Democracy, the Jerusalem Question, and the Coming Kingdom

Dec 31, 2016 – Secretary of State, John Kerry recently made a statement that has caught the attention of many. Though not at all in the context of his intention, it stood out to me as ironically and profoundly correct. “Israel can either be democratic or it can be Jewish; it cannot be both.”

That’s really a true statement! Democracy is no better than its fast deteriorating ability to build on ideals and values borrowed from a Judaeo Christian heritage. But the kingdom of God is not a democracy! And, unbeknownst to the world, the crisis of Israel is divinely set to be the issue of the coming of that kingdom to earth.

The biblical story is built around the prophetic history and fortunes of an elect people, and the irrevocable divine gift of a specific land as ‘their’ everlasting possession. As go the people, so go the Land, but the gift is irrevocable and its ultimate destiny secure through the pre-determination of ‘the God who raises the dead’. This disturbing conviction, held by a few Christian and Jewish ‘fundamentalists’ is naturally looked upon, not merely as an antiquated world-view that is out of step with modernity, but a very dangerous threat to the progress of a peace that is based on the ‘democratic’ ethic of what ‘seems’ most humane and fair to the largest possible number.

Those claiming divine authority for their views concerning Israel’s existence and future will be seen as the enemy of progress and even hope from the standpoint of an humanistic ethic that presumes to be based on the best that is in man to unify and pacify the greatest number. Therein lies the collision. It is the age old question, originally put by the serpent, “Hath God really said?”

But since the nation’s beginning, it was the uniform understanding of the Hebrew prophets that this age would end around an international controversy over ‘the Jerusalem question’, which is really the age concluding resolution of the much older ‘Jewish question’, or, as some have called it, ‘the Jewish problem’. But what does it all mean?

It is interesting that the age would end here just where it does, in the way it does. Think about it. Why should it not be sufficient that the age end around only the question of Jesus and the gospel and perhaps a final persecution that proves the faithfulness of believers under pressure? Why should it so necessarily include the Jewish question? Yet, according to the uniform witness of all the Hebrew prophets, the resolution of this question is where all roads have been leading since God first gave the Land to Abraham’s descendants.

The question of Jerusalem is ultimately the question of ‘whose land?’, and the further question of the basis of ‘divine right’ to the Land. But here’s what I want to say: The question of divine right to the Land, for all its significance to underscore God’s prerogative to choose as He will choose, is really just the shell of a much more ultimate and decisive question.

It is not enough to know that the age ends in just the way prophecy shows. It is crucial that we understand why it ends in just this way. In other words, we need more than the ‘what’ of prophecy; we need to understand the ‘why’. What is God saying through these particular foretold events? What’s His point in it all? This is where we so often ‘lose the forest for the trees’.

We must see that the Mideast crisis, as climax and finale of an ancient family feud, designs the much deeper question of God’s right choose on a basis that has no point of intersection with anything in man or of man. In that sense only, the Land question becomes the question of righteousness, which leads to the Jesus question. Thus, the purpose and meaning of the Mideast crisis is completely missed unless it has sent us to this much more core question, specifically, the nature and basis of an “everlasting righteousness” that is nothing other than the righteousness of God Himself, His own divine nature, as perfectly incarnated in the Son, and only because of the Son, partially incarnated in the believer through the Holy Spirit.

The Mideast crises exists to evoke this much deeper and decisive question: how can a chosen nation (that remains no less chosen despite its historical track record), come at last to rest in abiding security from all their enemies round about? Answer that question and we will have moved much nearer to understanding the meaning of developments in the region where it all began and is destined very shortly to end.

Through the Jewish people, God is demonstrating before men and angels a magnificent drama intended to reveal and define the meaning of grace, as the sole basis of a righteousness that lasts forever. Because only a righteousness that is forever can secure a chronically disobedient people in the Land forever, which is what the everlasting covenant promised from the beginning.

This is how the Jerusalem question is inseparably connected to the Jesus question. Through the victory of the curse reversing seed of the woman, the ‘blood of the everlasting covenant’ is revealed to be the eternal ground and basis of the only kind of righteousness that can give Israel secure and enduring rest in the land. In this, the Word of God is finally and publicly vindicated, and sovereign, electing grace defined, as utterly apart from human merit. That is at once the glory but also the ‘rub’ of Israel that occasions either offense or humble prostration before the God who elects.

Reggie Kelly

Posted in Apocalyptic Righteousness, The Kingdom | Leave a comment

Where God Is Taking The Church

[Originally posted in Jan of 2010 with the title “The God Who Raises the Dead (Where God is Taking the Church)”]

The virgin birth of Christ means that the “seed of the woman” is born into the world without the help of man. The same is true of the resurrection of the dead and of creation ‘ex nihilo’ (out of nothing). These are the metaphors that scripture uses to describe regeneration. In all of these examples: creation, birth, and resurrection, the subject is passive. It is not producing the action; it is being acted upon. The salvation of God is everywhere manifest to be a sovereign act of God “apart from works”.

The work must be God’s alone, because a division in the labor implies a division in the glory. Although the salvation of God is wrought ‘in’ man and manifest ‘through’ man, it is nothing ‘of’ man. This is precisely what sets the faith of Christ apart from all other religious systems. It is what made Paul an enemy not only to his nation but also many within the church. Their quarrel was not with Paul’s high Christology but his monergistic (only one working) soteriology (doctrine of salvation).

Just as the virgin birth was a divine ‘by-pass’ of natural fertility, so is every aspect of the salvation of God. God is supremely jealous for this, because He is supremely jealous that to God alone be all the glory. The cross signifies God’s utter rejection of anything that fallen might might presume to contribute to his own resurrection. “And you he made alive, who were dead …” (Eph 2:1). It signifies that the life of the Spirit can only begin at the place of utter death to all natural support (“I dare not trust the sweetest frame but wholly lean on Jesus’ name”). This is why the promised eschatological salvation of Israel is always depicted at the end of their power (Deut 32:36; Lev 26:19; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1,7).

If this principle is true of Israel in the eschatological crisis, it is no less true of the church of this age. In fact, that is what makes the church the church. Through the transforming power of the revelation of the gospel, the believer receives the salvation of the coming day in unexpected advance of that day. The church by definition is the first fruits of Israel’s coming salvation. The church is the church only so far as it has received the Spirit that will yet be given to the penitent remnant of Israel at the end of the great tribulation.

We might say that the church is the product of a partially ‘realized’ eschatology. As such, it is NOT the negation of Israel’s eschatology, but as the people of the Spirit through revelation of the messianic secret (Mk 4:11; 8:30; 9:9; Ro 16:25-26; 1Cor 2:7-8; Eph 6:19; 1Pet 1:11-12; Rev 10:7), the church is the first fruits of millennial Israel. Living ‘between the times’, the church is the tribulation people, instructing many (Dan 11:33; 12:3). What then should the church be? What is the church called now to demonstrate before men and angels in anticipation of that day?

Obviously the so-called church of professing ‘Christendom’ falls miserably beneath the standard of God’s declared intention for the church. The searching divine question, “Where art thou?” finds most of what calls itself church naked and ashamed. This leaves many to ask, what is the church? Where is the church? The greatness of what God has decreed for the church, particularly in terms of what He has declared He will show forth and vindicate through the church, makes the church to ask with Mary, “How shall this be?”

I believe we can hear the same promise for the church of our day. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” There is a sense that the age is waiting on something still to be accomplished in the church, something to which the church could never attain apart from the constraints and inducements that God will bring to her through the crisis of Israel.

The crisis of Israel, particularly as it concerns the covenant concerning the Land, and the controversy of Jerusalem (Isa 34:8; Zech 12:2) will constitute the final watershed issue that will evoke all the great issues of the faith. In short, God will provoke the nations to provoke Him, since it is when the nations lift themselves up to attack Israel that His fury comes up in His face (Ezek 38:18; Joel 3:2), as the ultimate provocation of His wrath. With this ultimate and final provocation, the line is crossed; there shall be no more delay.

The issue of Israel will be turned into a great test of the heart that will be a plumb line of division, not only among the nations but also in the church, not least because the Jewish people who will be the occasion for such world turmoil are by no means friends of the gospel. Hence, the issue of Israel will test the hearts of many, particularly since this people, entirely unworthy in themselves, are nonetheless predestined to be made righteous at the set time, as was Paul on the road to Damascus. Thus it is that what the church believes about Israel is very telling of whether it has understood the nature of its own grace.  

There is at the present a glorious church that is as much alive and hid with God in Christ as it will ever be. However, God has appointed a day of separation and manifestation through the determinative events and judgments of the tribulation. Of course, the essence of what the church will meet in the final tribulation is not without precedent. It is simply the ultimate intensification and concentrated embodiment of the church’s age long conflict. But a dispensation of requirement is at hand that will more clearly manifest the distinction between wheat and tare, even before the actual return of Christ.

Therefore, the present condition of the church is not the last word. God knows how to get us from here to there. “He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it” (1Thes 5:24). Hallelujah! That little verse, so big with meaning, says that what God has determined to do for and ‘in’ His people, He will certainly do. What a word of assurance! When I think of the present state of the church, and, of course, my own state, I think of the Lord’s words to Peter in John 21:18 “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.”

So what wants and what waits in order for the church to attain to its full eschatological stature before this age can give way to millennial glory? No lesser power than the power that overshadowed Mary is required. That “holy thing” that is conceived is as holy and apart from the help of man as that “holy thing” that was conceived in Mary’s womb, i.e., the woman’s Seed, the incarnate Word and Spirit. We know also that the working of that power requires a divinely quickened humility of faith that only comes at the end of strength. God is able to bring the church to that holy end.

To propose a pre tribulation exit for the church, God’s chosen witness, called, “the pillar and ground of truth” (1Tim 3:15), is to settle for an anti-climax, unworthy and out of keeping with all that scripture reveals concerning the cruciform pattern of God’s ways with His people throughout redemptive history (“ought not Christ to have suffered …?”). The suffering saints of the tribulation are never depicted as subject to divine wrath, but only the persecution of men. Some are hid and fed (Isa 26:20; Rev 12:6), as many are preserved alive to the end while a vast host must be slain for the testimony of Jesus (Rev 6:10-11).

May we then assume that God is waiting upon the church? Or is the church waiting upon God for the greater emptying and fuller manifestation of His glory? There is a necessary order, but God is no more waiting on the church to come into her place than He is waiting on Jacob to return to his place apart from a powerful shaking of confidence in the flesh, which is the power of the veil. Israel will be willing in the day of His power and not until (Ps 102:13; 110:3). This much we know; He is not waiting on the help of man! (Isa 59:16; 63:5).

If history has shown anything, it is that if God were waiting on Israel, He would be waiting forever. No, while the sovereignty of God’s purpose never sets aside human obligation to fulfill the necessary requirements of righteousness, according to the eschatology of Israel, the willingness and obedience of the people awaits a special act of divine power. “Your people will be willing in the day of your power” (Ps 110:3; Jer 31:18; Gal 1:15). And significantly, that day follows the humbling of the nation through the chastisement of the Antichrist (Isa 10:5-6; Jer 30:14).

Certainly, the church has already come to this divine enablement in some measure by the gift of the Spirit; else it wouldn’t be the church. However, the power of Pentecost did not happen in a vacuum, and we may be sure that God’s determination to manifest the power of Christ through the church is yet to see a crescendo of glory in a final martyr witness of love and obedience unto death, which will register itself powerfully upon the conscience of Israel, moving some to anger and others to holy emulation (Deut 32:21; Ro 10:19; 11:11, 14). But whether to anger or emulation, a church that has come to its appointed stature is a church that provokes.

Just as the seed did not appear until the “fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), God’s full purpose for the church has its appointed time, and we believe that time will coincide with “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Joel 2:1-3; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21). The church needs to understand the time and nature of that time of ultimate crisis, what provokes it and what is ultimately at stake in it. We believe that this “understanding” (Dan 9:25; 11:33; 12:3, 10) is crucial and will prove priceless and transformative for the church. We believe that the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week will have everything to do with crowding the church into position for its final testimony, which not incidentally coincides with the time that Michael casts down Satan to begin the final tribulation, Satan’s ‘short time’ (Dan 12:7; Rev 12:12; 17:10).

Theologically, the church is the corporate seed of the woman through the Spirit of Christ, who has indwelt all the regenerate people of God since the beginning (1Pet 1:11), even as Christ is the personal seed of the woman. Born by miraculous conception of the Word (1Pet 1:23), she is the corporate fullness of Christ in His people through the Spirit. (Eph 1:23; Col 1:18-19). In essence, the church is as miraculously conceived and birthed as her ascended Lord. No less than Christ Himself, the church, and every living member in her, is born from above, “not by the will of the flesh or by the will of man, but of God” (Jn 1:13; Ps 87:5 with Gal 4:26).

Therefore, if the incarnate life of God in the people of God is the standard, many are anxious to see evidence of a corresponding reality in tangible manifestation, particularly in mighty demonstrations of the Holy Spirit’s power. Here we must caution of something very perverse in human nature. It is the spirit of demand. It is also a question of the purity of the motives for seeking powerful evidences for the manifest working of God.

A pure and single passion to see the greater glory of God in the church will learn to reckon on the lowliness and hiddenness of God’s ways among His people. Except for the sake of judgment, God will usually hide the greater manifestations of His power from pride. God makes it a point to bring His “good thing” out of Nazareth (Jn 1:46), and to conceal His glory underneath badger’s skins. As the Lord, so is the church without form or comeliness in the assessment of the world. Its beauty is a hidden beauty known only to God and to those who are begotten of Him.

The church is only strong when it is weak. It is only full when it is empty. The church demonstrates the wisdom of the cross in its rejection of all false forms of power through a resigned faith in “the God who raises the dead.” Such a faith cannot be intimidated by any earthly power. It is as free to die as to live. “If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed” (Jn 8:36). The freedom that is freedom indeed is the freedom of love that casts out fear (1Jn 4:8).

It is much to be observed that only a church that is perfect in love can be bold in the face of death, and this is exactly what the apocalyptic books of Daniel and Revelation depict of the tribulation saints. As Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered, so the church of the last days will be perfected through sufferings. It is an inviolable principle of the faith (Acts 14:22). Whether Joseph or David (and where is the exception?), the afflictions of the sons of God establish the pattern that Christ, the preeminent Son, fulfills most ultimately (“ought not Christ to have suffered?”) Even as Israel must and will be brought to the end of their power in preparation for the revelation of Christ, so too the church must and will be brought to an end of its power. “Judgment must begin at the house of God” (1Pet 4:17).

The question that follows is what does God intend to employ in bringing the church to its predestined fullness? How will He get us from here to there, corporately speaking? Can we believe such ‘manifest’ glory for Israel at the end of their tribulation, and believe less for the church at the end of hers?

If I were a teacher giving a class an assignment, I would love to garner the collective insight concerning what scripture shows that God intends to employ to bring His church to its full eschatological destiny in preparation for Israel’s return.

Note that at the very moment the church is being glorified, Israel is being converted. Israel’s salvation does not happen gradually; it happens suddenly, “at once” and “in one day” (Isa 59:21; 66:8, Ezek 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:29; Act 3:21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7), at the ‘set time’ (Ps 102:13; Dan 9:24; 11:35). Israel’s salvation at the day of the Lord can be compared to Paul’s sudden divine arrest on the road to Damascus.

We must understand, not only the fact that Israel’s restoration comes with Christ’s return at the day of the Lord, but why? Israel’s return to the Land as an all holy nation clothed in a righteousness that is not their own (Isa 45:17, 24-25; 54:17; Jer 23:5-6; Dan 9:24) is the sine quo non (the ‘without which not’) of God’s very Name and Word (Ex 32:11-13; Deut 7:7-8; 9:5-7, 26-28; Num 14:13-21; Ps 106:8; 115:1-2; Eze 36:22-23, 32; Jer 14:21). God’s self appointed mission impossible is to bring in, once and forever, the very people He first brought out of Egypt, not only to bring them in, but this time to invest them with an everlasting righteousness that will preserve them in the Land forever.

This is the promise of the New Covenant that God made with them before gentile believers were grafted in among them (Isa 27:9; 59:21; Jer 31:31-34; Ro 11:25-27). This is why Satan so fears and resists the coming in again of the natural branches (Dan 12:1, 11; Mt 23:39; Mt 24:15-16, 21; Acts 3:21; Ro 11:25-26; Rev 12:6, 14-15), because he knows better than the church that their return at Christ’s return marks the public vindication of His everlasting covenant “with them” (Ro 11:27), the end of the times of the gentiles and Satan’s tenure over the nations, as their return will be life from the dead (Ro 11:15).

Note too how Israel’s national repentance and regeneration at Christ’s return to the premillennial binding of Satan. The mystery of God is finished when the 7th trumpet sounds (Isa 27:13; Mt 24:31; 1Cor 15:52; Rev 10:7; 11:15). As the survivors of Israel receive revelation of the One whom the nation pierced (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; 24:30; Rev 1:7), they are gathered from all nations (Isa 11:12, 15-16; 27:12-13; Eze 39:28-29; Zech 8:7-8, 23; 10:10-11). It is because the covenant has now been openly vindicated in the sight of all nations that God can take His rest in the salvation of Israel (Isa 62:1, 6-7).

Significantly, at the same time Satan is bound (whom Ezekiel calls the anointed cherub who covers; Eze 28:14), the veil that is spread over all nations is destroyed and the dead are raised (Isa 25:7-8; 26:16-21; Dan 12:1-2). At the end of the same unequaled tribulation (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1), Zion’s travail is finished with the birth of the nation “in one day” (Isa 66:8; Mic 5:3; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9). But is it only the earthly Zion that travails?

There is a mystery of the heavenly and the earthly Zion that intersects gloriously. We can only imagine how readers of Isa 66:7-8 puzzled to understand how it was that a man child could be born before Zion’s travail and that only after the travail of Zion would the nation be born in a day. The mystery of Christ solves the paradox (Rev 12:1-2, 5). The Savior would accomplish redemption before the tribulation, before the regeneration of the nation.

In the same pattern, I believe there is another travail that must be accomplished by the church before the mystery of iniquity can be revealed in the casting down of Satan to take up a full and unhindered residence in the man of sin (2Thes 2:3, 7-8). But first, in significant analogy to Daniel’s priestly intercession, self abasement and travail of soul (Dan 10:12-13), the church must, in like manner gain a victory in the heavens through a similar travail that receives the same intervention of Michael over the one who hinders (Dan 10:13; 1Thes 2:18; 2Thes 2:7).

According to Rev 12:7-14, Satan retains a place in heaven until he is forcibly cast down by Michael to begin the tribulation (Satan’s ‘short time’ of the last 3 1/2 years). Despite what it will mean for the earth dwellers, Satan’s forced removal is cause for great jubilation in heaven (Rev 12:10). This is because the kingdom of God cannot come until the mystery of iniquity is revealed with the removal of the one who hinders. If Satan is the one who hinders, what is he holding back? He is holding back the revelation of the mystery of iniquity in the final man of sin which must be revealed before Jesus can return. Satan dreads and resist this with all his ability because when he is cast down, his time will then be short (Rev 12:12), as the tribulation begins.

From what appears in Revelation, the 7th beast from the sea that receives the mortal wound is revived to ascend out of the abyss to become the 8th beast who now incorporates all the fullness of the former beasts (Rev 13:1-3; 11:7; 17:8-11). All of this ultimately concentrates in a man who must reveal in himself the mystery of iniquity before Christ can come. This is when a very great evil is necessary for a very great good. This is why it is so hard to conceive that something that portends such disaster on earth could cause such rejoicing in heaven, but that’s the paradox.

The point of all is that this will not happen independently of the church. As a kind of corporate Daniel, a church that has been greatly emptied of the power of the flesh by the cup of suffering that it knows it is about to drink, will be constrained to pray as Daniel prayed for the kingdom that brings a final end to the anguish of the Jews, but even more importantly, the glorious vindication of the Name and testimony of the God of Israel in all the earth! This means the church’s earnestness and love for the kingdom must rise to a level that moves it to travail as Daniel did, despite what it knows must come first. Then the prayer, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth” will be prayed in full view of the cost and will be heard on high.

What is the church’s role as witness to the prophetic testimony of Jesus in bringing Israel back to God? What will God do to bring the church to its appointed place in the Spirit in order to stand in the gap for Israel in the evil day? I welcome any input from the body, as i am doing some writing on some of these things. Your brother in Christ, Reggie


Jan 18th, 2010 followup
I’m struck and surprised at the response to that quickly done collage of notes and reflections. I’ve received two requests to have names removed from my comparatively small contact list. Others write to complain of a one sidedness that neglects the place of human “cooperation.” Another, making the same basic objection, said he didn’t have time for such “ramblings” that intrudes into things beyond what God has been pleased to reveal. So in view of such unexpected reactions, and now getting this encouragement from such a trusted old friend, I’m beginning to think that we’ve touched something here that is perhaps more than we know.

Years ago, I had some notes that showed how a religion of works is behind every form of anti trinitarian theology. I wish I could find those notes; I believe they were quickened one morning. But I entrusted them to a brother’s care who lost them. Of course, the fault was mine for letting them go. I’ve often asked the Lord to return to me the essence of that powerful argument against the meritolatry inherent in all forms of unitarianism, both Judaic and “Christian.”

Of course, evangelicals are keen on the incarnation of Christ but get drop jaw when we begin talking about the implications of God incarnating the same essential nature in the believer, albeit in measure.

Of course, this is simply what it means to be “in Christ.” The offense comes when we insist that the only “cooperation” that God receives is the cooperation of the new creation, which alone is capable of the required cooperation. Though indeed nothing “of man” in the sense of source, the life of God in the believer is no less fully human; it is incarnation, and incarnation is simply union, but that union is necessarily apart from any natural potency in man. To paraphrase Paul, “woe is me if I do not cooperate.” Yet, “who is sufficient?” “I labored more abundantly … I can say this without boasting because it wasn’t me” (“yet not I”).

Paul was not slack on responsibility or obedience; he never relaxed the requirement, but he was vehemently opposed to smuggling anything of fallen ‘man’ into the equation, lest there be, as I said, “a division in the glory.” So while it remains that “without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness …,” it also remains that the work of God defies any mixture with what lies in the power of man.

Paul’s monergistic view of grace and new creation is as much an offense to much of modern evangelicalism as it was in the religious atmosphere of his day. Subject to twisting and abuse? Sure. But if we are teaching something that does not meet with the same objections hat were leveled at Paul, it is likely we are teaching something more palatable to human sensibility.

The ‘non mixability’ of the work of God with anything of fallen man is a non negotiable of the faith. It is a question of the ultimate source of all righteousness. However apparently good any motive or deed, if it does not come by way of a new ceation, it is “short of the glory of God.” I know of no comfortable, more agreeable middle ground that does not yield to man what scripture refuses to grant, namely, a “piece of the action.”

Bottom line: we are ‘shut up’ to God to both will and to do. That truth, more than any other makes us to tremble. Though He presently working in His people, sometimes powerfully and in mighty measure, yet He has promised to perfect His glory in the church in a yet more manifest demonstration. We see it there in prophecy. The whole creation groans, and we groan. Thank God, you are one who groans for His glory in the church. It is just to say that He has promised more than we’re seeing, and we may be sure He has not resigned to leave things where they are now. This is NOT how it ends.

Jesus said, “When the Son of Man comes will He find faith on the earth?” He knew that prophecy had already answered His question (Dan 11:33; 12:3, 10). Why then does He put it thus? I believe it is because He knew how nearly absent the true faith of God would be in the earth in the days just before the final sequence of prophetic fulfillment brings the great constraints and inducements that will move the church to higher ground. I believe we are being permitted to build our religious towers of Babel while we come to an end of our own steam. That end will come when the requirement of faith exceeds the comfortable level of our optimistic presumptions concerning man. God is jealous for His own glory beyond anything we can imagine.

I expect that at some point I will respond to that objection and offer further explanation. I’m certainly OK with it being posted, though I admit it was not written to be an article but more of a discussion starter and to invite feedback in the interest of a fuller and better jointed statement in the future.

I really ask that you remember me in prayer, Dean, as I am careful to pray for you on every remembrance.

Your friend in the fray, Reggie


Jan 19th, 2010 followup

Is it possible to hasten the “End of Strength” in one’s personal life and in that of a church community, if one can find such?

Your question seems to ask concerning the present appropriation of the kind of reality that prophecy portrays of the church of the last tribulation. Granting that the power of Christ is revealed at the end of human self sufficiency, to what degree is this possible in the here and now? My answer is “much every way!” The New Testament reveals both a present ‘realized’ eschatology (the ‘already’), and a future fullness that awaits the final great tribulation (the ‘not yet’).

The principle that the revelation of Christ deals a death blow to human presumption concerning what is in man is a fundamental doctrine of the faith. That is why Paul emphasizes the role of tribulation in advancing the believer in experience and hope. The weaker the stronger. The path of the just grows brighter as the tendency to trust in self is driven ever deeper down into death.

The veil that blocks the full shining of Christ’s face is only as dense as our human self sufficiency, which is what the Spirit is always at war against even in a true believer. Paul said, “Indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead” (2 Cor 1:9). We know that Paul was given a buffeter from Satan to preserve him from pride in his high calling. If it had not been necessary, it would have been removed.

Paul said, “I die daily.” Beyond the particular dispensations of tribulation and divine dealing that are uniquely suited to each individual believer (which we cannot choose for ourselves), we are commanded to give diligence to make faithful use of the so-called means of grace (the Word, the fellowship of the church, the Lord’s table, good works and careful obedience to the leading of the Spirit). The taking up of the cross in the continual mortification of the self life is a daily duty that is fatal to neglect.

Indeed, nothing of the fullness that we expect to come in mighty power to the church at the beginning of the tribulation is entirely without precedent. In principle and pattern, the essence of what is coming has been present in every authentic revival of true religion throughout the history of the church. However, this will be unique in several particulars, which explains why this revival will not fade as all others.

Posted in Israel and the Church, The Last Days | 2 Comments

Amos 9 and the Order of the Return

What do you make of the fact the week the British mandate ended and Israel became a nation, May 14 1948, the Torah portion reading included Amos 9?

I think it was a token that the Lord is gracious to encourage those who had so lately endured so much that the promise of return is faithful and running on schedule. This is the Hatikvah [“The Hope”]. But this is not the only return. Just as the exile to Babylon was not the last exile, and the return not the last return. The present return is subject to further dispersion, as the far greater number of return prophecies speak of a final and complete return to follow an unequaled trouble that ends with Israel’s national repentance and the judgment of all their enemies.

It is very important that we not neglect the larger context of Amos 9, lest many be deceived and unprepared for what lies still ahead. There is an order to the return that is often overlooked. We must remind ourselves when Amos penned these words. It was before the fall of the northern kingdom. Since then, there has been, not one but two returns to the Land. The return from Babylon proved far short of the promise as described in Amos 9, leaving Israel vulnerable to further judgment and exile. It is the same with the present return.

Since Amos 9:15 is often cited as proof that the people of Israel will “never again” be uprooted out of their Land to which they have so lately returned, let us review the context:

“On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” says the Lord who does this thing. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. 15 I will plant them in ‘their’ Land, And they shall NEVER AGAIN be pulled up out of their Land, which I have given THEM, says the Lord your God” (Amos 9:11-15, NKJV, NIV).

This is descriptive of the arrival of the Davidic kingdom. So long as Israel remains threatened surrounding enemies, the promise of the Davidic covenant has yet to be fulfilled (2Sam 7:10) The return in view is NOT the pre-tribulational return, whether past or present, but the post-tribulational return that follows the final judgment of Israel’s enemies. This full and complete return to everlasting peace and secure continuance in the Land is most typically the context of the far greater number of return prophecies.

“And I will make a resting-place for my people Israel, planting them there, so that they may be living in the place which is theirs, and NEVER AGAIN be moved; and NEVER AGAIN will they be troubled by evil men as they were at the first” (2 Sam 7:10, BBE)

Jeremiah appears surprised to see that the return from Babylon would not at once fulfill all the glorious conditions described in Amos 9. Jeremiah’s vision of Jacob’s trouble expresses the popular assumption that the promised kingdom of peace would immediately follow the predicted judgment on Babylon (Jer 25:12-15; 29:10-14). Instead, he is astonished to see ‘the day’ that is like no other.

“For, lo, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will bring again the captivity of my people Israel and Judah, saith the Lord: and I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it. And these are the words that the Lord spake concerning Israel and concerning Judah. For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it” (Jer 30:3-7).

Now consider. Jeremiah had predicted that Israel’s return from Babylon would not come until after the predicted seventy years of exile (Jer 29:10-14). So when Jeremiah speaks of ‘the time of Jacob’s trouble’, what ‘day’ could he have in mind? It can only be the everywhere mentioned day of the Lord, because only then is the final oppressor destroyed and peace in the Land secure forever under the messianic king, as described in Jer 30:8-10, 16:22, and all throughout the so-called, ‘book of consolation (Jer chs 30-33).

This is our exegetical choice. Do we interpret “that day” of Jacob’s trouble as an event lying only in the past, only in the future, or with some, both past and future? To be sure, there have been visitations of divine judgment that presaged the day of the Lord, and some would argue for multiple ‘days’ of the Lord, but there is only one ‘day of the Lord’ that ends in the messianic kingdom that so clearly follows immediately after the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30:8-10, 16-22 with Dan 12:1-2; Eze 39:8, 22, 28-29 et al).

Even on the basis of Jeremiah’s limited perspective, the destruction of 587 B.C. must be ruled out as constituting ‘that day’, because this was not followed by the abiding peace and everlasting righteousness described in Jer 30, and reiterated all throughout the ‘book of consolation’ (Jer 30-33), but by seventy years of captivity in a foreign land. And by no stretch of the imagination can the term, ‘that day’ be made to stand for the entirety of the exile. Furthermore, Jeremiah would have been aware of Isaiah’s prophecy that associated the ‘day of the Lord’ with Babylon’s destruction at the hands of the Persians (Isa 13:1-19; 44:28; 45:1).

It is noteworthy that the conditions that are described as following upon Babylon’s fall to the Persians in both Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s prophecy (Isa 13:17-19; Jer 29:12-14; 50:9; 51:28-29 ) stand in marked contrast to the prophets’ vivid descriptions of the messianic era. Even before Daniel’s prophecy of a continuous succession of world empires, Isaiah and Jeremiah sees beyond Persia’s overthrow of Babylon, which proved only a type of a yet greater and more ultimate day of the Lord still to come. This is further evidence that Jeremiah sees this climactic, and ultimately transitional day somewhere quite beyond the liberation that Isaiah had associated with the destruction of Babylon at the hands of the Medes and Persians under Cyrus (Isa 13:16-19; 48:28; 45:1-5 with Jer 25:12-14, 25; 51:11, 28).

The prophets show an implicit understanding of typology. Consider. As much as Isaiah knew that Babylon would be succeeded by Persia, and that Cyrus was only a figure of the liberation that could only come through the Messiah Redeemer from David’s line (Isa 9:6-7; 11:1-5). And as much as both Isaiah and Jeremiah knew that neither Assyria nor Babylon was the last of the great world empires to stand before the kingdom age, but that both stood as figures of a more ultimate oppressor to be destroyed by none other than the Messiah (Isa 9:4, 14; 10:5, 17, 20-27; 11:4-5; 14:3-4, 24-27; 30:31; 31:8; Jer 30:8, 14; see especially the Septuagint translation of Isa 11:4 as cited by Paul in 2Thess 2:8), it becomes evident that not only the Spirit who inspired them, but the prophets themselves were quite aware of a recurrent pattern of partial fulfillment that prefigured a more ultimate eschatological crisis that would usher in the rod iron rule of David’s greater son and Lord (Ps 2; 110). This is something to ponder.

Consider too that in both Isaiah and Ezekiel, the day of the Lord is depicted as coming upon a nation that has only recently returned to the Land after ‘many generations’ of desolation (Isa 61:4; 63:18; Eze 38:8). This return would not be to the permanent peace of the messianic era but to continued threat from their enemies at a time when the Land has become prosperous (Eze 38:12-13), with its beauty likened to Eden (Joel 2:3). Context will show that these prophecies are not speaking of millennial conditions, as in Eze 36:35, but of the state of the Land that exists just prior to the day of the Lord, the day that will be ‘like no other’ (compare Joel 2:1-3; Isa 13:5-8; Jer 30:5-7).

Even if it should be questioned whether Jeremiah sees this unequaled time of trouble as taking place in the Land AFTER the return of Jer 30:3, it cannot be disputed where Daniel puts the time of unequaled trouble, as he has obviously contemplated Jeremiah’s prophecy (Dan 9:2) and will appropriate the language of Jeremiah’s prophecy of Jacob’s trouble to describe the final tribulation (compare Jer 30:7 with Dan 12:1). Clearly, Daniel places the unequaled trouble at ‘the end of days’ when his people will be delivered and the righteous raised to everlasting life at this time (Dan 12:1-2, 14).

Very clearly, in both Daniel and Revelation, the unequaled tribulation is equated with the last half of the final seven years that begins with Michael’s heavenly victory over Satan and the placing of the abomination in the temple (Dan 7:25; 9:27; 11:31; 12:1, 7, 11 with Mt 24:15, 21; 2Thes 2:4; Rev 11:2; 12:6, 7-14; 13:5). Furthermore, the later prophets of the return (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi) show clearly that the return from Babylon by Persian decree was only a precursor to a much greater and more complete return that takes place AFTER the still coming day of the Lord (Zech 8:7-8; 10:6-10; 14:1; Hag 2:6-7, 22; Mal 4:5).

Therefore, before we ‘over-conclude’ for the present return (though indeed a sign of the first magnitude), we must not forget that until Israel has attained to the ‘everlasting righteousness’ of the New Covenant (Isa 45:17; Jer 31:31-34; 32:40; Dan 9:24), the great tribulation that concludes the age is manifestly still future.

What Jeremiah and the prophets understood of the return from Babylon is no less true of the modern return. As with the return from Babylon, the Jews are home again, but they’re not yet ‘home free’. Remarkably, and wondrously, the Jews are back in the Land. The return from Babylon was after seventy years, which is only one generation, but this return will be after “the desolation of many generations” (Isa 61:4). That is a significant distinction! Nevertheless, a final suffering at the hand of a ‘cruel one’ (Jer 30:14) is yet ‘determined’ (Dan 9:24, 27; 11:36) to, at some point, follow the present return.

In notable contrast to both of these returns, the return that will follow the day of the Lord will end the diaspora forever, because from that return, not one will be left behind (Eze 39:28-29). Until ‘that day’, whether in the Land or out of the Land, Israel remains under the abiding threat of covenant judgment. Only after a final tribulation of unequaled severity (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21) will all Israel be saved and justified with an everlasting salvation (Isa 45:17, 25). “From that day and forward” (Eze 39:22), all (and not only a remnant) will know Him, so that there is no more need for evangelism among the Jews and their children again forever (Isa 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34 et al). This is astounding! No wonder interpreters cannot conceive of such an uniform salvation among the Jews ever happening here, on this earth.

Regardless of how clearly the former prophets saw beyond the destruction of Babylon, Daniel and the later prophets are very clear that the sufferings of the Jews does not end with the return from Babylon. Daniel sees the rise and fall of many kingdoms, some fierce persecutors of his people. It is this state of affairs that is expected to continue until “the coming in of the ‘everlasting righteousness'” (Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24). Although Daniel does not use the specific phrase, ‘the day of the Lord’, it cannot be mistaken that his seventy week prophecy ends just there, with Israel’s ultimate deliverance and the resurrection (Dan 12:1-2).

On ‘that day’, when the great trumpet will sound (Isa 27:12-13), the penitent survivors of Israel begin their trek back home, this time over the great waterways that have been lately dried up, evidently by the events presaging Armageddon (compare Isa 11:15-16; 27:12-13; Zech 10:10-11; Rev 16:12). The penitent survivors of Israel will be assisted by willing gentiles that have also survived (Isa 14:2: 49:22; 60:9; 66:20; Zech 8:23). This is the far more complete and final return from which no Jewish survivor will be left behind in the nations (Eze 39:28-29).

The prophets well knew that no revival or return could be sufficient to secure abiding peace in the Land that did not attain to the ‘everlasting righteousness’ from which they will “never again depart” (Isa 59:21; Jer 32:40). They understood that until ‘all Israel’ (and not only a remnant) attains to THIS righteousness, the discipline of the covenant continues and further desolations are determined (Dan 9:26; 11:31; Mt 24:15-16, 21: Rev 11:2).

That this well established axiom of biblical eschatology is not more commonly understood and taught is as strange as it is haunting. Its oversight or denial leaves the Jewish people open to great deception, as also the shattering of the faith of many who join them in saying, ‘this will not come to us’ (Isa 28:14-15; Amos 9:10; 1Thes 5:3).

This raises the question of the church’s job description. If the church is, as Paul calls her, “the pillar and ground of truth,” where is the clear voice of warning that is in agreement with these prophets of return? Who will tell them that the modern return has no more guarantee of permanence than the return from Babylon?

Whereas we agree that the remarkable repatriation of the Land is in accordance with the irrevocable promise made to the fathers (Jer 30:3), it is the prophets of Israel who insist that there can be no final and secure inheritance of the Land that is not based on the everlasting righteousness that has come to full light in the gospel. It is the church’s task to not only speak of this kind of righteousness but to demonstrate it in a way that makes the contrast compelling, thus moving some of them to emulation.

Jewish right to the Land is unconditional, but their ability to keep it is clearly conditioned upon covenant obedience. It is always ‘their’ land, even in their blindness and disobedience. The divine grant of the Land was never based on their righteousness (see Deut 9:4-6). God holds the nations accountable to understand this. This is seen in the ferocity of the judgements that God has decreed on the nations that presumptuously dismiss and disregard the ‘everlasting covenant’ that includes the Land grant (Ps 105:8-11). The divine threat on those who curse Israel in their hearts is not based on Israel’s righteousness but their election. This is evident as the very nations that are brought down in judgment of a disobedient Israel become the objects of divine wrath for their disregard of the covenant. But secure peace in the Land depends on the righteousness that is God’s alone, the ‘everlasting righteousness’, as only this righteousness can make true covenant keeping possible by the power of the Spirit.

Just a few thoughts your question sparked. Reggie

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The Prince of Tyre and the Everlasting Hatred – [VIDEO]

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Shut Up to the God Who Raises the Dead

As it is written, I have made you a father of many nations… before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickens the dead, and calls those things which be not as though they were. Who against all hope believed in hope…

I awoke this morning pondering this question: “What is required for the kingdom of God to come on earth?” How does a nation, prone always to backslide come at last, not only prolong their days in the Land, but to inherit it forever, in everlasting, indestructible peace? This is the dilemma faced by Moses and the prophets. This thought may be nothing new to many, but my invitation is to consider its implications for the bearing it should have on the church’s understanding of New Covenant righteousness, as it will be true in that coming day of an entirely saved Jewish nation after their final and greatest suffering, called “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Joel 2:1-2; Mt 24:21).

Throughout the vicissitudes of Israel’s history — before apostasy had reached the point of no return — the prophets would hold out the hope that disaster could be averted by repentance and return. But this was never looked upon as more than a temporary fix.

Repentance and reform might indeed forestall disaster and constitute a ‘lengthening’ of the nation’s temporal tranquility (Dan 4:27), but such could never be sufficient to secure lasting peace in the Land, nor the coming of the kingdom on earth. For this, the hope was for the ‘bringing in’ of an ‘everlasting righteousness’ (Dan 9:24) that would secure everlasting peace, not only to a remnant, but to the whole of the nation, who would be preserved in this righteousness forever.

“From that day and forward,” all Israel will know the Lord throughout all their generations, so that never again will a Jew say to his neighbor, “know the Lord; for they will all know Me from the least to the greatest” (Jer 31:34. See also, Isa 4:3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 66:22; Eze 20:40; 39:22; Zeph 3:13; et al). Moreover, this righteousness would not fade nor fail, but continue unabated, and without lapse ‘unto children’s children’ ( (Isa 54:13; 59:21; Eze 37:25).

Such an extravagant and unimaginable circumstance would not be possible except that the righteousness that the will justify all the seed of Israel (Isa 45:25) is not their own, but God’s alone (Isa 54:17). Because the righteousness of God is indestructible, so will be their peace, “world without end” (Isa 45:17). No weapon formed against them can prosper and no foe prevail (Isa 54:14-15, 17; with Rev 20:9)

Many think such an extravagant promise can only be fulfilled in heaven. Such unassailable righteousness and peace on this earth sounds preposterous. Add to this the even more inconceivable evidence of scripture that such completely uniform salvation is promised to no other nation. Rather than conceive the inconceivable, the natural recourse is to spiritualize these otherwise plain scriptures and to detach them from the people and Land of Israel.

But for the promise to be established, as literally described and understood by the prophets, it shuts us up to the faith of Abraham in the God who raises the dead. This is so much more than salvation of a goodly number of Jews at the end of the age; it is the sudden resurrection and birth of a nation ‘at once’, in ‘one day’ (Isa 66:8; Zech 3:9; Eze 39:22). This is the divine logic of how a people who will never come, must be forcibly brought back ‘into the bond of the covenant’. “As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” (Eze 20:34-35, 37)

A remnant is not sufficient:

The salvation of ‘all Israel’ means there will no longer be a remnant of saved Jews in the midst of a largely unsaved nation. This has always been the case but here is why it cannot always be so, and why the prophets all looked ahead to the great transition of the day of the Lord:

History is witness that a mere remnant was never enough to keep the nation from further lapse and repeated exile. Regardless of temporary peace or fleeting revivals, the prophets well understood that the nature of human nature would always tend towards backsliding, thus my term, ‘prophetic pessimism’. As Jesus knew what was ‘in man’, so did the prophets (Jn 2:25 with Jer 10:23; 13:23; 17:9 et al). Thus my habit of saying, If history teaches anything, it is that if God were waiting on Israel, He’d be waiting forever.

In despair that the nation could ever sufficiently cooperate with God’s requirement for holiness to sustain themselves in the Land, particularly in the kind of permanence required to fulfill the promise, the prophets understood that Israel was being ‘shut up’ to the necessity of a miracle of divine intervention. For this cause, they would look on ahead to a time of radical, apocalyptic in-breaking of deepest shaking of judgment, resurrection power and new creation. They would call this time, ‘the day of the Lord’.

“When He sees that their power is gone …” (Lev 26:19; Deut 32:36 with Dan 12:7).

This principle of resurrection out of death tells us about the nature of power itself. The power of the veil lies in power itself, which is to say that intractable human tendency to put trust in any other power (Jer 17:5), which is quintessential idolatry. This innate confidence in the flesh is what is broken for the believer in the day of new birth and waits to be broken for all the surviving remnant of Israel in the coming day of the Lord. Confidence in the flesh is humanism, whether secular or religious. Thus, from the beginning, God has been at war with humanism, which is pride.

As Paul would show how the law works to ‘shut up’ (straighten, crowd) the believer to the necessity a transforming revelation (Gal 3:23), because the law was given to take away our power and to straighten us to Christ. By the same rule, Israel is raised ‘at the end of their power’. This is a very revealing principle that lies at the heart of what Paul will call, ‘the wisdom of the cross’. It is why Paul, and by the same rule, every believer, is always delivered over unto death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also might be manifest in our mortal flesh (2Cor 4:11). Here is answer for the church of today, because where there is not this death, there cannot be this life. We could say much on this but suffice it to say, here is the anemia of the modern church. It is cross avoidance!

Through much tribulation (Acts 14:22), even the great tribulation, the veil that covers the nations is destroyed (Isa 25:7). In that day, at the end of strength, Israel will see what Job saw so clearly through his suffering, which is often the place the veil gives way, as false reliance is shattered (Dan 12:7). It’s the place of truest seeing, perhaps the only place of the kind of seeing that truly transforms and quickens the divine nature. Though preceded by a process, Israel’s transformation is not a process; it comes ‘at once’, in ‘one day’ (Isa 66:8; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7). It comes “when He sees their power is gone.” How instructive this is for a triumphant, complacent, Laodicean church! “I counsel you to buy of Me gold refined in the fire.” Where else did we expect?

Since the believer’s new birth is a personal application of this principle in obvious analogy to the eschatological resurrection / birth of Israel, it raises the question: How many have been truly born again by a removal of the veil over the heart (again in analogy to Israel) who have not first had their own power broken? Until we have despaired through the law (the quickened law) of any hope in ourselves (Isa 57:10), have we really come through to real resurrection life? If coming to such an end of their power is required for Israel, what is required for the church?

According to Acts 14:22, what is true of Israel and the coming of the kingdom, is no less true of every believer. Thus the faith of Israel’s future is based in pattern and principle on the faith of her beginnings. As Sarah would be visited at the “set time” (Gen 17:21), and as Paul was arrested on the road to Damascus “when it pleased God … to reveal …,” just so, will He “arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favor her, yea, the ‘set time’, is come” (Ps 102:13). Until resurrection, we are shut up to the power and initiative of the God who raises the dead.

As God, in a perfectly timed sovereignty (Gal 1:15), arrested Paul on the road to Damascus, and transformed this self assured persecutor into the apostle to the nations, just so will He stop a nation in its tracks, and bring them all the way down, that He might bring them all the way up in the power of the resurrection by the sudden, transforming revelation of the gospel. That is why the natural man cannot really ‘get it’, at least not unto true transformation. It is because he is still trusting something in himself. He has yet to come to the end of his power.

In any view of scripture that has not been spiritualized beyond recognition, God has bound up His Name, His oath, yea, the very return of Jesus with whether He can, against all odds, bring in the very nation that He first brought out of Egypt, not momentarily, not provisionally, not as under probation till another cycle of judgment, but finally and forever!

What will it take?

What will it take? It will take resurrection that comes at the end of power. It will take the quickening of a transforming revelation. This is why the saving revelation of Christ comes, not only at the end of power; it comes at the end of the law. Christ is revealed at the end of the law, because true revelation comes at the end of strength, and the law was given to take away our strength, which is the strength of veil to hide the gospel. This is why Paul could say, “the strength of sin is the law” (1Cor 15:56), because to trust in the holy commandment as a means of life is nothing else than trusting in ourselves. It is fatal confidence in the flesh. In this sense, the strength of sin is strength, our strength. This principle of resurrection faith is as true for the church now, as it will be true for Israel in that day.

The answer to the often asked question, ‘what will it take’ for the church? is shown us in the eschatology of Israel. As surely as the church is indeed the ‘pillar and ground of truth’; as surely as she is built on the rock of divine revelation; and if “unto Him be glory in the church …, world without end …,” then we may be sure that God will not suffer this age to conclude in a lackluster, ‘Laodicean fizzle’. No! Before He will have His glory in “Israel My glory,” He will have it no less in the church as demonstration and power, all the more now, in this present evil age where the battle rages. He will be no less vindicated in the church in this age, as He will be vindicated in Israel in the age to come. Besides, Israel, together with all who will be called and joined to her in that day, will be no less the body of Christ on earth for the purposes of God for that time.

Why a millennium?

It is not enough that God have an elect in this age in partial and somewhat hidden fulfillment of the promise made to the fathers. No, His covenanted promise must be openly and literally vindicated on this earth. He is jealous for this, as nothing else can so fully show His power and glory in frail jars of clay, in the very presence of His enemies. He is a God of incarnation and embodiment and demonstration. He has a point to prove, not only to His people and the nations, but to the rebellious powers.

By bringing in, finally and forever, “not another people” (Dan 2:44), but the very people He first brought out, THIS will bring the rest to Jerusalem and to the nations for which the age, and God Himself has waited and commanded the unceasing prayers of His saints. When this outrageous impossibility will be ‘done’ (Eze 39:8 with Rev 16:17), the day breaks for Israel. As He said in reply to Moses’ intercessory protest, when THIS will be accomplished, the whole earth will be filled with His glory. “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord!” (Num 14:21). Truly, Israel is God’s own, self-appointed ‘mission impossible’. Through them, grace is put on display to destroy all boasting.

Their resurrection from their helpless condition will be God’s most open demonstration and public vindication of His everlasting, covenant Word. It will confound and silence, as nothing has ever silenced, the original question: “Hath God really said?”

For this very cause, there must be a millennium of open demonstration and manifest divine embodiment BEFORE the final perfection of new heavens and earth. This must be accomplished here on this earth, not off in an invisible, perfected realm that is outside and beyond the test of time, but here, while yet in a natural bodies of frailty and imperfection, the Jewish race will be preserved on this earth for a thousand years in a blessed state of brokenness and holy weakness (Zeph 3:12-13). Truly, this will be a table spread in the presence of the enemy that has been bound to look on helplessly for a thousand years of open vindication of the Word of God.

True, Satan will be bound for a thousand years, and impotent to deceive the nations, as in times past, but this does not mean the righteous of Israel will not continue to war against the flesh. We know this, because chastisement continues to be threatened, even in the millennium, as there are highly descript provisions for continual cleansing and renewal in the kingdom age, but never is God’s covenant kindness completely removed them, because they are the true, spiritual, as well as natural seed of David’s greater son (2Sam 7:10, 14-15; Ps 89:22, 28-37; with Isa 55:3; Amos 9:15; Ro 8:28-39). They shall NEVER AGAIN depart (Isa 54:10; 59:21; Jer 32:40).

This raises the question: With it understood that redeemed Israel will be dwelling in the Land in mortal bodies, and given the notorious nature of the flesh to subvert even the most promising beginnings, how can such permanence be possible? Only by an abiding continuance in righteousness, not only of the few, but of ‘all Israel’ (the nation as a whole), can abiding peace in the Land be possible to a people who are yet in the frailty of their natural bodies, having children and building houses, as specified in many scriptures.

We really must take in and reflect deeply on the implications of what the scripture here implies. How is this possible? This could never be the case so long as only a remnant was righteous, as seen when the righteous would endure captivity along with the rebellious.

Consider that even during national revivals, when the righteous remnant would swell greatly, bringing great blessing upon the nation, and during the great reforms that followed their return from Babylon, the prophets living after the captivity would continue to look on ahead to the inevitable drift towards backsliding that would not be finally and permanently cured until the great day of the Lord and the coming in of the everlasting righteousness.

Not only does Israel start out in New Covenant righteousness; they continue in it forever. When we see the righteousness by which Israel will be kept a thousand years, can it be any other than the righteousness that keeps the believer now? (Ps 121:3-8). This says much about the kind of righteousness that is promised in Christ, as there is no other kind. His righteousness is the everlasting righteousness of millennial promise that all Israel will enter into after Jacob’s trouble (Jer 30-32). Is this not that millennial rest of ‘full assurance’ that is even now available to the believer who labors to enter into His rest? “And His rest shall be glorious!” (Isa 11:10). It is glorious now.

This righteousness is necessarily an apocalyptic (‘revealed’) righteousness (Ro 1:17). When Israel sees Him whom they pierced, they are seeing much more than Jesus’ glorified body; they are seeing the gospel by the Spirit, and behold the change that follows!

Such revelation necessarily transforms. It also necessarily produces after its own kind in some real measure (Mk 4:8). According to 2Cor 3:18, it is impossible to ‘see’ in this way and NOT be changed. This brings the question: Have we received the gospel, not only ‘as’ revelation, but ‘by’ the Spirit of revelation?

When Jesus said, “upon this rock I will build my church,” He wasn’t just speaking of Peter’s accurate confession. He was speaking of the great divide between the living and the dead. He was speaking of the way He must be known, not by mere teaching, but by revelation that flesh and blood is helpless to convey (Mt 16:17 with Gal 1:11).

Scripturally, the gospel forbids us to put too great a divide between the power and glory that will come to Israel after the tribulation and the power that has come, and is now available to the church, provided the essential conditions and dynamics are the same. This is why Paul could say in Hebrews that the powers of ‘the age to come’ can already be tasted, as the power of the kingdom shows itself now in mighty signs and wonders, even in its present form as a mystery (Heb 6:5; Mt 23:13; Mk 4:11; 9:1; 12:34; Lk 11:20).

In that day, the veil that covers the nations will be destroyed (Isa 25:7), as the mystery of God is finished at the seventh trumpet (Rev 10:7). Because of this, Israel will show forth openly what is no less true of His saints in this age, only in this age, there is the mixture of the tares and wheat in the visible, deeply beset and embattled church of God while Satan has not yet been bound.

Yet, the everlasting righteousness that will secure permanent peace for Israel at the end of Daniel’s 70th week has already come in for church with the cutting off of the Messiah at the end of the 69th week. The sealed vision that will not be unsealed for Israel until the end of the 70th week, has been revealed to the remnant (the ‘maskilim’ of Dan 11:32-35; 12:3, 10) who became the pillars of the fledgling assembly of Messiah. With the descent of the Spirit at Pentecost, not only did power come on the gathered assembly of disciples; the mystery of the gospel that was concealed in the writings of the prophets was revealed for the first time (Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11-12).

With the revelation of the gospel, the cornerstone of the whole divine edifice has been revealed as the glorious ground and basis of the everlasting covenant established in the Redeemer’s blood. In that day, when the surviving remnant of Israel will look upon Him, as the Spirit of grace and supplication is poured out (Zech 12:10), it is this gospel that they will immediately see to their lasting change and everlasting continuance in the Land. How astonishing! How glorious! How contrary to everything known or ever seen or imagined! And this is to be on this earth? Can it be? This is the faith of Abraham, who ‘against hope believed in hope’ that before the Word of God could fail, the very dead would rise (Heb 11:19).

If this is the righteousness that will be theirs in that day. If this is the covenant into which we have gained advance entrance through Messiah’s blood. If the power of continuance and the blessing of peace is based on this righteousness that is not their own but God’s own, what are the implications for the church of the present age? How far have we understood this righteousness? Have we laid hold of what will so gloriously sustain and set Israel apart for a thousand years?

Although every Jew in the Land will be fully alive to God; they will not be perfect. A considerable number of scriptures show their continued battle with personal weakness and sin and regular need of cleansing. No less then than now, their faith will be tested and proven whether it is ‘born of God’. They will have to overcome the power of the flesh, but they surely will overcome, because their faith will be ‘born of God’ and such faith ‘must’ overcome, precisely because it is born of God (1Jn 3:9; 5:4-5, 18). So now this question:

As surely as there is only one everlasting righteousness, then so far as one is truly ‘in Christ’, they are complete in Him (Col 2:10). They are a new creation right now, and not simply on the way to becoming one. We see that this life is claimed by many but what we see does not come up to the standard God gave us in the book of Acts. Why? What went wrong? Why did the glory fade? If we have the life, where is the power of the life? We see it at Pentecost. We see it at the return of Christ. We also see it in mighty exploits and anointing from the midpoint of Daniel’s 70th week and forward (Dan 11:31-33; Rev 11:3; 12:11 with Isa 40:29). Why then aren’t we seeing more of this power now?

I’ve already written much more than I set out, so I must cut this painfully short, but I believe the answer lies in what has been suggested. It is the issue of the Spirit. Of course, that is true, but the issue of the Spirit is the issue of the veil that receives its power to veil, to rob, and to hinder through the deceitful power of the flesh. It is thus, most ultimately, the issue of brokenness, as Watchman Nee develops in his classic, “The Release of the Spirit.”

The gospel may be ever so well taught and even substantially understood but it can only be “known” (in the biblical sense of that word) by the Spirit. When we survey the transitional events of the first century, with other great epoch moments throughout the OT, and compare these with the seismic transition that takes place in the middle of Daniel’s 70th week, we can begin to see the conditions and dynamics that are commonly at work. The setting is invariably one of crisis.

My beloved brother, Art Katz, used to turn Lord Acton’s famous quote, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely” into “crisis reveals and ultimate crises reveals ultimately.” Our apocalyptic perspective demands a theology of crisis. What will take place in the middle of Daniel’s final week is simply a much deeper, corporate experience and apprehension of nothing else or other than the gospel, the old, old story, apprehended and appropriated as never before. Why? Because the urgency of crisis that will straighten the church to holy weakness and the brokenness of the quickened Word. For Israel, this kind of willing, total surrender comes, not in the time of their choosing, but “in the day of His power” (Psa 110:3). It will be no less so for the church. We will be straightened to resurrection life and power for the final witness. As Jesus said to Peter, “when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish.”

There is a sense in which revival waits on something that is required of the church. That is ever true, though God is the author and initiator of all that will stand and abide. But there is another sense, equally true, in which the church is ‘shut up’, as it were, to the initiative and orchestration of God. In this sense, the church is waiting on God who has ordained in their due season the necessary constraints and inducements that no amount of will or desire can ever bring about. There is a sense that flesh and sin is always to blame for what is not, while, paradoxically, only grace and nothing of man is to credit for what comes forth that counts with God.

In short, God will not leave His church to its own best intentions. We may be sure that the will is already very much present with the true bride, but ‘how to perform’ what is in her heart waits on God to supply the constraints and inducements that will get her from here to there, to the confounding and shame of every proud, legalistic, accusing spirit of denial. We are His handiwork. It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves …” (Ps 100:3), to the end that no flesh can glory.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

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