro 11:25-29; Eph 1:9-10; 3:4-5, 9-10; Col 1:26; 4:3-4; 1Tim 3:9, 16). Paul’s reference to the gospel as a mystery is anticipated by Jesus’ reference to the ‘mystery of the kingdom of God’ (Mk 4:11). At the heart of both is the formerly unknown fact that Messiah was to come twice.

The Spirit’s revelation of the gospel gives a clarity of hindsight that enables the detection of both comings in a number of OT prophecies that before would have been quite indistinguishable, particularly as it pertains to the time (1Pet 1:11). Often, aspects of both comings are mysteriously intermingled, or side by side, without clear distinction, with no clear evidence of an inter-advent period between. The present age thus forms the mysterious ‘gap’ between the advents that has been so much belittled in certain scholarly circles. However, had Messiah’s substitutionary atonement, and therefore His twofold advent, NOT been hidden until the appointed time, the princes of this age would not have crucified the Lord of glory (1Cor 2:7-8). Moreover, the mystery would not have accomplished its further purpose to test hearts and stumble pride.

The point to be made here is that the mystery of the gospel, and God’s wise use of it, is not something merely ‘hidden in God.’ All is contained in the prophets and God is glorified when the gospel is vindicated by reference to what was foretold. Every part of the mystery of the gospel is “according to the scriptures” (Lk 24:44-46; Acts 3:18-21; 26:22; Ro 16:25-26; 1Cor 15:3-4; 1Pet 1:11), but the prophecies were so given and arranged in a form and manner that was divinely calculated to conceal the cross and the knowledge that Christ should come twice until the time appointed.

Paul understood the great commission (“the commandment of the everlasting God”) as a call to preach the gospel as it was indeed “according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began. But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets (the instrumental means), according to the commandment of the everlasting God, (to be) made known to all nations for the obedience of faith.” God is most glorified when the divinely commanded means is properly united to its evangelistic goal.

I am suggesting that if Paul’s statement is unpacked for its full implications, then here we have God’s prescriptive command for the true apostolic approach to evangelism that was practiced all throughout the book of Acts. Built right into the proclamation of the gospel is the divinely intended apologetic. Only as the gospel could be shown to conform in all points to what stood written in the prophets was it to be accorded any credence at all (Acts 26:22). “The testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy” (Rev 19:10b).

This divinely ordained mystery is contained completely in the prophetic scriptures, verified and confirmed by its manifest conformity to the same (Acts 26:22; Ro 16:25-26), but it also reveals a parenthetical, hidden age that could only come to light after the revelation of the mystery of Messiah’s coming, departure, and return to Israel. With this advance in understanding, an unforeseen age discovers itself between the two advents of Jesus. However, although this age was not foreseen or clearly distinguished by the prophets (1Pet 1:11), it was nonetheless fully foretold.

Sometimes called, ‘the double horizon of prophecy’, it is a well noted characteristic of Hebrew prophecy to envision events widely separated in time as part of a single sweep of eschatological fulfillment.  In other words, the events belonging to Israel’s eschatological judgment and salvation were often presented as a single complex, with no clear indication of the considerable time that might elapse between undetectable stages of fulfillment.

Prophecies of a near range fulfillment anticipated in the contemporary crisis would include details of the ultimate redemption that did not follow, or fully come to pass after the threatened judgment that was, very remarkably fulfilled to the letter. How is this to be understood? How is it that the threatened judgments are so faithfully fulfilled when the extravagantly lavish descriptions of national salvation have either failed or been manifestly postponed?  

It seems apparent that even the prophets recognized, to some extent, this phenomenon of the near and far horizon within some of their own prophecies.  Fully knowing that earlier prophets, such as Isaiah, Micah, and Hosea had depicted the final redemption against the backdrop of the impending Assyrian invasion, the later prophets did not hesitate to apply some of these same prophecies, employing the same note of threatening imminence, to the impending invasion of Babylon or some more distant aggressor.

This observation suggests that the prophets themselves were keenly aware of a typology of the march of kingdoms and hostile ‘Antichrist’ figures (the ‘Assyrian’; the ‘Chaldean’, etc.) so that, for them, a contemporary, partial fulfillment of the ultimate day of the Lord did not disappoint nor exhaust their own abiding expectation of a yet greater, more complete and final fulfillment in the future. We might call this ‘pattern eschatology’.

It is also remarkable to observe how prophets living more than an hundred years after their predecessors would continue to use the same language of imminence (‘at hand’; ‘near’; ‘greatly hasting’) to describe the ultimate day of the Lord and final salvation of the nation, well after the foretold invasion of Assyria had come and gone. It seems the later prophets were able to understand a kind of abiding, ‘existential’ imminence that could as well apply to later generations facing similar judgment, even if the full and final eschatological deliverance of the nation was not yet.

Such a ‘first-fruits’ or advance ‘earnest’ of ultimate eschatological fulfillment, as well observed in the well known ‘already and not yet’ pattern of NT fulfillment, is not without OT precedent. It can be seen in the experience of the return of the exiles from Babylon. There was real fulfillment of the promise (the already) but not yet the full realization of ‘all’ the covenant had promised with all the highly descriptive elaborations of the prophets.

Remarkably, many of the prophecies describing the return would be presented as accomplishing the full and final redemption, without clear distinction of the stages of fulfillment that would supervene.  Such a telescopic view of prophecy is endorsed by evangelicals who recognize the authority and witness of the NT, but it is not so warmly received by critical scholars, both liberal and Jewish, who charge evangelicals with “eisegesis” (reading ‘into’ the text what one is interested to find).

Indeed, the early church’s view that the prophetic writings held a secret to be revealed by the Spirit in the last days (a view also held by the sectaries at Qumran), would not have passed muster with the critical norms and standards of modern exegesis and hermeneutical science, but all of this forms the background and context that is fully consistent with what the NT will speak of as a mystery contained in the prophetic writings, but intentionally preserved by God until the appointed time of revelation. The intent of the heavenly secrets were to function as a strategy of heavenly warfare to confound and overturn the wisdom of the powers of this age, both human and angelic.

I point this out because I hold a view of Hos 6:2 that is part of this mystery of Christ’s coming, departure, and return to Israel. As mentioned, the revelation of two comings of Messiah discovers a hidden age that would extend from Messiah’s ascension to the end of the times of the gentiles at the end of the great tribulation (Lk 21:24 with Rev 11:2). This is the long exile of covenant wrath and discipline during which Israel would remain under a judicial blindness, as God would “return to His place,” and hide His face from the nation, as a whole (Deut 31:17-18; 32:20; Isa 8:17; 54:8; 64:7; Eze 39:23-24, 29). This would continue until the transitional ‘day of the Lord,’ now revealed as Messiah’s second coming.

A favorite example of this mystery is demonstrated in the better translations of Mic 5:1-5. Here, both comings appear in the space of a few verses. The words, “Now gather yourself in troops, oh daughter of troops,” should be understood as prophetic sarcasm or taunt aimed at the futility of the nation’s tendency to trust in its military when it is not merely the king of Assyria, but Yahweh Himself who has “laid siege against us” (Mic 5:1). Most commentators interpret the rest of the verse, “they shall smite the judge of Israel with a rod upon the cheek,” as merely referring to the indignity inflicted on the contemporary king of Israel by the Assyrian invaders. But is this sufficient cause for what follows in Mic 5:3?: “Therefore (for this cause) will He give them up.” Let these words resonate. These are words that chill the soul, as they summon contemplation of a staggeringly tragic history.

Note that this is no momentary ‘giving up’ but continues to the day of redemption that ends the exile forever with the advent of the ruler from Bethlehem. What great provocation, then, can account for such a prolonged surrendering of a people over to perpetual wandering and suffering to the end of the long exile? The prophets are clear that it is a matter of the heart. For the far larger part, the nation has departed from Yahweh’s steadfast covenant love, and violence against this covenant love has incurred the curse. But here, in this passage, a more particular offense is in view. A trajectory of covenant dereliction has reached its climax. “Therefore (for this cause) will He give them up …” Such words can only indicate some act of ultimate provocation.

What is this that seals the nation’s perpetuity in exile until its eschatological resolution in the travail of Zion when the Redeemer, the ruler from Bethlehem, shall come in mighty deliverance? (Isa 59:20-21; 66:8; Jer 30:6-7). Can this be accounted for by anything less than some crowning act that epitomizes and exposes to view Israel’s tendency to trust in man rather than God, a tendency to “always resist the Holy Spirit” (Acts 7:51). It is this tendency that reaches climactic revelation in Israel’s own rejection of her King who is none other than Isaiah’s ‘Servant of Yahweh’ whom the nation would abhor and reject (Isa 49:7; 53:3). Since this great act of the rejection of Immanuel in their midst, the nation has been surrendered to blindness, but never forever. It is always only ‘UNTIL …’ (Mic 5:3; Hos 5:15; Mt 23:39; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:25).

Both Isaiah and Micah had spoken of the time of ultimate travail as concurrent with the eschatological day of the Lord, preceding the restoration of the Davidic kingdom of God on earth (Isa 13:8; 21:3;  26:16-18; 66:7-8; Mic 4:9-10; 5:3). Later, Jeremiah and other of the prophets would refer to this time of ultimate birth pangs as synonymous with Moses’ mention of the tribulation of the latter days (Deut 4:30; Jer 30:6-7, 24; Hos 5:15). It is ‘THEN’ that all the prophets concur that “the remnant of His (Messiah’s) brethren shall return.” Until then, Israel has been delivered over to the judicial blindness that is only removed at the Deliverer’s return to turn ungodliness from Jacob (Isa Ro 11:25-27).

Therefore, the particular offense that provokes the age long ‘giving up’ of Israel can be nothing less than the national sin of “smiting of the judge (ruler) upon the cheek.” The reason for so grave and awful a judgment, one that has lasted so long, is that the judge or ruler of verse one is no ordinary king. He is the ruler from Bethlehem, the Messiah from David’s line.

Only a provocation of such a magnitude is sufficient to account for those solemn and awful words that history has so tragically vindicated, “therefore, He shall give them up” (Mic 5:3). But for how long? Israel is ‘given up UNTIL’ the time that she who has come to travail has brought forth.” When is this? It is the time like no other; “it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Joel 2:2; Jer 30:7: Dan 12:1). Following Moses, the prophets would continue to foretell of a an ultimate time of national travail and rebirth that would climax in the great day of the Lord (Isa 13:8-9; 26:17; 66:8; Jer 30:6-7; Mic 5:3 etc.). After Zion’s travail, the remnant of His brethren, who now recognize Messiah, as typified by Joseph’s self-disclosure to his estranged brethren, returns to the children of Israel. “For now shall He (the smitten ruler from Bethlehem) be great unto the ends of the earth” (compare Zech 9:9-10), and He shall stand and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God; for now shall they abide (Israel’s millennial continuance in peace and righteousness): And this man shall be the peace …” (Mic 5:3-5).

With Mic 5 as background, Hos 5:15 – 6:2 comes gloriously into full light. Hos 5:15 can, of course, be naturally understood to refer to nothing more than the provocation that induced Yahweh to descend in judgment on Israel through the Assyrian, the rod of His indignation (Isa 10:5), and then to withdraw His presence and protection, as when the glory departed from the temple in Ezekiel chapters 10 and 11. Such a view is certainly in keeping with the pattern of judgment threatened the curses of the covenant of the covenant law suit in Deut 28-32, as continually reiterated and enforced by the prophets on the conscience of Israel. But in light of the glory of the mystery, the language of Hos 5:15 transcends any such limitation. Thus, it is far better taken to refer to an even more significant departure from the temple, even Jesus’ departure back to His Father’s right hand when He said, “Behold, Your house is left to you desolate. For I say to you, after this you will not see me again “UNTIL” you will say, BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD” (Mt 23:39). This is the time of Christ session at the right hand of God, as foretold in Ps 110 (another key “UNTIL” of prophecy). The language of Hos 5:15 is no accident! Pay close attention to this unusual language that so richly suggests what the mystery will reveal as the first and second comings of Christ: “I will return again to My place Till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; In their affliction (Jacob’s trouble) they will earnestly seek Me.”

In view of what follows in Hos 6:1-2, how can it be lightly dismissed that this has something much more in view than only the idolatry of the northern kingdom? Rather, is this not the post-tribulational acknowledgement of the nation’s crowing offense? The offense that summed up a history of idolatry and apostasy? (Acts 7:51-52). It is not mere “guilt” or “trespasses” (plural), as in some translations. It is the consummate “offense” or ‘trespass” (singular) of the nation in the rejection of the Messiah. This is what is acknowledged at at time of great affliction that ends the elect nation’s long night of exile and estrangement from covenant favor (Hos 3:5). With this acknowledgement, the One who was here and departed now returns to revive the nation that will live out the third day in His sight of God as a resurrected nation. The Revelation of John will provide the key that permits us to identify the ‘third day” with the thousand year reign of Christ Jesus.

It is well known that before the time of Christ, there were conceptions that history would follow the analogy of creation week, for each day a thousand years. This tradition is referred to in the “Epistle of Barnabas,” which appears in vol. 1 of the Ante-Nicene Fathers. By no means am I alone in believing that the two days of Hos 6:2 signifies the time between the advents, but if it is true that a day stands for a thousand years, it means that the “set time” for Israel’s post-tribulational new birth and resurrection (Eze 37; 39:22, 28-29 with Isa 66:8; Mic 5:3), has always been two thousand years from the national rejection of the Son. The two days begins with the smiting, piercing, and ‘cutting off’ of the Messiah (Isa 53:8; Dan 9:26; Zech 12:10) and ends with the post-tribulational revival, so that nation will live out the third millennial day, as a living resurrected nation, with all their children taught of the Lord (Isa 54:13; 59:21; Jer 31:34). During this unforeseen, but certainly foretold interim, the covenant nation would be blinded, while a door of faith would be opened to the gentiles (Acts 14:27; 15:14; Ro 11:7). According to Paul, this is the time that Moses’ prophecy would be fulfilled that said that as Israel had moved God to jealousy by that which was ‘not God,’ so He would move them to jealousy by a ‘not a people’ (Deut 32:21 with Ro 10:19; 11:11). As they had hidden their face from Him (Isa 53:3), so He would hide His face from them (Deut 31:17-18; 32:20; Isa 8:17; 54:8; 64:7; Eze 39:23-24, 29). As nothing else, this would explain the unexpectedly long delay between the advents.

When the Messiah was smitten, pierced, and cut off, Israel was ‘given up.’ That is the language of divine abandonment, and some translations translate it thus, even the Jewish translation. This is the time that God would not only hide His face, He would quite literally “go away and return to His place” (at the Father’s right hand) TILL the nation would acknowledge their offense at a time of great affliction. This is exactly what the NT leads us to believe that Israel will do as they see Him whom they pierced (Zech 12:10 with Mt 24:39; 24:30; Acts 3:19-21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). They will acknowledge a corporate complicity in Messiah’s death, a complicity that all fallen humanity shares in equally.

This is how a generation nearly two thousand years removed from their forebears can own to themselves the piercing of the Messiah (compare Mt 23:30-36). Therefore, in a context that anticipates the “end of sin” (Dan 9:24), the national resurrection that is implied in Hos 6:1-3 means that the acknowledgement of Hos 5:15 can have no lesser ‘offense’ in view than the consummate offense of the nation’s corporate rejection of the Messiah (Acts 2:23; 3:14-15, 17; 4:10-11; 7:51-52). The implications of such language can have no lesser meaning than the age long estrangement of blinded Israel between the two advents. No other interpretation does justice to the divine sacrifice that is implied in God’s surrender of His beloved prodigal nation to the sword and to continuous exile. This must continue, and any Jewish reader of the Hebrew Bible should should be able to recognize that God’s face will remain hidden from the nation, as a whole, until a surviving remnant is born into holy nationhood at the day of the Lord, after passing through the throes of an unequaled tribulation (Deut 4:30; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1).

If this interpretation of the two days is true, then it is no wonder that Israel is back in the Land and Jerusalem is increasingly the cup of trembling that prophecy predicts (Zech 12:2-3). All present trends suggest that all that remains that is necessary to set the stage for the final seven years will be coming speedily into place. “For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.”

Regardless of what is ‘behind’ in the faith of the faithful, this can be ‘filled up’ very quickly (1Thes 3:10), because God is not waiting for man to ‘get his act together’ but He will arise and act, as He knows how to bring the foretold constraints and inducements that are calculated to take His people where they would not have gone (Jn 21:18), even very quickly (Ps 110:3; 102:13 with Gen 17:21)

If, however, this interpretation of Hos 6:2 is true, then God is greatly glorified by such amazing precision, showing His absolutely foreknown and predetermined schedule to His children (“those things that are revealed belong to us and to our children”). We certainly have precedent for this kind of chronological accuracy in the prophetic chronology of Daniel’s amazing prophecy of the seventy weeks. The really much debated question is whether God ever intends that we should have some knowledge of the time. Is there ever a time that it will be possible to know the time? Daniel’s prophecy is one clear example. Who, knowing the prophecy of the seventy weeks, would not also know something about where they stood in relation to the time of the Lord’s first advent, what those living before the revelation of the mystery would have understood as also the time that the kingdom would be restored to Israel. For 490 years, it was quite possible to know, at least with some degree of proximity, how near or distant one stood to the time of the great messianic redemption, as it was conceived by Jews living before the cross.

I maintained this view of the two days of Hosea very strongly amid the false excitement that came when many took the ’93 Oslo peace accords to be the false covenant that begins the 7 years. You’ll remember when Yassir Arafat and Yitzak Rabin shook hands in agreement in front of then president Clinton in those famed photographs. In those days, many insisted that the two days of Hosea should be reckoned from Christ’s birth. I would point out a number of things that should have followed the beginning of the 7 years that was clearly NOT in place, precluding even the possibility. Not least was the necessity of the daily sacrifice, since certainly there could be no stopping of a sacrifice in the “holy place” at Jerusalem if it had not first been started. Nothing in the Oslo accord had moved any closer to the unthinkable prospect of Jewish access to the Arab controlled temple mount, something that is feverishly guarded to this day.

Nothing could prevail to dissuade the advocates of that view until after the year 2000 had completely come and gone. It will be quite different when the real thing comes, because shortly after the false peace, the sacrifice that will be stopped in the middle of the week will be in clearly in place. Its removal in conjunction with the Antichrist’s desecration of the ‘holy place’ in Jerusalem starts the great tribulation (Mt 24:15-16, 21 with Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:1, 11; 2Thes 2:4; Rev 11:2: 12:7-14). In the full context of all that will accompany and confirm this compelling sign, resistance and denial at this late stage will be a manifestation of the most advanced kind of unbelief. For the faithful, there will be no uncertainty as to the time, and this will have a deep working of sober urgency all throughout the body of Christ, as can hardly be imagined.

The false alarms of prophetic speculation that has littered the landscape of church history could have all been avoided if even the most basic order of events had been kept in proper order. This requires close and careful observance, all by the grace of the Spirit, of course, but we have in print a number of keen writers from past generations who knew and taught this basic outline (it is nothing new). Some were clear in their insistence that nothing on the immediate horizon gave any certain evidence of a near fulfillment. In no small part, this balance of judgment and clarity was due to a studied commitment to interpret prophecy in its plain and literal sense, not discounting, of course, the manifest use of symbol and imagery. In every case throughout history and today, the false alarms of prophetic speculation derives from a tendency to separate what God has joined.

Failure after embarrassing failure has only strengthened the argument that the time can never, and should never be known. But now as then, there is a time to know the time, just as when Jesus would rebuke the nation for not knowing the time of its visitation (Lk 19:44). But “seventy weeks are determined,” and whatever ambiguity may have attended this prophecy before the revelation of the mystery, still, the Jews of Jesus’ day should have known, by any reckoning, that the end of Daniel’s seventy sevens was imminently at hand. Doubtless, this is why Luke’s gospel would say that ‘all men were in expectation” (Lk 3:15). According to Jesus, ignorance of the time was reprehensible and worthy of divine rebuke. That seventy weeks were to be reckoned from the well known decree of the king of Persia to the time of the messianic redemption was NOT a mystery to those who received the scripture. For Israel, it was time to know the time, as also the time between would have precluded any false view of imminence.

Regardless of one’s view of the time of the rapture, if scripture is interpreted literally, it will be unmistakable to believers living at the time that they are in the unequaled tribulation. Since this will be marked by clearly revealed signs that require that certain preceding conditions be in place, believers will have great occasion to see the tribulation coming before it arrives. Who then can deny that it will be possible, at that time, to know the time, at least very approximately. If God has revealed it, then it becomes part of the believer’s stewardship, so that to not know the time when it is time that we should know it, is to reflect seriously on the condition of the heart. This is particularly true as the evidence mounts in the face of the most openly manifest and prolific fulfillment of prophecy in all of history. What was once a subject for speculation and debate becomes, at a certain advanced stage, a manifestation of the true disposition of the heart. It will be a dispensation of divine requirement, a new watershed of division and crisis of decision.

Those who recognize that the mystery of the gospel reveals an unforeseen gap between the 69th and 70th week of Daniel agree that there is yet a further installment on the divine calendar that is very well defined. Indeed, believers of that time will know with certainty that the peace arrangement that provides for Jewish return to the temple mount is not just another peace initiative in the perennially troubled Mideast. At this time, the sacrifice will again be in place and Israel will presume itself secure. This will not be done in a corner.

Such a compelling sign will only be resisted by the most advanced kind of unbelief. For the faithful remnant, there will be NO question of the time. Let me be clear that I do not put any confidence in my dream, except as something to hold in my heart. The apparent stress on the time is what impressed me most. I am, however, quite assured that the interpretation is correct that sees the two days of Hos 6:2 to be referring to the the time between the advents, between Israel’s rejection of Messiah and the revelation that comes to them at the time of His return. For this, a very considerable case can be made, as you may remember from the piece I did on Mic 5:1-4 and the Joseph analogy. The argument builds on a great deal more than mere assumption that the two days is equivalent to two thousand years.

Still, if the time rolls around and the particular line up of events required by prophecy are not in place and in clear view, then it will be obvious that I was wrong to read such specificity into Hos 6:2, as some translations leave out both the ‘two days’ and the “third day,” translating the passage thus: “He will restore us in a very ‘short time;’ he will heal us in a ‘little while,’ so that we may live in his presence.” Such presumption and liberty with the text is not translation; it is at best interpretation. In any event, the two days of Hos 6:2 has been anything but “short” for the Jewish people. The view I take of Hos 6:2 is only as good as it can be shown to belong to a whole complex of events that stand together.Only if and when the necessarily accompanying signs are all in place in proper relationship will our view be sufficiently confirmed to hold anyone else accountable to believe it. I present this only for those who will hold it tentatively in the hearts in the event trends move swiftly in the right direction. If that proves to be so, then who will not rejoice and stand in awe of yet another glorious example of the God who declares the end from the beginning, a tremendously edifying reality, already well enough demonstrated to make unbelief utterly without excuse.

For all who wait for the consolation of Israel, surely, these be the days! Reggie

Pre-Wrath vs Post-Trib

Posted: June 10th, 2017, by Reggie Kelly

I was recently talking with someone about the Pre-Wrath view. The way I understand it, it seems so close to Post-trib with maybe a few minor distinctions. And it’s all up to the interpreter as well, but what scriptures can we use to defend Post-trib, or does it even matter that much?

I think it matters, not just for the practicalities of the dangers that may surface if the truth is not clear when the time arrives, but even more for the harmony of scripture to the greater glory of God.

There are so many in and outs of the pre-wrath position. On the one hand, they surrender the principal pillar of pre-tribulationism, namely, the doctrine of imminence, while retaining the really ridiculous pre-trib concept that for the church to be exempted from divine wrath, she must be removed from the earth. Tell that to the Jews who aren’t even saved till Jesus’ return to destroy the AC and establish His millennial rule, not to mention those of the nations that are not translated with the church but remain and are engaged in helping the scattered Jews back to their Land after the tribulation (Isa 14:2; 49:22; 60:9, 14; 61:5; 66:20; Zech 8:23)

To support a pre-wrath removal of the body, there are many things that must be done with the timing of the day of the Lord that cannot be exegetically justified, with a number of things that just don’t add up.

For example, how obnoxious the notion that Jesus has returned, lifted out the church while the Jews continue to suffer under the fury of a still kicking Antichrist?

No, when Jesus shows up, everyone sees Him and it’s over in an instant. Scripture says “one day”. In one day, an instant, the AC is toast (Isa 9:14; 10:17; 11:4; 2Thes 2:8; Rev 19:15, 19-21 with Dan 7:11); the church is translated (Mt 24:31 with 2Thes 2:1, 1Cor 15:51-52),as Israel is delivered and transformed at the believing sight of Him whom they pierced (Isa 59:16-21; 63:3-7; Eze 39:22; Dan 12:1; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; 24:29-30; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26-27; Rev 1:7). The harlot is judged. The mystery of God is finished, as the veil cast over all nations is destroyed (Isa 25:7 with Rev 10:7) and Satan is bound. The righteous are raised at the “last day” (Job 19:25-26; Isa 25:7 -9; 26:19; Dan 12:2, 13; Jn 6:39-40; 44, 54; 11:24: 12:48). The marriage feast begins ‘in this mountain’ (Isa 25:5-8), and so on we could go.

The same sound of the trumpet that gathers the bride (Mat 24:29-31; 2Thes 2:1) also sets in motion the long return home by land of the newly repentant Jewish survivors of the tribulation (Isa 27:12-13). Clearly, the surviving remnant of Israel is NOT translated with the body. Why? It is because they are only now receiving repentance and the Spirit, as Jesus is revealed, not only visibly in the clouds, but in their hearts as the transforming gift of revelation and repentance is happening at once, in one day (Isa 59:18-21; 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9, 12:10 with Mt 24:39; 24:30; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7)

It all lines up with the same comprehensive and inclusive transformative event. The end of this age and the break of day happens instantly, as every eye sees Him and we may be sure, no AC survives that brightness, not even for a moment, let alone a number of days.

The day of the Lord that comes as a thief is also the Day of God Almighty” (compare 2Pet 3:10, 12 with Rev 16:15-17; also see Eze 39:8). Peter shows that that day does not come until AFTER the darkness that is “immediately AFTER the tribulation of those days (Mt 24:29 with Acts 2:20).

Very significantly in Rev 16:15, Jesus announces His now truly ‘imminent’ coming. That announcement / warning comes AFTER the 6th bowl and just BEFORE the 7th bowl and final outpouring of wrath and destruction of mystery Babylon at the Great Day of God Almighty. This is the same day of the Lord that comes as a thief in 2Pet 3:10, 12.

Jacob’s trouble may be the exception of speaking of “that day” (Jer 30:7; Joel 2:2-3; 1Thes 5:3) as the Day of the LORD, which would give the impression that the day is the last half of Daniel’s week, but it was the occasional habit of the prophets to speak of the Day of the LORD as inclusive of the events that lead most immediately up to the climax of that great day.

This was a kind of ‘short-hand’ way of referring to the great transition between this age and the kingdom come on earth, but to speak in these very few instances of an inclusive, transitional period does not cancel out what the far greater number scriptures pin point much more precisely as the very climax of the tribulation, as Jesus’, Peter’s, and John’s above cited references make clear. For them, and for all believing Jews of that time, the Day of the LORD was ‘one day’ Zach 3:9; 14:7), known only to the Lord, i.e., ‘the last day’.

There’s no denying that the Day of the LORD that comes as a thief is the same as the Day of God Almighty that also comes as a thief (compare Mt 24:43; 2Pet 3:10, 12; Rev 16:15-17). Clearly, it comes AFTER the 6th bowl (Rev 16:15),  which is obviously very late in the tribulation. Even more precisely, it comes AFTER the darkness that is AFTER the tribulation (Mt 24:29 with Acts 2:20).

That’s only some of my reasons, and I don’t push it to the unnecessary distraction of brethren who differ, but I do think it matters, particularly when the primary defense of the pre-trib error depends entirely on an extended Day of the LORD. Also, it may prove to matter even more when the saints may be unnecessarily distracted at a time when endurance to go the distance may be extremely difficult. So there is some of my thinking on the question.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie