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The Five Visions of Daniel



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After Two Days He Will Revive Us…

Posted: July 31st, 2017, by Reggie Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pre-Wrath vs Post-Trib

Posted: June 10th, 2017, by Reggie Kelly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

The Sure Mercies of David

Posted: June 2nd, 2017, by Reggie Kelly

In reading 2 Samuel 7:14 KJV, I came across a passage that took me aback: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:” Jesus did receive the rod of men and did take our stripes but HE did not commit iniquity. Seems out-of-place and contradictory. Further, the NIV states “When he will”, inferring that it will happen. Thoughts on this matter?

Very good question, and the Jews know it well, which is part of the grand plan, as nothing is incidental or happenstance in this kingdom, because “discernment of providence is the first element in being led of the Spirit” (Mike Snyder).

We are being confronted here with a mystery of profoundest divine intention that will either bless or stumble, depending on the disposition of the heart. It is only by a faithful and unbiased commitment to the ‘cumulative evidence’ of all that scripture says on a given subject that many of the antinomies (paradoxes, or apparent contradictions) of scripture can be solved, often with the greatest edification of glory. But this requires great patience with God’s intention to hide His secrets from the wisdom of this age while revealing them to babes.

It is a truly sublime strategy of ‘hide and seek’ that designs that the same ‘hidden wisdom’ ordained to the saint’s glory (1Cor 2:7) should elude and confound confidence in the flesh. The mysteries of God are divinely set to stumble pride, so that the wisdom of man would be its own snare, as God reserves His secrets for His friends (Gen 18:17; Isa 41:8; Amos 3:7; Jn 15:15; 1Cor 2:7; Rev 10:7), His ‘little ones’ who feel themselves hopelessly undone and cast on His mercy, daily crying, “who is sufficient for these things?!”

That said, we are dealing here with a covenant promise that is both personal and corporate. Some of it applies to the personal Messiah, David’s Lord and greater son, and some of it applies only to His spiritual seed.

It is at once the Seed (singular) of the woman, and His ‘seed’ (plural), the corporate line of all the regenerate elect of God. In both Samuel and certain of the Psalms (72 and others, forget just which), the promised Messiah is represented to apply first to Solomon, albeit in language and terms that every scripture revering Jew would at once recognize to far transcend anything realized in Solomon’s reign, clearly signifying the presence of typology.

In glorious paradox of sublimest mystery, and with notably intentional use of the exact same words, that Isaiah sees the ‘chastisement’ and the ‘stripes’ that would be laid on David’s royal heir and his children (2Sam 14:7; Ps 89:32; Isa 53:5) is laid most ultimately on the suffering Servant of Yahweh. With no guilt of His own, God has laid on Him the ‘iniquity’ of us all, and with His ‘stripes’ we are healed (Isa 53), as when those in the wilderness looked to the lifted up symbol of their destruction and were healed (Num 21:9; Jn 3:14). This is one sense in which David’s greater son and Lord was indeed visited with many stripes for the sins that were not His own but were counted to Him as though His own (2Cor 5:21). It is the mystery, but also the holy logic of divine substitution, which Jewish interpreters paradoxically can apply to corporate Israel, the righteous remnant, or some other innocent sufferer, but cannot conceive of applying to the Messiah.

Even before the creation (Acts 2:23; Rev 13:8), the ‘sure mercies’ of David (2Sam 7:13-16; 22:51; Ps 89:28-36; Isa 54:13; 59:21; 61:9; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; 33:17-16) was based on the suffering of the woman’s Seed as the Surety of a better covenant (Heb 7:22).

It is inescapable logic that in order to reverse the curse, the woman’s seed cannnot be under it. He must be free of the sin by which the curse is passed on all the race. It follows then that the Messiah must be uniquely begotten in order to be free of the taint of sin that disqualifies every other servant of God. The mystery is solved when it is seen that He will be at once human and divine, vulnerable and fully human but kept sinless as the perfect substitute. This is the logic of the virgin birth, which Isaiah understood by the Spirit’s revelation, as seen in his ‘Song of Immanuel’ (chps. 7-12), as the heel of the man child is wounded in the songs of the suffering Servant (chs. 42, 49, 50-53).

So who are David’s seed, not only his son but his children from whom His loving kindness shall ‘never depart’ (Isa 59:21; Jer 32:40), as it did from Saul? Who are these that are faithfully chastened when they sin but never forsaken? Can these be the wicked kings  ofJudah that issued from David’s line by natural descent?

As in case of the true, spiritual ‘seed of Abraham’ who are distinguished by their fruits (Mt 3:8-9; Jn 8:39) must be more than Jewish. They must be born again. Moreover, a remnant from among the natural branches must become more than a remnant. They must become an all holy nation in order to inherit the Land forever because of a righteousness that is forever (Jer 32:40; Dan 9:24). But also, because the promise that all the nations would be blessed through Abraham’s seed, an election called out from among the nations is grafted into the righteous remnant, the ‘holy seed’ (Isa 6:13) of which Messiah is the spiritual head. These too are ‘counted as the seed’ (Ro 4:16; 9:7-8, 24). (Isa 6:13) This is the spiritual seed of Abraham and of David that is the divine nature that indwells all who have been ‘born again’ of the indestructible Word of God (1Pet 1:23). As the scripture concludes, it is those who are born of the Word and the Spirit, these are the sons of God and counted for the seed (Ro 8:14; 9:8).

So this promise of the “sure mercies” of David is only to the spiritual seed, both Jewish and gentile, who stand in that line of humanity, which Paul called (speaking particularly of the Jewish branches), the ‘remnant according to the election of grace’. Manifestly, this spiritual line existed before the cross,  as also the necessity of spiritual regeneration and the new birth, as none were ever made alive nor sustained union with the living God apart from the quickening and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the corporate seed of the woman is most essentially that spiritually regenerate line of humanity reaching all the way back to righteous Abel. It includes all who are all born of the divine nature that would be perfected in the personal Seed, the Messiah and Son of God to whom the Spirit would not be given by measure (Jn 3:34) but perfectly embody all the fullness of God.

We also  note that in Isa 55:1-6, the promise of the ‘sure mercies of David’ does not wait till its final eschatological outworking in the reign of the Messiah, but was preached as available to whosoeover will, and extended to nations beyond Israel during Isaiah’s day.

Conclusion: As the ‘seed of Abraham’ is shown to require the necessity of regeneration to ‘count as the seed of promise’, and just as the nation (Isa 66:8), and therefore the individual must be born of the Spirit to enter into the kingdom (Jn 3:10), it can be no less true of David’s seed / children. They must be justified by a righteousness that is not their own. It is the righteousness of another, even “the Lord our righteousness” (Jer 23:5-6) that justifies with an everlasting salvation(Isa 45:17, 25; 54:17 ).

Paul will show in Romans that this is a distinct kind of righteousness, “the righteousness of faith” by the which David could be assured that his sins would not be imputed to him (Ps 32:1-2; Ro 4:6-8). If the faith that justifies God’s elect were mere belief, it would be possible to man, and thus something in which one could glory as finding its source in man (Jn 3:27; Ro 11:35; 1Cor 4:17). On the contrary, faith must be given (Eph 2:9; Phil 1:6). The faith of ‘God’s elect’ (Tit 1:1) necessarily overcomes the world. It must; precisely because it is ‘born of God’ (1Jn 5:4). Though graciously given, it is not of man or from man, and therefore nothing in which flesh can glory.

Because of an absolute and negligently unqualified interpretation of Jn 7:34 that says in a certain context that ‘the Spirit was not yet given’, it is hastily assumed that this distinct kind of righteousness, namely ‘the righteousness of faith’ (Ro 4:13) could exist in OT saints without the Spirit, particularly in the sense of His abiding indwelling. Quite the contrary,  Peter is clear that it was the very Spirit of Christ who was “IN” Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, David, the prophets and, we may be sure, all the righteous by faith (1Pet 1:11). No less then than now, they were the living branches, alive to God by the Spirit, as based on nothing less than the imputed righteousness of God Himself, as promised in the Surety, which is to say, a righteousness that was NOT their own, no less then than now. Theirs was the very righteousness of the Spirit.

As such, the fruit and works of the Spirit are the only works that can count with God. As the righteousness is not our own, the works too must be His alone, else room is made for human glory and this can never be! As much as this rule cannot be thought unique to the NT, but must apply to all ages and dispensations, it follows that then as now, the only works that God can regard are not our own but His within us. To mix or mingle the work of man with the work of the Spirit is to make room for human glory, which is idolatry.

Therefore, the righteousness of the saints must be altogether the righteousness of another. Where this is true and real, whether of an individual or a nation, it will necessarily be accompanied by the sure evidences of its fruits, the test of its reality.

Like the Abrahamic covenant, the Davidic covenant is NOT unconditional, but it is UNILATERAL, as signified in Abraham’s deep sleep. It is made by God within Himself alone (in that sense, unilateral). Because nothing of man can defeat a covenant that God makes within Himself alone, these covenants belong to the ‘everlasting’ of ‘new covenant’ that even the OT shows to stand above the conditional covenant of Sinai, which has, and Jeremiah will argue, CAN never secure enduring peace and security in the Land, but condemns those under it to a perpetual and hopeless covenant jeopardy, ever threatening further curse and exile until its terms can be eternally satisfied and secured.

As the NT scriptures will make even more clear, the covenant of the law at Sinai designed to cut off all hope of attaining  to the promise on the basis of natural ability. This is writ large throughout the entire story. But what is by design ‘impossible with man’ is made sure, “not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, says the Lord,” and that is the primary point the scripture underscores all throughout the history of redemption. All of history waits, not on man, or anything issuing from man, but on God who will favor Zion “at the set time” (Ps 102:13; 110:3 KJV)

This is the divine jealousy of grace apart from ‘what is in man’, to the end that no flesh can glory. This ‘hard saying’ is what we are called to help Israel see by its demonstration by the foolish nation.

This divine jealousy of a grace that depends nothing on man for its initiation or perpetuation is shown most particularly by the problem of how a covenant made with a visibly hopeless, ever backsliding nation, could ever guarantee perpetuity of obedience, so that the Land could be inherited forever, without threat of repeated covenant failure. Thus the need for a ‘better’ covenant that could guarantee the required continuance for a particular, elect nation to inherit a particular Land for an everlasting possession. This is its only hope of guarantee, that God come down and in, and that forever!

The required works of obedience would be uncompromisingly accomplished ‘in’ and ‘through’ man but not by man. This is the divine jealousy that cuts off all works that are possible to man from gaining divine acceptance or reward as pertaining to the promise. Therefore, the sure mercies of David necessarily guarantees the gift of the Spirit, and the perpetuity of the Spirit’s work to accomplish an obedience that does not fall away to further covenant cursing.


We see this perfectly in millennial Israel, and notably, they are NOT yet in glorified bodies. This spectacle of unimaginable safe keeping in abiding holiness of a nation for a thousand years of open witness is a, if not THE, primary purpose for a millennium on this earth before the perfect state. It is to show the ability of God to save and keep a people forever despite their historic track record. The millennium will put the dispute over the sovereignty of grace forever beyond dispute, just as I have learned by the Spirit to say that, from the calling of Jacob till the end of the millennium, “Israel exists to destroy all boasting!”

That the corporate, spiritual seed of David are not perfect like their head (the one, unique Son to whom the Spirit was not given by measure; Jn 3:34; KJV) is plain by the guarantee of sure and swift chastisement to those who ‘momentarily’ offend against their own ‘sure mercies’. We see this especially clearly in Ps 89:29-37; compare also Isa 59:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 33:19-36) . But it is also plain that this imperfection does not put the covenant in jeopardy by man’s natural inclination to always slide away backwards. No, quite the contrary, though chastisement is faithful and swift evidence that one is in a state of grace and truly regenerate, continuance and eternal perseverance in holiness is never in doubt, thus securing the covenant as “everlasting” (Jer 32:40 with Dan 9:24). Why? How? Because it is based on an ‘everlasting righteousness’ that cannot perish or fade but is its own faithfully resilient, eternal life source of the ”God who raises the dead”.

How does this kind of ‘eternal security’ NOT lead to license and abuse of the new liberty? It is because the heart is made new, forever new, by an indestructible divine nature by a sovereign act of new creation. Built right into to the New Covenant (synonymous with Abrahamic and Davidic installments) is the clean and holy fear of God. When the Spirit has come, the very nature that gave the law indwells the believer, and not only so, but God ‘PUTS’ His fear in the heart as intrinsic to the new nature. Where this fear is absent, or grows dim, it is a sure sign of one of two things: Either divine discipline is at the door, or its complete absence is a clear indicator that the heart has never been changed at its root, as God has not been known by revelation of the Spirit.

Regeneration cannot exist at one and the same time apart from the sure presence of this kind of love and this kind of holy fear. That is why the regenerate ‘seed’ of woman, of Abraham and David show that the works of the law to be written in their hearts, because when the law is in the heart, to break one of its commandments is to break the heart (compare 1Cor 7:19 with Gal 6:15), and to do so lightly is to invite sure and certain discipline, with increasing severity, if need be unto death (1Cor 11:32).

To see to the end of David’s sure mercies, and thus to the end of the New Covenant, as eternally secure in the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, we have only to go to the future millennial blessedness of the natural seed of Jacob, since for the believer, the prophesied future is as sure as the past. There we see that in all the generations of those who are the combined natural and spiritual seed of Abraham, Jacob, and David, for a thousand years, not one born to Jewish parentage will ever fail or depart from this ‘everlasting covenant’. They are all saved and kept unto children’s children without the exception (Isa 4:3; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 39:22, 28-29; Zeph 3:13, etc. et al). This is the millennial outworking of the ‘everlasting / new covenant’, which is synonymous with the Davidic covenant as ‘sure mercies’. This is why the covenant of promise will no longer be in jeopardy through the broken law.

The Spirit has come; not merely upon a remnant, as in other generations (leaving always the danger of sliding back to curse and exile) but now, at length, ‘all Israel’ is saved, each and every Jew, from the least to the greatest (Jer 31:34), with ‘none left behind’ (Eze 39:28), and so on for a thousand years of open demonstration of covenant fidelity, as the nations are made to look on with either emulation and access to the same grace, or with resentment and contempt at God’s prerogative to choose as He will choose, all to the end that no flesh can glory.

By design, election tests the heart to discover any presumed claim on divine grace. God resists all thought of entitlement on any other ground than mercy alone, that gives the grace to believe in the God who raises the dead. This is shown beautifully in the episode with the Syro-Phoneician woman (Mt 15). This is why God’s heart of universal love for all who are made in His image is necessarily and wisely ‘MEDIATED’ through a people who can claim nothing for themselves, as of themselves. It is mediated on the basis of divine election for this very clear purpose: “IN ORDER THAT the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls” (Ro 9:11, 16).

This is how a people who were dead shall live; and continue in abiding security from all their enemies forever, because of a righteousness that is forever. Then as now, the sign of sonship will be the faithfulness of God to chasten all waywardness, and this fear (in no discrepancy with this God kind of love as proof of the divine nature(, will keep every Jewish inheritor of His holy mountain, and every child born to them’ ‘unto children’s children’ for a thousand years of open display (Isa 54:13; 59:21; compare esp. JN 6:45 to show that this covenant is not only millennial but now).

(Note: While massive salvation will be experienced among the nations of the gentiles, this promise of uniform salvation of all its population stands with no other nation. While the nations will flow to and from the Land and holy city promised to the natural seed (as all now saved; Ro 11:26), among them is no such promise of uniform salvation. This is God’s open, public vindication of His sovereign ability to ‘quicken whom He will’ and keep them secure in their land, “world without end”).

This will be a spectacle of the sovereignty of grace, designed to move either to emulation or envy and contempt, as seen by the revolt at the end of the millennium. All of this is made sure and secure by an indestructible new nature that prohibits all false assurance by professors whose works deny their hasty claims (Titus 1:16; 2Tim 2:19; 1Jn 2:19; ). It is those two golden, glorious words of Paul: “in Christ.” There is the locus of the everlasting covenant and sure mercies of David, “in Christ!” The covenant is made secure by the Spirit’s quickening ‘revelation’ of the gospel, for therein, and only therein, is the righteousness of God revealed. This is the only power that is sufficient to secure the corporate ‘seed of David’, which is the ‘seed of Christ’, the curse reversing Seed of the woman.

This regeneration by the Spirit is certainly not limited to those born again of the Spirit and the Word since Pentecost. Though revealed in time, His blood avails for all, as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. He is the eternal surety of all the elect, as those ‘eternally’ elect, ‘the (eternally foreknown) remnant according to the election of grace’ were as born again as any since Pentecost, since it is only the Spirit that has ever given life and the ‘revealed’ nature of God and quickening of new life. As I often remind; never assume that because something is newly revealed, or has come to greater light, that it is necessarily new as to existence and reality.

It will take a miracle more powerful than the world has witnessed since the resurrection of Jesus for the Jewish survivors of the last holocaust will see this. It will be life from the dead. Until then, the election and the love that decreed it is irrevocable. The dead are dead until quickened, and no amount of ‘relative’ human measurements of good or evil can even factor into a salvation that is utterly apart from works (note the story of Mannaseh of Judah). Therefore, grafted in branches should marvel and wonder, not at their fall, but at our grace, as utterly contrary to nature. We should have mercy, since they were confronted with a profound mystery that God ordained and designed to be ‘shut up and sealed’ from all pride (what flesh is not?). God deliberately hid this mystery in the writing of the prophets to be revealed at the set time, first at Pentecost, and then to the Jewish nation at the end of the 70th week. In the meantime (two days of Hos 6:2), they are enemies “FOR YOUR SAKE,” gentile!

How CAN they believe except God open their eyes? How did we believe? What do we have that we did not receive, so how glory? (1Cor 4:7). Are we less stubborn? If God went away and hid His face from us, could we see what we have been helped to see? It is by our mercy that God has ordained that they shall at length receive mercy. We justify God’s holy severity, even while we marvel that we should escape by grace alone and the sovereign drawing power of the Spirit. A lack of love for Israel in their blindness, particularly in their blindness, is a sure sign of boasting that will meet with no less a mystery designed to confound and condemn the boaster, as God has laid, particularly through the mystery of Israel, a snare and a trap for all confidence in the flesh.

In brotherly love and appreciation, Reggie