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The Rest and the Refreshing

Posted: August 1st, 2015, by Reggie Kelly

This is the kind of mystery (see the post “After Two Days…“) inscribed in the scriptures of the prophets that only Jesus understood in His un-fallen, divinely human mind (“by His knowledge will He justify many”). It is why He was not at liberty to unpack the mystery to His disciples until the appointed time of revelation (after the cross and Pentecost). It was purposely hidden, not only from the pride of man as judgment, but the principalities and powers (those angelic rulers that stand behinds the potentates of earth). “For had they (the demon princes) known it (the mystery), they would not have crucified (inspired the crucifixion) of the Lord of glory, since it would prove their undoing.

It may sound speculative and theoretical, but until I can be corrected, this observance has led me to make some inferences that, at least for me, explain a lot. For example, I infer (not dogmatically affirm) from this that Satan cannot know or read the mind of the Spirit except as he is able to learn, second hand from the minds of those who receive spiritual illumination but who also have the natural mind because of the fall. In contrast, Jesus, being, virgin born, bypassed the fallen nature received from Adam. Although His mind was fully human, it was also fully divine, even as He grew up into all fullness, with no trace of what we have all received through our parentage through the fall.

This is how Satan was not able to know what Jesus alone could know until the time of fulfillment and revelation. It is also why it was so crucial that Jesus guard the messianic secret, even from His own disciples until the time. Whereas the demons were unique in their ability to know the identity of the Son, they could not know the hidden wisdom of the cross. Of course they know it now, too late as their judgement has been sealed.

It is the same with the mystery hid in other ages. It is to some extent knowable in a superficial and factual kind of way, but even though it is now revealed, it is only truly apprehended by the Spirit. That is why Paul would say that it is impossible for the natural man to receive the things of the Spirit. There is not the capacity for the spiritually dead to receive the things of the Spirit.

This has helped me understand better God’s strategy in using divine secrets in His war against demonic powers and judgment on the pride of man. It has also helped me understand better the use of tongues in spiritual warfare. Let me explain.

“In the law (Isa 28:11) it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord” (1 Cor 14:21).

In view of its context and primary meaning, I always puzzled over why Paul would use this specific verse from this particular context in order to support his point about tongues as a sign to the unbeliever with a view of tempering its use in the church for congregational edification. Certainly at Pentecost, and in some instances in the assemblies, to hear in one’s own language words being spoken in another language is indeed a miraculous sign to the unbeliever. It certainly availed to arrest the multitude on Pentecost in order for the gospel to be preached by Peter.

But something else was also happening on Pentecost. For the first time, the gospel of the mystery of Christ’s suffering and the glory that should follow was being preached in full light of the cross and resurrection, ascension and return. The gospel, foretold but kept a secret in times past, had now been revealed by the Holy Spirit send down from heaven (1Pet 1:11-12). Until this time, Jesus would speak in proverbs and parables, concealing to some extent what would soon be broadcast from the housetops (Mt 10:27; Jn 16:25), but until that appointed time, it is “tell no man …”

Hold this in mind as we look at Isa 28 in both its historical and further eschatological application, but before going to Isa 28, let’s look at something interesting and complementary of the point I want to make in an earlier chapter of Isaiah.

Characteristic of Hebrew prophecy in that mysterious blend of the near and the far, Isa 8:12-18 holds a glorious prophecy of the gospel,

“Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. Sanctify the Lord of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken. Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples. And I will wait upon the Lord, who hides his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells in mount Zion.”

As typical, the first, but I would not say, primary application of this prophecy is to the imminent threat of the confederacy of Ephraim (the northern kingdom of Israel) and Syria against Judah. The Lord of host, Yahweh, as particularly to be revealed in Immanuel, will be at once a hiding place for those who trust and fear the Lord, but a stone of testing, set to be a divinely prepared trap of judgement for the fearful and unbelieving. What I particularly want to point out is that in the Hebrew, to seal up and bind up means to ‘keep under wraps’ (Keil and Delitzsch). It is “the testimony” that is sealed and this is used elsewhere of the gospel, even in some translations, the mystery (1Cor 2:1).

As I will show, this agrees very nearly with what will be called in Isa 28:12, “the rest and the refreshing”, a clear allusion to the gospel. Observe that this knowledge of doctrine is arrived at by those weaned from the milk and drawn from the breast (Isa 28:9). This is background of Jesus’, Paul’s, and Peter’s language for the meat of the Word versus the milk. Notice too that this knowledge is arrived at and verified to the unbeliever by a a line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little approach that apparently shows the agreement and harmony of the interspersed parts of the prophetic testimony when properly compared and considered. That’s what we do when we make the case for the once hidden but now revealed mystery of the gospel from the prophecies of the OT (Acts 26:22; Ro 16:25-26).

Before leaving Isa 8, notice that even before the carrying away into Assyria of the northern kingdom of Israel, Isaiah is representing God’s face as hidden from larger Israel, not forever but only for a time. Isaiah and Ezekiel are very clear in showing that God’s face is hidden until the end of exile, when the last gentile aggressor is destroyed and the ‘time of the goyim’ (gentiles; Eze 30:3) ends at the day of the Lord. Until that day, the revelation of the gospel is “sealed up among my disciples” (Messiah’s disciples) until God’s face is no longer hidden from Israel.

Until then (the end of the 70th week), the vision and prophecy is sealed up among that ever increasing band of disciples who will know the hidden secret of the kingdom (Lk 8:10) by the revelation of the gospel sent down by the Holy Spirit to those who would believe on Jesus, the stone of testing. We shall see that stone again in Isa 28, and for good reason, since He is the embodiment of this mystery that brings the rest and the refreshing and gives sanctuary to the one who believes. “The children whom the Lord has given me (Isaiah’s children yes, but beyond to Messiah’s children, both Jew and gentile) are for signs and wonders in Israel.”

I want to suggest by what we will see in Isa 28 that it is particularly the gentile children of Messiah (another tongue), protesting to Israel of a misplaced trust in the arm of the flesh (covenant with death), and by implication making the case for Jesus as Messiah by a line upon line, here a little, there a little demonstration of evidence from the Hebrew scriptures. Of course, at the first, this will be dismissed but in the end, it will speak powerfully as Jacob is brought to the end of his power in preparation for the revelation of Jesus.

In Isa 28, the historical context is the contemporary threat of the Assyrian invader, but, as typical of the curious blending of the near and far horizons of Hebrew prophecy, the ultimate goal of the vision is the post-tribulational day of the Lord, as verse 5 makes very clear, as also the larger context of Isaiah’s ‘little apocalypse’ (chapters 24-28). As much as we are sure that Isa 28 points beyond the Assyrian invasion to a future covenant with death and hell (In keeping with the pattern of the past but particularly and ultimately the Antichrist. Also notice the theme of “treading down” which is seen in Lk 21:24; Rev 11:2), it should be agreeable to any conservative view of scripture that “the rest and the refreshing” of Isa 28:12 and that Jesus is quintessentially the “foundation stone laid in Zion” of Isa 28:16.

So according to the authority of the NT writers, we have definitely moved beyond the contemporary application to the broader canvas of the apocalyptic climax that always and invariably assumes the final, day of the Lord deliverance of Israel in fulfillment of the everlasting covenant. On the way there, a mystery is revealed, not only to Isaiah’s disciples in its OT form, but more ultimately to the disciples of the tested cornerstone, Jesus.

This is the gospel that secures the promised rest and refreshing for the individual believer (“disciple”) from whom the face of God is NOT hidden, even before the nation is born into its millennial salvation. This testimony of the gospel will be set forth to Israel in a compelling line upon line testimony by those of stammering lips and another tongue. Very significantly, this will be just after they have entered into their covenant with death and hell (particularly true of the first half of the week). For the moment, however, the testimony will be lightly dismissed, in no small part because it is coming to them through gentiles. That is the calculated offense! Of course, Jewish witnesses will suffer the same dismissal through a natural guilt by association. Manifestly, there is divine judgment in this. It would take an unusual humility to entertain such a thing coming from gentiles. But as Paul will show, it can also be an occasion to provoke a redemptive emulation when Jews see in gentiles the evidence of the promised Spirit as received by faith without the works of the law.

Now, of course, it is understood that the historical context of God’s speaking to Israel through stammering lips and another tongue refers most specifically to God’s covenant threat to plead with Israel through judgement by means of foreign invaders.

“The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand” (Deut 28:49). So that after the threat of further judgement is ended forever with Israel’s salvation at the day of the Lord, Isaiah can say: “Thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than you can perceive; of a stammering tongue, that you cannot understand” (Isa 33:19).

The same usage can apply to difficulty of understanding, as in Isa 32:4: “The heart also of the rash shall understand knowledge, and the tongue of the stammerers shall be ready to speak plainly.” I can only suggest what seems to me compelling evidence that God will speak, not only through the gentile invader, but through gentile witnesses, the mystery of the gospel that is the rest and the refreshing. This will be presented, line upon line, here a little and there a little out of the Hebrew scriptures (all scripture is Hebrew but of course we mean those recognized by Jews as authoritative). Included in that same testimony will be the prophetic protest concerning Israel’s ill-fated peace arrangement with the Antichrist (Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:23). But this is only the ultimate end of God’s long contention against His people’s habitual tendency to put trust in man.

Now I can come to what I wanted to say concerning a possible association between the idea of mystery as a divine strategy in spiritual warfare and our use of tongues for personal edification, and as a sign to unbelievers when tongues are supernaturally interpreted by the Spirit in another person’s hearing. It is this: God has put His secrets beyond the power of flesh to humble pride and to keep His pearls from unworthy spirits, so that the glory of His hidden wisdom, the secrets of His heart, mind, and will would not be available to anything of human self sufficiency but based solely on a relationship of intimate friendship and child like trust.

This is why where the Spirit is not specially quickening the gospel, connecting the dots, so to speak, it sounds to the unbeliever (in this case a Jewish unbeliever) like unintelligible gibberish that can be safely dismissed. It is also why the hidden things of the gospel, now revealed, openly declared, and accessible to all, remains foolishness to the natural man. It is also why that even when it is supposed that we have understood, we may not yet have understood spiritually, since this is only possible by the transforming power of the Spirit at the level of the heart, as we come by grace to really know what we only thought we knew. The point of all being our utter dependency on the quickening, illuminating power of the Spirit to spiritually apprehend and discern even those things that we assume we know. Do we yet know them? As Mt 7:23 so soberly warns of how much can be known and done by one who has never been known (intimate union) by Jesus.

As much as the natural mind is incapable of knowing or receiving the things of the Spirit apart from internalization of the truth through the Spirit’s power to quicken whom He will, it occurred to me that when we are praying in the Spirit, Satan is unable to access the meaning of what is being transacted. Although never in the sense that the spiritual man ‘knows’ in terms of intimate experience, but only through observance and what can be learned second hand through the believer’s natural mind (not to be confused with the spiritual mind) can Satan know anything of what has transpired between God and the believer. That is one reason why in tongues we are speaking mysteries. Here’s the rule: When the natural mind is shut out; Satan is shut out.

(Jesus had a fully human mind but it was not a ‘natural’ mind in the sense of fallenness and self dependency. For this cause, among many others, He was necessarily born of a virgin that He might bypass entirely the fallen nature that comes down through the seed of the man through Adam.)

For this cause, Satan cannot decode the language of intimacy or what the believer is praying in the Spirit in warfare, particularly when this is out of a glorious weakness and dependency on the Lord, that through faith, what is being uttered is not gibberish, is not foolishness, but holy mystery, known, given, quickened, and received of God. In the wisdom of God’s foolishness through tongues, we gain a bypass of all the interference and spiritual blockage that is in our natural mind and this also circumvents the ability of Satan to interfere.

From this analogy of tongues (as discussed by Paul in 1Cor 14) to the larger context of Isa 28 and the NT revelation of the formerly hidden mystery of the gospel, I think I understand better his use and application as applied to tongues. It is an analogy that was never intended to exactly conform in every point of detail. In both references, the issue is mystery that brings refreshing when miraculously translated by the Spirit. This is the analogy that applies to the nature of all mysteries that have their source and power of communication in the Spirit.

After Two Days He Will Revive Us…

Posted: July 31st, 2015, 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 the commanded 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).

That a divinely intended mystery is present in the prophetic scriptures is further confirmed by the notable phenomenon of a mysterious overlap, a kind of telescoping of the near and the far that recognizes a double horizon in prophecy. Some prophecies show a near range fulfillment in the contemporary crisis confronting the nation in the prophet’s own day. Often, the same prophecy will transcend the contemporary situation, projecting some of the attributes of the near fulfillment on to the more distant horizon of the final redemption, i.e., post-tribulational deliverance of Israel. This has been called the near and far view of prophecy. An age between could only be discerned in hindsight. This was recognized by the later prophets who were far removed in time from the former. They would continue to use the same language of the earlier prophets to describe the ultimate salvation of the nation promised in the everlasting covenant. Such a 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 of the OT 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.

I point this out because I hold a view of Hos 6:2 that is part of the mystery of Christ’s coming, departure, and return to Israel. 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 the sufficient cause for what follows in Mic 5:3? “Therefore (for this cause) shall He (Yahweh) give them up (the divine surrender of the Jewish people); Until the time that she who has come to travail has brought forth. THEN the remnant of His brethren shall return to the children of Israel.” Clearly, this is the time that Israel has been delivered over to the judicial blindness that is only removed at the Deliverer’s return to turn ungodliness from Jacob (Ro 11:25-27). The reason for the words that chill the soul as Israel’s long history of painful estrangement is contemplated, is because of the national sin in the “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 an ultimate kind 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. 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 ones 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

The Mystery of Election

Posted: July 26th, 2015, by Reggie Kelly

As to the mysteries of foreordination and predestination, there’s too much connected to this than can be accounted for by divine foresight of what men will do with the words and actions of God in history. It not something I care to debate but I must contend for what scripture plainly affirms, of course. I am neither Calvinist or Arminian in the systematic or “consistent” kind of way. I do not, for example, subscribe to limited atonement, although I understand their logic, despite its contradiction of plain scriptures to the contrary.

When it comes to those who pass into reprobation, such as Pharaoh or Judas, I certainly don’t believe God is setting those guys up. He is, as you say, foreseeing and incorporating their own self chosen rebellion into His plan. However, once they have advanced to a certain place, God is free and just to take certain measures that He knows will exacerbate their condition and drive their fallen natures into greater exposure and damnation as judgement on an already existing condition.

On the other hand, even fully respecting a certain kind of limited free will, which I do, it cannot be denied that God does NOT operate according to the perceived rules of human fairness. What do I mean? I mean you have only to look at history, as also the history of revival and conversion. Paul himself and the surviving remnant of Israel (i.e., the third that is saved in one day), are perfect examples of God “tampering” with human freedom in a way that far exceeds and surpasses what He does with the general population over the general course of time.

Who can deny that in the case of some, much more than others, He brings far greater constraints and inducements? For example, for nearly 2,000 years, most of the remnant of God’s people was from among the Jewish nation. Then, for what has been nearly another 2,000 years, it is quite the exact opposite. Then, for a final 1,000 years, there is one nation under heaven whose population is 100 % saved while all throughout the nations there is ongoing evangelism and clearly a number of increasing preponderance, particularly towards the end of the millennium who refuse to behold the majesty of the Lord (Isa 26:10). Am I to believe that all of this happens only by God’s foreknowledge of men’s free will and actions. Besides Yada, as in Amos 3:2 and its Greek counterpart, prognosei, means intimacy or prearrangement of relationship, as when Adam knew his wife, Eve. It is much more than divine omniscience. .

I believe that God is free to bring such constraints as to conquer the natural resistance of the will without violence to the will. I further believe He is free to do this in the case of some without being thereby obligated to do the same in the case of all, and that, of course, is the offense. It is also the mystery of theodicy that Paul does not solve by merely invoking free will, which He so easily could have done in anticipation of the inevitable objections. Why did God choose Jacob, an individual and a nation, but not Esau, also both individual and nation independently of their works and before works were even possible. The answer is not mere foresight of their works. That would say nothing about grace. The scripture gives the reason very clearly. It was “in order that” His purpose in grace might stand, not of him who wills or works but of Him who calls, as always, “lest any flesh boast.” Special discrimination election was necessary for grace to be grace, that is of the biblical kind.

I would tend to go with you that this is only with regard to the Jewish nation as a corporate entity and your persuasion of that puts us at one in what I believe to be the main burden of Ro 11, but corporate entities are made up of individuals, and unless someone can explain a goodly number of scriptures that shows the instantaneous salvation of the Jewish nation, with all the subsequent population preserved in gospel holiness, without a single defection that is not met with quick chastisement and correction for a thousand years, then I’ve got to believe that something more than divine foresight is at work here. It is discriminating, apprehending grace that is NOT universal for the very reason that God’s lavish mercy on one does not obligate Him to the other, though He takes nothing from, nor imposes no disadvantage on the other. He is justly free to take special measures in behalf of one without this obligating Him to do the same for another, though He has done more than enough for the salvation of all so that all are without excuse. Their greatest damnation will be His goodness to all, but there’s a manifest difference between what some call ‘common grace’ and the special grace that is manifest by His deliberate and always successful pursuit of those the father gave to Jesus to bring home.

To fail to appropriate His provision lies entirely with the free will of man. God has done all on His part to be gracious, even pleading all the day long, not willing that any perish, taking no delight in the death of the wicked. On the other hand, those who appropriate God’s provision do so under conditions and constraints that do not prevail equally and at all times so that there is nothing in them to credit for the conversion of the will and transformation of their nature. That’s where I tend to leave it. While men are free and responsible for their actions, else judgement would be a mechanical sham, still, by any reckoning, there is more going on here than mere free will and divine foresight of what men will do with what comes their way.

As God got His man on the road to Damascus in one day by a sudden blast of transforming divine revelation (“when it pleased God to reveal His son in me”), just so, He will get His nation! (“the time to favor Zion, yea, the set time has come!”) In terms of a human perception of divine fairness, where does this leave the many generations that were not so specially constrained, their power fully shattered and met by a mighty, divinely timed in-breaking of transforming revelation that kills the old and quickens the new? Not an every day event, to be sure.

God is free to raise the dead and quicken whom He will, not just those who will and run. He’s God and that’s the point He seems to go out of His way to make, even for a thousand years of requiring the nations to recognize and honor His just prerogative in discriminating election and grace. It’s a mystery, hid and laid up among His treasures from the beginning. It is a mystery how one is made to differ from another only by God’s grace, yet without injustice to those not so specially wrought upon by God, even while His just severity is seen to fall without remedy on the unwilling for the very sake of their unwillingness. But the people will be willing, not of themselves, but in the day of His power. That’s not just any day that man chooses to make the day of God’s power. It is the time of His special act. It’s a day of resurrecting grace that is specially directed on one people, but no less every individual who will make up that nation.

That’s just some of my thinking on the matter. It makes no one happy on either side, so I’ve never gotten too spoiled to having the luxury of full doctrinal agreement on this among those I love and with whom I rejoice to fellowship. But here I stand though it loses me much support, as you can imagine, even though I’ve never pushed it or indulged in the philosophical problems it can tend to create beyond what the scripture explicitly or leaves to necessary inference. There it is: Man is responsible and God is sovereign and the twain do meet. But free will, by itself, or God’s foreknowledge by itself alone, does not seem to sufficiently account for what we see in scripture, history, and most especially prophecy.

God is free and just to constrain and bring powerful and rare inducements to an extent that becomes a natural offense when the same is not done equally for others. When you think about it, both the Calvinist and the Arminian must bear the implications of this scandal to humanistic reason. Why didn’t God provide atonement and potential for repentance for Satan? His grace towards man did not thereby obligate Him towards the angels that fell and I can imagine that this is part of their rage, but that is speculative and I have to quit. It’s all too deep for me but I am only obligated to affirm what the scriptures most plainly affirm regardless of how this perturbs or disturbs the reasoning mind, mine included. Hope that helps explain me a bit more though I doubt I can answer many of the questions it must raise. I’m as non plussed about much of this as the next person, but feel God is saying something through these things that we must not miss only because it boggles the mind and creates philosophical problems. The answer seems more to bow than to understand.