Before Zion Travailed She Brought Forth – [Video]

From the 2014 Convocation, Reggie lays out a timeline of the final seven years before the return of the Lord that, properly understood, produces a Daniel-like travail in the Church.

This message followed immediately the short message on Zion and the Cross by Mark Klafter found HERE.

The Big Squeeze

Posted in Apocalyptic Evangelism, Bible Study, Convocation 2014, Daniel, Isaiah, Video | Comments Off on Before Zion Travailed She Brought Forth – [Video]

Edom and the Futurity of Ezekiel 35

Do you think Ezekiel 35 is future as well as past?

When we come to many of these kinds of prophecies, we are met with a phenomenon that is unique to Hebrew prophecy. It is the curious blending of a near fulfillment with a distant fulfillment that is much more exhaustive and that coincides with the time of Israel’s ultimate restoration at the eschatological day of the Lord. I believe that is what we have here, though most academic scholars would not warm to the idea with its implications for an abiding divine claim on the Land and its Jewish ‘occupiers’. However, such well meaning political neutrality that disregards an ancient covenant is NOT the perspective that we meet with in the prophets.

Because you have said, “These two nations and countries will be ours and we will take possession of them,” even though I the Lord was there, (Eze 35:10)

Now also many nations have gathered against you, Who say, “Let her be defiled, And let our eye look upon Zion.” But they do not know the thoughts of the Lord, Nor do they understand His counsel; For He will gather them like sheaves to the threshing floor. (Mic 4:11-12)

Such prophecies have their most complete and exhaustive fulfillment at the end of this age. That is why I believe that whatever contemporary fulfillment that parts of Eze 35 may have had in the past, it was at best only partial. There is a manifest repetition of pattern that remains constant, though details may differ in some particulars. We might call it ‘pattern eschatology’, since in both its near and far fulfillment, it remains true to the pattern that is based on covenant election and judgment.

The full and exhaustive fulfillment is necessarily future for the following reasons: There are two very clear time markers: Verse 5, “in the time their iniquity had an end,” and verse 14, “when the whole earth rejoices …” (i.e., the millennium after the day of the Lord).

You will notice that many of the verses of chapters 35 and 36 are very nearly reproduced in unmistakably similar terms in Obadiah, which clearly reaches to the day of the Lord and Israel’s final restoration. Moreover, the prophecy of Eze 35 continues on through ch 36 which is the promise of the new heart that secures Israel’s millennial permanence and abiding security in the Land.

Edom has indeed become a desolation, but this is not the full and final reach of the prophecy. Just as the everlasting hatred (Eze 35:5) persist to the end, so must this prophecy have further fulfillment in a yet greater and more final desolation in the future (Isa 34:5-17), first for Israel and then for the surrounding nations that harbor the ancient hatred for Israel in bold disregard and defiance of the everlasting covenant (Gen 17:7-8; Ps 105:10-11).

As in all the prophets, so here, Israel’s salvation and final judgement upon those who seek her destruction follows immediately after an unparalleled tribulation that has laid the whole Land desolate (Eze 35:12, 15). Hence, we must carefully distinguish between “the desolations of many generations” (Isa 61:4) during Israel’s long absence from the Land, and another very brief period desolation, dispersion, and captivity that is shown to follow closely upon a pre-tribulation return to the Land (cf. Jer 30:3-7; Eze 38:8; Zeph 2:1-2; Zech 14:2; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21; Rev 12:6, 13-14). This return is not to be confused with the final and complete return that is shown to follow the day of the Lord.

It is interesting that Isaiah shows that the final desolation comes very shortly after the returning exiles recover possession of their temple when it is once again ‘trodden down’ an invader. “The people of thy holiness have possessed it but a little while: our adversaries have trodden down thy sanctuary” (Isa 63:18; 64:10-11; Rev 11:2). This sets the stage for the unequaled tribulation that follows immediately upon the Antichrist’s desecration of the temple, presupposing the presence of the temple, as shown by Daniel and Jesus (Dan 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15-16, 21; 2Thes 2:4; Rev 11:2).

There is a great paradox concerning the relation of two distinct restorations of the Land in the latter days. The great second exodus of Isa 11:11 must be seen as necessarily twofold. Time does not permit fuller development, but notice that after ‘the desolations of many generations’ (Isa 61:4), the Land is destined to become as Eden. We see this in Eze 36:35. For this cause, many naturally think that Eze 36:35 refers to the present transformation of the Land. It would ‘appear’ so, but Joel 2:3 forbids this presumption.

Taken together, these verses reconcile a tremendous paradox. There are two restorations of the Land to Edenic beauty, one before the tribulation and the other after. Eze 36:35 is millennial as its setting is the goal of the covenant in Israel’s everlasting peace and security in the Land. Not so Joel 2:3. Its setting is definitely pre-tribulational. It is BEFORE the desolation that comes with the final tribulation that climaxes in the day of the Lord. We can see how nearly the language of Joel 2:2 parallels Jer 30:7 and Dan 12:1, clear references to the unequaled tribulation that ends in Israel’s final deliverance with the Lord’s return.

Listen to Joel 2:3: “A fire devours before them; and behind them a flame burns: the land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them a desolate wilderness; yea, and nothing shall escape them.” This is the devastation that comes to the Land by the forces of Antichrist. Yet, in Eze 36:35, the Land has returned again to an Edenic glory, but this is AFTER the national cleansing and AFTER the new heart that secures permanent peace in the Land. .

In other words, as surely as Joel 2:3 speaks of the Edenic state of the Land BEFORE the tribulation, Eze 36:35 speaks of its millennial beauty AFTER the tribulation. You can see the paradox this tends to create. It becomes a kind of ‘optical illusion’ that tends to lead many to conclude that Eze 36:35 has already been fulfilled.

This curious juxtaposition of the two contrasting uses of the analogy of the Land to Eden, both before and after the day of the Lord is very revealing as it so well exemplifies the paradox of the modern return. Here Jews from every land have returned to establish a Jewish homeland and the Land has indeed become like Eden, just as the prophecy of Joel 2:3 requires, but the present transformation is not permanent. Tragically, the ancient enmity still persists; the discipline of the covenant still threatens, and the Land is appointed to another time of desolation by the over flooding forces led by the Antichrist.

The twofold nature of the modern return has occasioned a dangerous optimism that tends to confuse the present return with the far greater number of references that speak of a yet future return that follows the day of Israel’s national regeneration at the post-tribulational day of the Lord, the time of Jesus’ return (Mt 24:29-31; 2Thes 2:1-2, 8).

There is a paradox that can only be accounted for by recognizing two distinct stages in Israel’s return to the Land.  Prophecy is fulfilled in the modern wonder of a Land that has been transformed into an Eden after ‘the desolations of many generations’ (Isa 61:4). Yet, there is another desolation of very brief duration that must supervene between the Eden that exist BEFORE the tribulation and the Edenic glory of the Land that will endure for a thousand years.

It is the paradox of the two stage return of the Jews to the Land. First there is the necessary return that is BEFORE the tribulation and therefore before the nation has come to faith (Jer 30:7; Eze 38:8; Dan 12:1; Zech 12:2-3; 14:2; Zeph 2:1-2). The second stage of return that follows the great tribulation is both final and complete. The short time of tribulation and desolation of the Land will also bring a final ‘scattering’ and ‘captivity’ for its Jewish inhabitants (Jer 30:7; Dan 9:27; 12:1, 11; Joel 3:2; Zech 14:2; Mt 24:16; Rev 12:6, 14). If context be closely considered, the far greater number of the prophecies of return, with only few exceptions, apply to the time when Israel’s enemies are brought low in to final judgment. Of course, this is the Lord’s return to destroy the Antichrist and deliver the penitent remnant of His people, Israel.

Failure to make this distinction between the long and the short is the source of much confusion and hasty conclusions that rob God’s people of critical anticipation and preparation for the degree of desolation and “distress in the Land” that many prophecies depict as underway when the Lord returns to bring the final end to the divinely ordained, ‘controversy of Zion’.

There is one more point in particular that should not be missed. As pointed out from Joel 2:3, the Land that will be made desolate by the invading forces of Antichrist is compared to Eden. In notable contrast to the use of the same term in Eze 36:35, this is very significantly BEFORE the day of the Lord. This means that the Antichrist comes down on a Land that is to be compared to Eden for its beauty.

Interpreters have usually understood such terms as ‘the pleasant Land’ (Dan 8:9) and the ‘beauteous’ or ‘glorious’ Land’ (Dan 11:16, 41) to be nothing more than a title of honor, harking back to Israel’s past (Ps 106:24; Jer 3:19; Zech 7:14). However, in view of Joel 2:3, we see that the land that will be devastated by the Antichrist is a land in full bloom. This is significant for how we see the modern return.

The magnificent prosperity of the Land, and even a tenuous peace with their enemies, with the momentary recovery of their holy places (Isa 63:18; 64:10-11) is no ground for security. It will be the responsibility of the maskilim (Dan 11:32, 33, 35; 12:3, 10) to warn those who prematurely celebrate the return of temple and sacrifice and the deceitful peace that makes it possible (Isa 28:15, 18; Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:23; 1Thes 5:3). Such a presumption of peace before a final tribulation is a false and dangerous dream that must ignore the very clearest of scriptures from the Hebrew canon (particularly Jer 30:7 with Dan 12:1-2, 11).

Now here’s what’s of special interest to me: In Dan 11:41, a passage that most interpreters agree is AFTER the invasion of the Antichrist (compare Dan 11:36-37 with 2Thes 2:4), Edom, Moab, and Ammon, the territories that make up modern Trans-Jordan, are said to “escape out of his (i.e., the Antichrist’s) hand …”. What does this mean? I think it means two things that should be well underlined, one that is probable and one that is most certain.

Firstly, when we look at Jordan’s current animus against any right of Jewish access to the temple mount, I can well imagine that Jordan will escape invasion by the Antichrist, not only because they pose no military resistance, but according to the scriptures we have just reviewed (and there are many others that imply the same), the people who still harbor “the everlasting hatred” (Eze 35:5) are in full sympathy with what is happening to the Jewish people in the devastation that has swept their Land under Antichrist. This brings me to the second reason that God gives special mention of this territory in Dan 11:41.

I can’t go into all the argument as manuscripts and translation decisions are argued and compared, but suffice it to say that the best evidence, from what I consider the best textual sources and preferred translations, shows clearly that Isa 16:4 should NOT be translated to mean that God is commanding Israel to hide the dislocated daughters of Moab, but quite the opposite. He is commanding the daughters of Moab to hide “His outcasts,” in this case, Jews that are in flight from the face of the Antichrist (‘the extortioner who treads down’). The Septuagint and Masoretic text, among others, confirm this reading.

In keeping with a few lesser known translations, here is how the more popular NKJV translates the passage in its entirety.

1 Send the lamb to the ruler of the land, From Sela to the wilderness, To the mount of the daughter of Zion.
2 For it shall be as a wandering bird thrown out of the nest; So shall be the daughters of Moab at the fords of the Arnon.
3 “Take counsel, execute judgment; Make your shadow like the night in the middle of the day; Hide the outcasts, Do not betray him who escapes.
4 Let My outcasts dwell with you, O Moab; Be a shelter to them from the face of the spoiler. For the extortioner is at an end, Devastation ceases, The oppressors are consumed out of the land.
5 In mercy the throne will be established; And One will sit on it in truth, in the tabernacle of David, Judging and seeking justice and hastening righteousness.” (Isa 16:1-5).

Note that the time could hardly be clearer from the context. It is just before the Messiah sits on the throne in the re-established ‘tabernacle of David” (Isa 16:5). Therefore, this cannot be God commanding Israel to offer refuge and hiding to the dislocated daughters of Moab. Rather, it is God commanding the daughters of Moab to provide shelter to Jews in flight from the Antichrist.

Due to their own sudden displacement through the threat of persecution from their antichrist countrymen, these believing ‘daughters of Moab’ will be at the ‘fords of the Arnon’ (this sounds like the canyon gorge where the Arnon river spills into the dead sea). I believe we have here strong evidence that the displaced daughters of Moab are being divinely charged to permit the outcasts of Israel (“My outcasts”) to dwell with them in the Antichrist time of mutual flight from persecution.

But even beyond the close questions of how this contested text should be translated, there is sound theological reason to reject the majority of translations. Think about it: Would God be commanding Israel, who will be inundated by Antichrist armies at this time, to receive hide wanderers from the one nation that is promised exemption from Antichrist destruction? (Dan 11:41). Or should we expect just the opposite?

To suppose the former would be opposed to a number of scriptures that show the flight of Jews down into the region of Petra in southern Jordan. As this text implies, they will be making their way there through this particular region of Jordan in their desperate flight to the place prepared of God in the ‘wilderness’ (Rev 12:6, 14). This is evident from the several passages that show that one stronghold of Jewish flight and hiding in the wilderness will be the region of Petra in particular. Isa 42:11 shows that the shouts of redemption will go up from “the inhabitants of the rock” (translated ‘rock’ only here. In the only other two instances, it is translated, Petra or Selah; 2Kings 14:7; Isa 16:1), from the ‘wilderness’ of Kedar. This is also the area of the Horites, the people of the caves (‘chambers’; Isa 26:20; Mt 24:26).

We note that a number of passages depict Israel’s last experience under Antichrist as resulting in a return to the wilderness, from whence they return in a kind of ‘second exodus’ after the Antichrist is destroyed by the Lord’s return (Isa 35; 40:3; 42:11; 43:19-20; 64:10-11; Jer 31:2; Eze 29:35-36; Hos 2:14; Mt 24:16, 26; Rev 12:6, 14). In all of these references and many more, the context is the last and unequaled tribulation that precedes Israel’s everlasting deliverance.

Such texts that show another exodus, not only in return from the exile of ‘many generations’ (Isa 61:4), but a yet further, post-tribulational return from a final experience of wilderness flight and hiding. You can see how these texts formed the background for Revelation’s depiction of the flight of the woman into the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14). Again, this becomes clear only if we make the necessary distinction between the desolations of the long exile and the desolation of the short tribulation at the end.

For example, by comparing such passages as Zech 14:2; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21; Rev 12:6, 14 with a return passage such as Isa 27:12-13, we can see that when the great Jubilee trumpet of final deliverance sounds (compare Isa 27:13 with Mt 24:31), a remnant, described here as “ready to perish,” begins their return home from the lands of Assyria and Egypt. Of course, the post-tribulational return of the Jews will be from all lands, but here, Assyria and Egypt are specially mentioned. This is significant, because in very recent history, these particular territories have become so terrifically hostile as to reduce their once flourishing Jewish populations to almost nothing. This raises the question, “how did this remnant of Jews get there?” Could the answer be that prospects for Jewish survival will be more hopeful in such hostile territories than to remain inside the Land? That seems to be where the evidence points.

In a context that is undeniably future, Micah 4:6-10 shows that the final redemption comes to a remnant that is “dwelling in the field” that was once Babylon. This is also ancient Assyria, the modern nation of Iraq. Today, this territory is an uninhabited, unsettled area that for generations was a place for the Arabian to ‘pitch his tent’, exactly as predicted in Isa 13:19-22. Can it be that the Arabian will not be the only one pitching his tent in that desolate wilderness during the coming tribulation?

What is of special interest is why the daughters of Moab (the kind of persons that would be inclined to obey the command to hide and render aid to Jews in flight), would find themselves also ‘cast out of the nest, as a wandering bird’? I believe the answer is that Jordanian believers will be under persecution from their fellow countrymen that sympathize with the persecuting policies of Antichrist against the Jews. For this cause, they too will find themselves in need of hiding places.

A sign of their love of the truth will be their willingness, and sense of privilege to prepare for the coming of Jews in flight. This suggests to me that with all believers wherever Jacob is found, Jordanian believers in particular are specially situated and specially called to anticipate and prepare to be a covering and shelter for Jacob in the time of his calamity.

It also occurs to me that this might be the key to the somewhat cryptic command in Isa 16:1 to send the tribute lamb from Selah / Petra to the ruler of the Land, that is to the King Messiah who is about to take His throne on mount Zion (Isa 16:1, 5). Indeed, for Jordanians to hide ‘His outcasts’ in such a dangerous area in the time of Israel’s frantic flight from the Antichrist, is a peace offering of sweet smell, since it could only be done with utmost danger of utmost cost.


Posted in Bible Study, Ezekiel | 1 Comment

The Constraining Nature of the Land Promises

I woke up this morning with a lot of things stirring in my spirit about the Land promise and its guiding use by God to not only inform but to shape and even constrain what we might call, ‘the eschatology of the covenant’. This is because the Landward side of the promise in particular, would crowd the later prophets to many necessary inferences that would become revelatory in the developing eschatology of Israel.

The Land, with other key elements of the promise, would demand for its fulfillment the coming in of an ‘everlasting righteousness’, not for only a remnant but for the entirety of the nation (Isa 4:3; 45:25; 60:21; Jer 31:34; Eze 39:22, 28-29) Tragically, only a third of those living in the Land when the tribulation begins will survive to the day of their national salvation (Zech 13:8-9). The surviving remnant, come to birth in ‘one day’ (Isa 66:8; Zech 3:9; Eze 39:22; Dan 12:1), will enter the Land as penitent, Spirit filled believers in their natural bodies. This leads us to the necessary inference that because they were not saved before this time, the surviving remnant of Israel is not translated at the last trump with those who were already born of the Spirit (1Cor 15:23; 52).

They will look upon Him whom they pierced at the time of Jesus’ return after the tribulation (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; 24:30; Acts 3:21; Rev 1:7). From the evidence of many passages in both testaments, the repentance of ‘the escaped of Israel’ takes place at the time of the Lord’s return in clouds of glory at the end of the great tribulation (Isa 27:12-13; 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10-13; 12:14; 13:1; 14:7; Mt 23:39; 24:29-31; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). The Holy Spirit is poured out upon them at the same time their enemies are judged at the great day of the Lord (Isa 32:15; 59:21; Eze 36:26-27; 37:14; 39:29; Joel 2:28-29-32; Zech 12:10). At the end of Zion’s travail (a common metaphor for the great tribulation), the nation of destiny is “born in one day” (Deut 4:30; Isa 13:8; 26:16-17; 66:8; Mic 5:3; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1; Hos 5:15; Mt 24:21, 29).

‘From that day and forward’ all Israel will know the Lord from the least to the greatest (Jer 31:34; Eze 39:22). This means every penitent survivor of the tribulation will “at once” become part of an entirely regenerate nation that will persevere in holiness throughout the millennium and on into the new heavens and earth, “world without end” (Isa 45:17; 66:17, 22). This miracle of saving, keeping grace will extend, without the exception, to every child born to Jewish parentage, and this will be with assured everlasting continuance  (Isa 54:13; 59:21; 66:22; Eze 37:25-26; 39:22; Jer 31:34).

Now observe; from the standpoint of the everlasting covenant that would be sealed in the blood of the Messiah, it is particularly the Landward side of the promise that would form the logical necessity, not only for a mighty apocalyptic in-breaking that would be called, ‘the great Day of the Lord’, but also an ‘everlasting salvation’ that would guarantee the abiding and irreversible regeneration of ‘all Israel’, so that the children of wickedness will never again afflict them, as previously (2Sam 7:10; Zeph 3:19). From that day and forward, Israel will lie down in safety and none make them afraid anymore again forever (Lev 25:18-19; 26:5-6; Jer 23:6; 32:7; 33:16; 46:27-28; Eze 34:28; Hos 2:18; Mic 4:3-4; Zeph 3:13; Zech 14:11). That was the hope, final rest and peace when the people and the Land would be married finally and forever (Isa 62:4-5).

We shall see that is through the implications of what was promised concerning the Land in particular that Abraham was able to see Jesus’ day and why Joseph would give commandment concerning his bones.

The dilemma of the covenant was this: How will a people prone always to backslide ever be fitted to inherit the Land forever, without further threat of judgment or exile? It was precisely the unconditional promise of eternal inheritance of the Land that would constrain the reflective OT believer to infer the necessity of an eternal regeneration that must extend, not only to a remnant, but to all the nation.

It was Abraham’s conviction of the literalness of the Land promise in particular that shut him up to the expectation of his own bodily resurrection. This is because the promise of eternal possession of the Land was not only to Abraham’s seed but to him personally as well. The Land of his sojourn would become his as an everlasting possession, not now, since he would die in a good old age, but later, after his yet unborn son’s family returns after an absence of four hundred years. This is how I believe Abraham saw Jesus’ day.

Remember, when Abraham is commanded to offer Isaac, it is after the covenant promise of Gen 15 that the nation that would proceed from the promised son would spend four hundred years in another country. How does a man die and yet inherit a literal tract of Land together with this son and his son’s progeny after an absence of four hundred years in another country? Not only so, but how else could Abraham have reckoned that such a promise could be fulfilled if the designated channel of the promise is put to death? We know that Abraham not only reckoned on the necessary resurrection of Isaac through whom the nation of promise would come. He also reckoned on the necessity of his own resurrection, since the promise of everlasting possession was to him and his seed, “to you and your seed.” This demands resurrection, not only of Isaac, but of Abraham as well.

It seems evident that Abraham conceived of Isaac’s sacrifice as the fulfillment of the promise of Gen 3:15. With the sparing of Isaac, Abraham could see ahead to the day of Him who would not be spared. Messiah’s death and resurrection would accomplish the mortal wound to the Serpent’s head. Abraham could now see that through the Coming One, the fall and its dread effects would be reversed, so that he, together with his seed, would be raised to inherit the Land forever, as only possible by an indestructible and eternal righteousness. This is Abraham’s faith in the God who raises the dead. The logic of all is the revelation of God’s own righteousness imputed to us, living and working in us and through us by the Spirit, made possible through the sacrifice of the Woman’s Seed.

Apart from this conviction of the promise of eternal inheritance of a literal land by means of bodily resurrection through the reversal of the fall by the seed of the woman, none of the promises to Abraham would have pointed so clearly to the later developments of the promise through Moses and the prophets. For example, at the outskirts of the promised Land, Moses forbids Israel to imagine that their possession of the Land is because of any righteousness of their own (Deut 9:4-6). The gift of the Land is unconditional, indeed, but the ability to retain the Land is conditional. That is why Moses declares that Israel, in its present condition, will not be able to prolong their days upon the Land, precisely because “the Lord has not given you an heart, unto this day” (Deut 29:4). But this will not always be so, because  Moses looks ahead to a time of ‘great tribulation’ in the latter days (Deut 4:29-31) when Jacob will be brought to the end of his power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:1). At that time, all of the nation will receive the circumcision of the heart (Deut 30:1-6), thus securing finally and forever the promise of everlasting possession of the Land.

The later conditions that were added did nothing to annul the unconditional certainty of the original covenant with Abraham (Gal 3:17). That God alone would secure the covenant despite human weakness is signified when God puts Abraham into a deep sleep before walking through the parted pieces alone. The covenant, though made with Abraham and his seed, will not depend on Abraham but God alone. Thus signifying that God will see that every necessary condition is fully met and fulfilled in the heirs of the promise, but by nothing in or of themselves. It will be God who works in us to do and to will of His own good pleasure. No other source of righteousness can find acceptance with God, that no flesh can glory. Thus the only thing that the later conditions cut off is the flesh, as necessarily excluded from any participation in the promise. It must all be by the Spirit received by grace through faith.

The righteous remnant within the nation was never sufficient to secure the nation from judgement and exile. On the contrary, the remnant would typically suffer with the nation. It is only when the habitual tendency to backslide has been cured once and for all by a new heart and new spirit that all Israel, and not only a remnant, will lie down in safety with assurance of everlasting continuance in the Land. That is the logic of the covenant that all the prophets understood. This alone would satisfy the covenant promise of everlasting possession of the Land. It is the Land, understood as literal, that demands the salvation of ‘all Israel’ whereby an all righteous, “Jewish” nation (‘natural branches’) is able to preserve themselves and their children’s children on the Land without further threat of curse or exile “forever” The rule is this: To inherit the Land forever, Israel must have a righteousness that is forever. This is exactly how I understand Paul’s understanding of that much disputed phrase in Ro 11:26, “and so all Israel shall be saved.” It is not a mere addendum to God’s abiding will that more Jews be saved; it is a covenant necessity! God’s Name and Word is bound up with their salvation and return to the Land. Until the time comes when every Jewish person on the earth is saved (Jer 31:34), the everlasting covenant, secured in the Savior’s blood, has not reached its full goal in the salvation of ‘all Israel’.

The revelation of the day of the Lord that secures the eternal inheritance of the Land is the climactic solution and eschatological resolution to what we might call ‘the dilemma of the covenant’. By definition, Jacob’s trouble, the ultimate travail and tribulation of Zion, is the last stage of covenant curse and discipline threatened in the law. Until then, Israel remains under covenant jeopardy so long as the disposition to backslide continues to threaten curse and exile. What will end this threat? Answer: the coming in of an ‘everlasting righteousness’ (Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24), not for a remnant only, but for the entirety of the nation, from the least to the greatest, i.e., ‘all Israel’ (Jer 31:34). As surely as Jer 31 follows chapt 30, this extravagant promise, so often spiritualized as too fantastic to be conceivable for historical fulfillment, is here on earth AFTER Jacob’s trouble.

Only as the nation is saved in its entirety in a way that preserves them in abiding covenant obedience (new heart and spirit), can the chronic problem of backsliding be finally overcome. That is why the regeneration of a mere remnant can never be sufficient to guarantee an end to the curse that must always follow sin and the continued threat of judgment and exile. Unless and until ‘all Israel’ is saved eternally, even the righteous remnant is subject to the cycles of judgment and exile, as in the case of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel.

Of course, we know that the DOL is only the partial solution to the dilemma of the broken covenant. The basis for all is the mystery of the gospel, which addresses not only the future of the promise but the very foundation of God in the calling out of His elect throughout all ages by an atonement that was eternally established before creation in the counsel of the Godhead. As we said last night, this means that many enjoyed the working of the Spirit that was based retroactively on an atonement that was not yet accomplished in time but counted as accomplished from the standpoint of God’s eternal predestination. Since the mystery of the gospel was not yet revealed, this means they enjoyed the benefit of much more than they understood.

This is how the day of the Lord ends the age long ‘discipline of the covenant’. Not only does it realize an abiding righteousness whereby the Land may be inherited safely forever; it also subdues and brings under the rod iron rule of Messiah the pride and power of the gentiles, forever ending the divinely allotted ‘times of the gentiles’ in the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, the time of “their fullness” (Ro 11:12). The day of the Lord brings a final end to what we might call ‘covenant jeopardy’ since it ends the threat of the broken covenant by the gift of the Spirit and new heart that keeps it in spirit and truth forever.

This means a mere remnant is not enough, else the problem of backsliding and judgment remains. What the promise requires is a nation that is entirely holy, not in the part but the whole. This alone can guarantee abiding inheritance without fail unto children’s children (Isa 59:21), By a guaranteed preservation through the ‘everlasting righteousness’ that is made sure to all the seed, the Land is assured of abiding inheritance, forever free from covenant jeopardy, because eternal regeneration fulfills the law and secures abiding blessing, not off in an invisible heaven, but here in open demonstration through Spirit filled saints dwelling securely in the Land without further threat of invasion or any of the curses of the broken covenant, as foretold in Lev 26 & Deut 28-32.

This is how Israel’s hope developed along the lines of the inviolable covenant law of the blessing and the curse but in the context of an unconditionally certain everlasting covenant that supersedes all human weakness through the determination of God to overcome all conditionality by real and actual fulfillment in our mortal bodies through grace by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness and the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Now it remains to show how and why the post-tribulational deliverance of Israel is no less the church’s hope, and how and why the foundation of all is the atoning death of a twice coming Messiah. Then there are the questions that rise concerning the new covenant believer’s relation to the law and how Israel’s unique and abiding election to millennial headship over the nations agrees with the revelation of the one new man, etc. The answer to these questions will materially affect how we conceive of the church’s role towards Israel, always, but especially the last seven years and the unequaled tribulation of the last 3 1/2 years in particular.

Posted in Genesis, Israel and the Church, Jacob's Trouble, Prophecy, The Day of the Lord, The Last Days | Comments Off on The Constraining Nature of the Land Promises

The Two Seeds

On Sat. night you made a remark in passing about the proto-evangel in Genesis. I think you said that the “unpacking” of Gen 3:15 is found in Daniel. I wonder if you could expand on that for me. I’ve been teaching on the everlasting gospel starting there in Genesis and I’d like to hear your perspective as it relates to Daniel.

Hardly enough could be said about Gen 3:15. It is the seed bed, not only of the gospel but of the whole comprehensive mystery of God that is finished with the 7th trumpet (Rev 10:7). The two seeds establish the two lines of men by which the plan of redemption can be traced from beginning to end. It is more than Messiah and Satan. It anticipates the line of the ungodly making up the city of man, mystery Babylon, and the line of the children of the Spirit who are headed up in the Messiah who form corporately the city of God, the heavenly Zion.

These two lines are really two natures, the nature of Satan in fallen man and the nature of God in His saints. These two natures that run through the whole of humanity come to their fullness and perfection in a personal incarnation in the two princes of Dan 9:25-26. Both the seed of the serpent and the woman’s seed are ordained to come to ultimate perfection and final manifestation in a personal incarnation. Paul will speak of the “mystery of godliness” (1Tim 3:16) and its antithesis, the “mystery of iniquity” (2Thes 2:7). The mystery of iniquity that is presently working, comes to final revelation in the ‘man of sin’ after the one who is restraining is removed. As Jesus would be the ultimate Seed of the woman who perfects in His humanity the mystery of godliness, so also the seed of the serpent must come to a similar fullness of Satan in the flesh. Thus, the two princes of Dan 9:25-26 fulfill two distinct mysteries that bound the present age between the two comings of Christ.

As an aside, the “revelation” of the Man of Sin implies something much more than merely identifying who he is by his actions, as popularly taught. Scripture shows many recognizable events that lead up to his abominable act in the temple (Isa 28:15, 18; Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:21-31). These will identify him well before the time of his ‘revelation’ as the Man of Sin. The revelation of the Man of Sin concerns, not mere identification, but the transitional moment that Satan fully enters the mortally wounded beast as he ascends from the abyss to become the “beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev 11:7; 17:8).

The mystery that I believe the Spirit intends to convey is that the same beast that descends into the abyss upon the event of the mortal wound, ascends with its healing to become the “beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” This means that the 8th beast that “must continue a short space” is none other than the risen 7th. Upon his rising, he becomes the composite beast (Rev 13:2; 17:11), now endowed with “all power” and signs and lying wonders (2Thes 2:9). As uniquely begotten Son was given the Spirit without the measure (Jn 3:34) so that in Him should dwell all the fullness of God (Col 1:19; 2:9), just so, by a miraculous transition, the Antichrist will fill up the full measure and image of his father, the Devil.

By observing the clear parallel between the time that Michael stands up to begin the unequaled tribulation in Dan 12:1, and Michael’s heavenly victory that casts Satan down to earth to begin his ‘short time’ (Rev 12:7, 10, 12), we can see that Satan’s eviction happens at the same time the mortally wounded beast is ascending from the abyss to begin the last 42 months of the desolation of Jerusalem and persecution against the saints (Rev 11:2; 13:5). Manifestly, Satan’s ‘short time’ and the ‘short space’ that the revived beast ‘must continue’ (Rev 12:12; 17:10) is the brief period of the unequaled tribulation.

Michael’s eviction of Satan marks the great transition point in heaven that very closely precedes the abomination of desolation on earth that starts the great tribulation (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:1, 11 with Mt 24:15, 21; Rev 12:7-14). If the casting out of Satan and the revival of the mortally wounded beast intersect to bring forth the beast that was, and is not, and yet is, this suggests that the temple is entered by a man who has only very recently risen from the dead. The revelation of the long working mystery of iniquity means that the man of sin now incorporates in himself all the fullness of what the former beasts were only in part, just as Jesus filled up in His holy person all the fullness of God. This is how the ‘prince that shall come’ fulfills the mystery of iniquity as the incarnation of the serpent’s seed, which is necessary before Jesus can return (2Thes 2:3, 7-8). Thus the revelation of the Man of Sin is not merely the point at which he can be identified, but much more particularly the moment that Satan becomes fully incarnated in the revived “beast that was, and is not, and yet is” (Rev 17:8).

Significantly, the time of Satan’s ultimate exposure in the Antichrist, with the casting down of the accuser of the brethren, is also the time that the two witnesses receive power, and not only the two witnesses, but we notice from a number of passages that this is also the same time that a great anointing is shown to rest on maskilim (the wise who have understanding; Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10 with Rev 11:3, 12:10-11). It is amazing to contemplate that the most manifest and abundant fulfillment of prophecy since Messiah’s first advent will accompany the greatest empowerment of the church since Pentecost. This will result in the evangelization of a multitude too great to number that will come out of ‘the tribulation, the great one’ (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3 with Rev 7:9, 14).

So the great transition that takes place in heaven affects more than the revelation of the Man of Sin. The casting down of the accuser will also accomplish an unparalleled release of the Spirit and power upon the godly remnant. The first half of the week will have been crucially instrumental in crowding the godly remnant to the kind of intercession that will receive the help of Michael in displacing the one who hinders. Besides ‘the accuser of the brethren’ (Job 2:4; Zech 3:1-2; Rev 12:10), Satan is also called the one who hinders, withstands, or resists (Dan 10:13; Zech 3:1; Ro 1:13 with 1Thes 2:18; 2Thes 2:7).

As you know, it is my view that Satan is the restrainer whose position in heaven is holding back the revelation of the mystery of iniquity, which is holding back the day of the Lord (2Thes 2:2-3, 7-8). So long as his place in heaven can be retained, the day of the Lord cannot come, the kingdom cannot come (Rev 12:10; 11:15), and the mystery of God cannot be finished (Rev 10:7). This is why Satan is in no hurry to bring forth the Antichrist, as popularly supposed.

This is where the church has it turned just around. We tend to think it is Satan’s great ambition to bring forth the Antichrist, but this is the last thing he wants, because his exposure in the Man of Sin will mean that his time is short. (This is why Satan must go after the woman with an urgent and desperate fury when he sees that his time is short, because he knows that the preservation of a remnant from among the Jewish race is indispensable to the public vindication of God’s irrevocable covenant with them.)

Satan’s eviction by Michael in the middle of the week is very much to be compared to the resistance of the demon prince of Persia who “withstood” the angelic messenger until he was taken out of the way by this same Michael (Dan 10:13). Doubtless, this is the background of Paul’s thought on the much disputed question of the identity of the restrainer. It is also strongly confirmed by John’s depiction of Michael’s forceful removal of Satan as a prior necessity before the kingdom of God can fully come on earth with the finishing of the mystery of God (Rev 10:7; 11:15; 12:10).

Notice how the same event that signals great woe to the earth dwellers (Rev 12:12) marks a mighty break-through of heavenly glory and victory for the saints (Rev 12:10-11). “”Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ.” Why? Because the accuser of our brethren is cast down …” (Rev 12:10). Daniel then becomes a type of the ‘maskilim’ (wise / understanding) of the last days (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10) when a pre-determined sequence of foretold events will move the godly remnant to a place of ultimate urgency and intercessory travail that will be answered in Michael’s pre-tribulational victory over Satan. Thus setting in motion the tribulation that MUST precede the day of the Lord and the full coming in of the kingdom of God on earth (Dan 12:1, 11; 2Thes 2:3, 7-8; Rev 12:10; 11:15).

John’s sea beast who rises from the abyss with the healing of the mortal wound (Rev 11:7; 13:1-3; 17:8) who persecutes the saints for 42 months (Rev 13:5), is surely the man of sin who reveals the mystery of iniquity as the incarnation of the serpent’s seed. It is important to see that this trans-historical (Rev 17:10), multi-headed, multi-horned beast is ultimately embodied in a man, I believe a resurrected man, the man of sin.

Those who want to make Jesus the one who confirms the covenant in Dan 9:27 argue that is not the ‘prince that shall come’ but Messiah, the anointed prince who is cut off (Dan 9:26), who stops the sacrifice by His death in the middle of the week. There are a number of problems with this view, not least is the observation that in every other mention throughout the book of Daniel, it is always the evil prince that stops the regular sacrifice (Dan 8:11; 11:31; 12:11). Moreover, the desolation of Jerusalem described in Dan 11:31; 12:11 comes approximately 3 1/2 years before the end in Dan 12:11, and this is consistent with the sacrifice being stopped in the middle of the week. It is particularly inconsistent to make the ‘consummation’ / ‘end’ described in Dan 9:27 to be merely the end of the city in 70 A.D., whereas in every other mention, ‘the end’ has in view the post-tribulational deliverance of Daniel’s people and the resurrection of the dead (Dan 12:1-2, 13; Mt 24:21, 29-31; Rev 12:7-14).

In summary, if the final week of years has in view the Antichrist as “the prince that shall come,” then we must infer a gap between Messiah’s atoning death at the end of the 69th week and His return after the Antichrist has fulfilled the mystery of iniquity in the last half of the 70th week. The first 69 weeks brings us to the beginning of the gospel and the 70th is preserved to bring in His return. If the 70th week concerns the revelation of the mystery of iniquity and the finishing of the transgression, then it is impossible that 70th week could have followed the 69th week in unbroken succession as argued by those who want to make Jesus the one who confirms the covenant and stops the sacrifice. The much maligned “gap” is in perfect keeping with the greater mystery of the gospel, which reveals a hidden age between these two polar mysteries, the mystery of godliness and the mystery of iniquity that bound the present age.

Curiously, Daniel never uses the term, ‘day of the Lord’, but the unequaled tribulation and the “finishing of the transgression” (Dan 8:24; 9:24) is clearly the last stage in Israel’s long history of covenant discipline that ends in the day of the Lord. The age long discipline of the covenant foretold by Moses in Lev 26, Deut 28; 31-32, continues till the new heart is given at a time of “great tribulation” (Deut 4:29-30; 29:4; 30:1-6). The discipline of the covenant does not end with a probationary return to the Land. We see this in the fact that the return from Babylon still looks ahead to a future unequaled tribulation climaxing in the day of the Lord (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Zech 14:1; Mal 4:1). Israel is not assured of secure preservation in the Land until the “bringing in of the “everlasting righteousness” of the “everlasting covenant”(Jer 34:40; Dan 9:24). This righteousness is ‘revealed’ in the gospel (Ro 1:17).

Daniel knew the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and others who spoke of this righteousness that must come before the nation could be established in abiding security in their Land. Jeremiah had shown that in that day when Israel would dwell safely, the righteous Branch, Israel’s King, would be called, “the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23:5-6). I believe it is incorrect to suppose that this everlasting righteousness is only brought in at the end of the 70th week. Like “reconciliation for iniquity” (Dan 9:24), the everlasting righteousness came in for the church at the end of the 69th week. It will yet come in for ‘all Israel’ at the end of the tribulation, which, of course, is also the end of the 70th week.

This conforms perfectly to what was foretold by Isaiah in Isa 8:7-14. The teaching would be “bound up and sealed among my disciples” until God’s face is no longer hidden from the house of Jacob. Note that the face of God remains hidden from Jacob until the Spirit is poured out at the great day of the Lord (Eze 39:22, 29; Zech 12:10; Joel 2:28-29; 3:1-2, 16-17, 21). While the greater part of Israel would stumble, the mystery of the kingdom and the gospel (the sealed vision) would be revealed to the believing disciples, who await its revelation to the surviving remnant of Israel at the post-tribulational day of the Lord. It is that unveiling that births the nation ‘at once’ and ‘in one day’ at the end of a final time of national travail and great affliction (Deut 4:29-30; Isa 13:6-8; 26:17-18; 66:8; Mic 5:3; Hos 5:15; Jer 30:6-7; with Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; 24:30; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). The redemption of Israel is inextricably bound to the hope of resurrection (Ro 11:15), as all roads lead to that great transition called, day of the Lord, which the NT treats as a synonym for Christ’s return.

We see in Rev 12 that the seed of the woman is both corporate and personal. It is therefore a great error to limit the woman’s travail to Mary, or the man child only to Jesus. The figure of the woman and the man child is far more sweeping, envisioning, not only the personal Seed, but the corporate seed of the woman which includes not only the spiritual seed, but also the physical seed through whom alone the promise of the everlasting covenant can be fulfilled in an all holy Jewish nation as the theocratic head of the nations.

The end of the covenant that will realize the return of the natural branches (Ro 11:27) envisions the glorious convergence of the earthly and heavenly Zion at Christ’s return. The woman is an inclusive figure that includes the elect nation, I would say, even in its unbelief as the abiding object of an irrevocable election, and also the believing ‘remnant of her seed who keep the commandments of Jesus’. Thus, the woman represents both Israel and the church, as the righteous remnant within the still elect nation.

Now notice a great mystery: Isa 66:7-8 shows the astonishing anomaly of the birth of a man child BEFORE the woman travails. Then, only AFTER Zion’s travail, the nation is born in one day.

“Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children.”

This is the riddle that Rev 12 will solve. If we understand the woman to represent both the heavenly and the earthly Zion, we see that it is the heavenly Zion that brings forth the man child BEFORE the great tribulation. This stands in marked contrast to the earthly Zion whom Satan tries to exterminate before the covenant can be fulfilled in their return (Isa 59:21; Ro 11:27). Hence, there is one travail of the woman before the tribulation, and there is another travail of the woman that ‘IS’ the tribulation. It is only “when Zion travails’ that a nation is born in one day (Isa 66:8). This is in marked contrast to the ‘pre-tribulational’ travail that births the man chid BEFORE the pain of Israel comes in what is clearly the great tribulation (Isa 66:7 with Rev 12:1, 5-6). Obviously, the birth of the nation in one day refers to the post-tribulational day of the Lord, not May 14, 1948, as popularly taught.

Posted in Bible Study, Daniel, Genesis, The Mystery of Godliness, The Mystery of Iniquity | 2 Comments

The Shattering of the Power of the Holy People

“I was at ease and He shattered me, and He has grasped me by the neck and shaken me to pieces; He has also set me up as His target.” (Job 16:12)

“After many days you will be summoned; in the latter years you will come into the land that is restored from the sword, whose inhabitants have been gathered from many nations to the mountains of Israel which ad been a continual waste; but its people were brought out from the nations, and the were living securely (at ease), all of them.” (Ezekiel 38:8)

“The shattering of the power of the holy people” (Dan 12:7)

We might call it ‘pattern eschatology.’ It is both a soteriology and eschatology of the cross, not only for the uniquely begotten Son, but for all sons, and no less the elect national son, Israel, who must embody and demonstrate the wisdom of this pattern in the sight of all nations. You can well see in Job’s experience the pattern of Isaiah’s Suffering Servant. It is a statement of abject poverty and religious blindness if we cannot see the same pattern in the church, since it is that pattern that makes the church the church, if it is the church.

I think we lose the point if we do not see the parallel in both the experience of the corporate servant on his way to the transformation that makes him righteous (with the true and abiding righteousness of the Spirit), but also in the experience of a born again, but still naturally self reliant Jacob, or even with one so righteous as Job, who must pass through imponderable suffering on his way towards an even greater perfection and deeper ‘conversion’ that comes by the seeing of God, face to face precisely where His face is only ever seen, at the end of power (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:7).

Who can welcome such deep dealings of God unless divine love and the bright hope of glory has overcome the power of fear? Only by the sure hope of that coming glory, and the love that casts out fear, could Paul so willingly invite the high cost of what it means to be ‘conformed to His death.’ His apprehension of glory was of such a kind as to make many afflictions to seem as momentary and light, not even worthy to be compared. It was ‘for the joy set before Him’ that our Lord endured His cross and this is what we must have if we are to appropriately endure ours in these last days as God has determined to bring His church into fullness.

From the interpretation you obviously take of Ezekiel chapter 38, you are pointing out that it is significantly at the height of Israel’s religious and political success that the great shattering of Jacob’s trouble comes suddenly (“when they shall say peace and safety …”). If so, it underscores God’s commitment to further educate the onlooking universe of the high cost of humanistic presumption. But it also underscores again the great principle of the Spirit that Christ is formed in Israel in the same way He has taken root in all His saints, by the shattering of their power.

The shattering of power is most ultimately the crucifixion of confidence in the flesh. It comes only through crisis. It may be the crisis that the Spirit quickens when the Word comes with power, casting down, even as it raises. Or it may come through the crisis of inward and outward circumstances, but in every instance, Christ is revealed at the end of strength, where the veil of the flesh has been shattered. That is why Christ is the end (goal) of the law, because the law intends the bringing down of every false hope in man. When the law is quickened, it kills carnal confidence as it shuts one up to true resurrection through a personal and existential revelation of Christ to the heart.

The same pattern obtains in His saints as well as in His elect nation whom He has determined to bring to salvation. As much as God is resolutely determined to educate principalities and powers through the church, He must purge His people of the pride of presumption, even in its most minimal measure, as in the case of Paul. By the same rule, Israel must be emptied of its power, just as the corporate body of Christ, as also a kind of corporate of Job, will not be exempt of the cost of its own high calling, since the greater the calling, the greater the jealousy, the greater the cost.

In conclusion, God is at war with presumption, and He is most particularly jealous of His saints. This is dealt with by His gracious determination to bring down every high thing, since to leave anything of human self sufficiency is to be deprived of the greater apprehension and appropriation of eternal glory, and nothing of this temporal world is worth that loss! So, Lord Jesus, do as you must do; that we not fail or come short of any part of your highest glory and purpose for our short time in this world.

“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward” (2 Jn 8).

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