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The Church's Tribulation Fullness

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You Have Boasted Against ME

Posted: July 14th, 2015, by Reggie Kelly

Notice the oft overlooked fine print.

Ezek 35:10-15

10 Because thou hast said, These two nations and these two countries shall be mine, and we will possess it; whereas the Lord was there:
11 Therefore, as I live, saith the Lord God, I will even do according to thine anger, and according to thine envy which thou hast used out of thy hatred against them; and I will make myself known among them, when I have judged thee.
12 And thou shalt know that I am the Lord, and that I have heard all thy blasphemies which thou hast spoken against the mountains of Israel, saying, They are laid desolate, they are given us to consume.
13 Thus with your mouth ye have boasted against me, and have multiplied your words against me: I have heard them.
14 Thus saith the Lord God; When the whole earth rejoiceth, I will make thee desolate.

Mic 4:11-12

11 Now also many nations are gathered against thee, that say, Let her be defiled, and let our eye look upon Zion.
12 But they know not the thoughts of the Lord, neither understand they his counsel: for he shall gather them as the sheaves into the floor ….

To speak against the mountains of Israel (obviously Jewish covenant claim), is regarded by God as blasphemy. Read it there in the text. Notice how He takes the words that men speak against Israel’s right to the Land as spoken against Himself, even though the nation, so far from attaining to covenant obedience, is a ‘sitting duck’ for the day of ultimate covenant judgment. Notwithstanding, God takes the contempt of Israel’s neighbors very personally. This needs to be probed as so much is at stake in this question.

The above are just two of a considerable number of passages that contain God’s view of the modern question of “divine right” to the Land, currently being hotly debated among evangelicals. As in so many of these examples in scripture, there is a mysterious overlap with a partial fulfillment in history that fell clearly short of of all the stated goals of the prophecy and a future fulfillment that will exhaustively fulfill every detail. This leaves a clear choice in interpretation.

Where there is a conviction that no part of the Scripture can fail of real and literal fulfillment, in conformity with the plain meaning of language and the original author’s intention, this points necessarily to a more complete fulfillment in future. This is particularly seen where the prophecy is set in the context of Israel’s ultimate salvation at the climactic day of the Lord. Where this principle is ignored or rejected on critical grounds, or the language spiritualized on dogmatic grounds, the tendency is to consign such passages to antiquity, voiding them of relevance or application to the modern circumstance.

While of course recognizing a partial fulfillment in past history, the demands of detail and context point necessarily to a future fulfillment that will include all the parts of the prophecy of which history makes no account, most particularly the final and everlasting deliverance of Israel at the Day of the Lord. As much as this has not happened, we conclude that such passages as these do indeed apply to the modern situation.

So much you know. What I want to particularly point out is that God’s great umbrage with the nations in their defiance of the covenant with regards to the Land in particular, is set in passages that presuppose Israel’s pre-millennial condition of covenant bankruptcy. The judgments that come upon the nations at the day of the Lord have particularly in view their view of Israel. That is to say, the attitude of the nations towards a still outstanding and binding covenant with Israel (the everlasting covenant; Ps 105:8-11) is regarded by God as more ultimately a statement of their attitude towards Him.

From the standpoint of His controversy with His people, it is God Himself who brings down the rebellious nations as a rod of discipline. But from the standpoint of the nations, this is high effrontery against the claims of His covenant that is the ultimate provocation of wrath on the nations. Let us not miss the paradox. “Offenses must come but woe to them by whom they come!”

Israel’s vulnerability to the curses and discipline of the covenant notwithstanding, when the nations move against them, a red line is crossed. Significantly, it is with act in particular that His anger comes up in His nostrils, as so many scriptures attests. Tell me if this does not mean that God continues to regard the Land and the people He chose to place there as uniquely His by “divine right”?

Israel’s shortcoming of covenant obedience, which Christians now rightly see as gospel obedience, was never before a final deterrent of entrance into the Land, whether initially with the Exodus or the return from Babylon. The remnant of true regeneration was always only comparatively small as it is today. The only thing that ever cast Israel out of the Land was when the cup of iniquity would come to full, when the iniquity of the Land would reach intolerable proportions.

Furthermore, when Israel went back to the Land, it would be at best a ‘day of small things’. The return would fall clearly short of the promise. Return to the Land was not based on a national repentance. This is to confuse any pre-tribulational return to the Land, whether ancient or modern, with the final and complete return that is indeed based on the post-tribulational repentance of the penitent remnant that becomes the all holy nation born in one day after Zion’s travail.

With the return from Babylon, there would be a time of refreshing in the Land but it was not expected by the prophets of the return (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) to last. Even the post-captivity prophets, Haggai and Zechariah, who led in the revival, and Malachi would continue to look ahead to an ultimate day of the Lord, the final transition from this age to the next.

However long they would stay in the Land follwoing their return from Babylon (Daniel said 70 weeks of years), whatever the ups and downs, there would remain still ahead an ultimate time of unequaled trouble called, “Jacob’s trouble.” This would include yet another brief and final time of terrific desolation and Jewish flight to places of safety. In the fore-view of the prophets building on Moses, this would be the last installment of the ongoing discipline of the covenant that must follow Israel to the end of the age. As much as the tribulation is still future, Israel’s further desolation is still future.

In all of this, the point most clearly to made for our purpose is that despite Israel’s outstanding exposure to covenant discipline and divine judgment, this by no means detracts from the wickedness and bold defiance of the Word and Spirit of God that becomes explicit wherever presumptuous words and hands of self righteous men are raised against God’s chosen people, the Jews, and against the Land He sovereignly gave to them by divine right, not of a temporal, conditional covenant, but an unconditional, and therefore everlasting covenant. It is His holy and divine work to bring them to that place and He is surely able, but in the meantime, the nations are accountable to know, not only His counsel but His heart towards them. That was the church’s job, but you know the paradox of history.

Let us be very clear: The gift of the Land was never based on any superior righteousness of the Jewish nation (Deut 9:4-5). Quite the contrary, it was given by free and sovereign grace. However, their ability to keep the Land in abiding peace would never be finally secure to them until the whole of the nation, without the exception (Jer 31:34), would all be regenerate “from that day and forward” (Eze 39:22, 28-29). That Israel will exist millennially as an entirely saved nation after the last gentile aggressor has been destroyed at the end of the ‘times of the gentiles’ is made ‘inexcusably’ plain all throughout the prophets (Isa 4:2-3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; Jer 31:34, to mention only a few).

Although Israel must remain vulnerable to covenant judgment util that day, still, whether in the Land or out of the Land, they are no less set apart and no less beloved, despite their covenant infidelity and enmity against the gospel, so that to look upon them as covenantally insignificant, let alone to lay presumptuous hands on what God has chosen and about whom He has so definitely spoken, is in all the scriptures a precursor to wrath. Antisemitism is a sign of self righteousness and pride that discerns nothing of the true nature of divine election and mercy that is not based on works. Its resurgence is a modern sign of the first magnitude. It is always a portent of disaster and curse upon the nations that embrace it, because it represents something profoundly near to the heart of God that can only be spiritually discerned.

He gave them up for a brief moment, for their sins, yes, of course, but in a deeper sense, for us, for had He brought them in at that time, as He will surely do at the appointed time (Ps 102:13), where would we be? In a mystery, their momentary blindness is an alabaster box of divine sacrifice of unspeakable cost that to sleight or despise is to provoke His profound displeasure.

The Glorious Church in the Great Tribulation [VIDEO]

Posted: June 11th, 2015, by Tom Quinlan

From the Glorious Church 2015 Conference in March. Reggie Kelly made it just in time to be included on the panel for a discussion of the nature and character of the Church during the great tribulation. This video along with messages from the co-panelists can be found at the Glorious Church 2015 YouTube Channel.

Co-panelists Ryan Couch, Fred London and Bryan Anthony delivered additional messages at the event. (Click their names to jump to specific messages)

The Conquest of the Veil

Posted: May 23rd, 2015, by Reggie Kelly

Do you have anything on how Satan’s removal from the heavens puts him in a less powerful place than he currently occupies?

We have to be very careful of our words here. The only sense that the Satan’s power is restricted will be in his ability to accuse the believer’s conscience. He is already without legal right, but his removal by Michael in the middle of the week ends his access to accuse in some unprecedented way. It’s there in the text!

Certainly the once and for all victory of Christ has ended Satan’s legal right to any believer’s conscience, but there you see that when Michael prevails to cast Satan down (an event that is clearly in the middle of the week; Dan 12:1), he is particularly described as “the Accuser of the brethren,” who, until he is cast down by Michael at the beginning of the tribulation is able, in some sense, to accuse the regenerate servants of God, albeit illicitly. What are the implications of this?

I believe there is a profound reason for this, but first notice that the line up of these events all happening at the mid point of the last week. This shows that it is the clearing of heaven from Satan’s abiding presence, is not only a powerful milestone on the way to the coming of the kingdom (the removal of the restrainer), but Michael’s victory accomplishes an unprecedented open heaven, as it were, that significantly announces the presence of the kingdom in power, and this announced presence of the kingdom is significantly 3 1/2 years BEFORE Jesus’ return. Something major has happened! I believe that what is in view is the heavenly enforcement of Christ’s victory by a church that has come to travail in analogy to Daniel’s intercession and self abasement. It is what I call the ‘conquest of the veil’ on a corporate scale unprecedented since Pentecost, as anticipated in Jesus’ exclamation, “I saw Satan fall as lightening from heaven.”

The Accuser’s removal announces the significantly related power and liberty of the overcoming church. The timing here lines up perfectly with other passages that show a breakthrough of mighty anointing that comes upon the ‘maskilim’ in significant timing with the abomination of desolation that marks the mid-point of the seventieth week (Dan 11:31-35; 12:7-10). Very significantly, this is also the time that the two witnesses receive their power. What is happening to the witnesses is happening to all the godly remnant, an anointing of power to do exploits (greater works?) and turn an innumerable multitude to righteousness. At the same time the man child is caught up, Satan is cast down, and as God’s people apprehend their place with Christ (in figurative analogy to Jesus’ birth and ascension), Satan comes down to bring the final woe to the earth dwellers. I call this the great transition and it happens in both the realm of light and the realm of darkness, the ultimate point of divide.

All adds up to something very transitional at this point, not only in the realm of darkness on the side of the mystery of iniquity, but also the side of light and power of the truth. It is a profound spiritual apprehension of the gospel by a church that is now completely poured out. It’s a new Pentecost! It empowers for the last great thrust of the gospel that will draw the net on an innumerable multitude. But the actual power of Satan, so far from being limited or ‘less’, is actually intensified. It is no longer distributed between heaven and earth but is now concentrated, fully and finally on the earth. For those who dwell in heaven (not a term for only departed saints and angels but all the people of the Spirit, whether in heaven or earth), it means the greatest break through of kingdom power since Pentecost. But for the ‘earth dwellers’ (a term meaning, not mere habitation of the earth but the sensual unregenerate who have their life in the earth), it will mean the time of unequaled woe.

Not time to enter into it here, but we must ask; how is it that something that has always been true concerning Satan’s fatal defeat at the cross and the rightful freedom of every believer from his accusations is, in some sense, being reiterated just here, immediately upon Michael’s removal of Satan, an event that we know does not happen until the standing up of Michael at the middle of the week, 3 1/2 years before the Lord’s return? I believe the answer has all to do with the believer’s relation to the veil. Here’s what I mean:

In the spiritual realm, there is a constant war against the veil of the flesh that is especially felt by the child of God. Every believer is in a war against the temptation to put confidence in the flesh, but not only at the conscious level. This is one important purpose in our pruning and the unique and tailored things we must pass through, much of which is involuntary, appointed and orchestrated by the Lord. Our maturity in Christ has all to do with the degree of brokenness and freedom from the impediment of that residual measure of self reliance that limits and hinders the fuller, manifest power of His life in us. This is what Paul made the constant object of his prayer, enjoining the prayers of the saints to the end that “Christ might be magnified in my MORTAL body.” This is the sense that he hoped to ‘attain’ to the resurrection of the dead. He was speaking of the power of the resurrection as a present potential and goal.

This is simply the well established biblical principal that our strength is our weakness, and our weakness is our strength, and why it is that it is only when Israel comes to the end of their power that their great transition comes (compare Deut 36:32; Dan 12:7). We understand what happens to the saints in the middle of the week when we can conceive that God has in mind a corporate fullness of Christ in the tribulation church that has become completely emptied of the last remains of the hindrance of strength. This is why Christ is revealed at the end of the law, because it is the Spirit’s quickening of the law that destroys all hope in the flesh. Christ is the end of the law because He is revealed at the end of strength. I’m not trying to be technically exegetical here, only interested to communicate a profound principle of the Spirit’s working. Spurgeon called it, ‘the withering work of the Spirit.” This most ultimate weakness and divine emptying of the godly remnant will empower the true body for an ultimate corporate fullness and witness that will significantly parallel the 3 1/2 years of His ministry beginning with the baptism of John.

Because of what will have transpired in the first half of the week, the true bride of Christ will have been greatly emptied of the last remains of confidence in the flesh, which is the strength of the veil and what holds the church back from its ordained apostolic fullness. The first half of the week will be very crucially employed to crowd and constrain the church to a place it would never have otherwise been able to go corporately. Thus my analogy, “when you are become of full age, another will gird you and take you where you would not have gone.”

It is the church’s coming through to this glorious weakness and self emptying that will receive the help of Michael. This is in significant analogy to what happened in response to Daniel’s urgency of self abasement and prevailing intercession. This breakthrough in the accomplishment of ultimate things is not only incidental to a fixed time, though it is that too. It is the issue of intercession, the filling up of the prayers of the saints, but not without the deep spiritual travail of intercession and self emptying that will be accomplished in the saints facing the final and ultimate trial, Simply put, as the greater the victory over the residual remains of self reliance in the believer brings the greater manifestation of His power and life, just so, the last great straightening and emptying of the church in the spiritual and prophetic travail that will come especially in the first half the week, will bring the great release of resurrection power and life of Jesus in the corporate seed of the woman, His body. So much that is ultimately transitional and decisive converges at the middle of the week and we need to probe and understand why!

Up until the middle of week, the believing church of God will have been greatly exercised and deeply processed and constrained through mighty displays of prophetic fulfillment and flesh destroying revelation of the truth. This will be in full and sober view of all that is now very near at hand. I call it the great straightening of the church. It is very related conceptually to Paul’s reference to his deep travail till Christ be formed in the wavering Galatians. It is the kind of travail that we see with the heavenly woman. That is true initially in the new birth, yes, but the same dynamic is no less true in principle and pattern in our maturation process and no less in the maturation of Christ in the corporate body as eschatologically anticipated in Eph 4:13. It is all by revelation and grace alone, and nothing of the self determination of well meaning religious zeal. The church, true church, will be profoundly emptied and divested of the last remnant of confidence in the flesh, which is the strength of the veil that hinders and holds back the power of the life of Christ from full manifestation in any believer’s life, but in this case, the corporate body (man child?).

I believe the man child is not only a personal but also a corporate figure. It is not only Jesus, as the ultimate personal seed, but the collective seed of the woman, the people of the Spirit. The sense that the corporate man child is caught up is not, as some have suggested, a pre-trib or mid-trib rapture. The catching up is indeed in the middle of the week in immediate connection with Michael’s dejection of Satan, but it is not of the physical body, since we know it is not the time of the resurrection (Paul puts his own resurrection at the last trumpet with all who are in Christ; 1Cor 15:23, 52). It implies rather a spiritual birth and ascent, comparable to Christ’s own ascension to God’s right hand where every believer arose and ascended with Him, as now ‘sealed and set down’. I think of the way that Jesus could say of Himself that He was presently ‘in heaven’ even as he spoke with Nicodemus on earth.

With Satan’s forcible removal by Michael, heaven has been cleared of the one who hinders, and this is taking place as the church has come through to a corporate fullness through the end of every misplaced, distributed, or mixed confidence. It implies unprecedented freedom and power on a corporate scale not seen since Pentecost. The church has, as it were, ascended, or rather fully grasped and apprehended its ascended position and sealed identity with Christ as sealed and seated at God’s right hand. It is only the old old story, the simple gospel of Christ, but in a much fuller apprehension of things already true but now much more perfectly and powerfully apprehended because of the great and glorious weakness that God has brought His church. It is the ultimate possession of our possessions, as when Paul so greatly groaned to apprehend that for which he was apprehended.

All of this happens on the side of light at nearly or exactly the same time that the mystery of iniquity is being revealed through the casting down of Satan, whereupon the deadly wound is healed, which results in the resurrection of the sea beast as the ultimate incarnation of Satan. The whole book of Revelation, the opening of the seals by Lamb, is all about this final manifestation of the mystery of iniquity that ends the ‘time of the nations’ and finishes the mystery of God (Rev 10:7) in HIs return, which Satan knows better than the church is impossible apart from the birth / resurrection of the Jewish nation (natural branches), and why he goes to exterminate the woman with fevered urgency once he sees his time is short.

Well, this is getting too long again, but you get the idea. I know this will be thought speculative, but while I have some admitted ‘loose ends’ in all I understand of what must converge to accomplish the great transition in the middle of the week, of some things, I am very sure. There is something very transitional and transformative ahead for the church that we must come to together before the last witness, which I love to call, ‘the final thrust’. God has something to prove and demonstrate through His church before He vindicates His covenant publicly in Israel’s return, which at that time will be no less the church of the one new man.

There is also something cosmic and world changing that takes place in heaven and on earth when this already despicable antichrist is revealed as THE Antichrist by what I believe will be a literal, bodily resurrection from the dead. The implications will be seismic.