The Apocalyptic Righteousness of the Unveiled Mystery

While reflecting on what stands at the heart of the gospel, I thought first of what Paul called, “the goal of the commandment” in Titus 1:5. “Now the end (goal) of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.”

That is indeed the outworking of the fruit of His life within us, as to our sanctification, but it’s foundation and root is deeper still. It’s root is the resurrection life of Jesus, as both imputed and imparted to the justified believer. Its source is as far from the strength of nature as the budding of Aaron’s rod.

Paul says this righteousness is now revealed in the recently unveiled “mystery of the gospel”.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

In Eph 6:19 and elsewhere Paul calls the gospel a mystery that was fully foretold in the prophetic writings (Acts 26:22), but kept secret in times past till the appointed time of revelation (Ro 16:25-26). Why only now, with the post-resurrection revelation of the gospel, is this righteousness revealed? Wasn’t the righteousness of God already fully revealed and well established all throughout the scriptures?

How is the righteousness of God which might be seen as a source of terror to a sin stricken conscience to be understood as good news? It is because this is the justifying righteousness of God whereby He justifies the ungodly (Ro 3:25-26; 4:5). It is the righteousness by which a helpless condemned sinner is enabled to stand blameless in the presence of unapproachable holiness.

This righteousness is wholly other, because it is nothing of our own (Ro 10:3; Phil 3:9). It has no of point intersection with even the highest ethic within human reach or power. It is of a completely different origin and source in that it resides in only one person.

Of course we are speaking of the very righteousness of the Lord Himself, but particularly as wrought out and perfected in only one place. That is the seamless garment of His own humanity as our representative, as the second Adam, “the Lord from heaven” (1Cor 15:47).

Our second Adam passes the impossible test for us and reverses the curse, not only by expiating our guilt, but by imputing to us the very righteousness that He perfected in His representative humanity, as necessarily lived out “under the law” (Mt 3:15 with Gal 4:4). This righteousness, though revealed in the gospel, is only imputed to a faith that has been “born of God” and quickened by the Spirit by the transforming revelation of His face (Mt 11:27 with Jn 5:21; Ro 9:18; 2Cor 3:18; Eph 2:1; Tit 3:5; 1Jn 5:4).

This is not the righteousness whereby God is righteous in His heaven, though it is in perfect union with that too. No, our justification is located, not in ourselves, but in another person’s righteousness (Ro 3:25-26). That is the righteousness that was perfected in the Lamb of God over 33 1/2 years of spotless obedience under the exacting inspection of the law.

This is the only righteousness that God can accept. To presume to come before Him in anything less or other than this man’s righteousness is an affront of intolerable presumption. The imputation of this one, only acceptable, pure, unmixed, fully complete righteousness of Christ Himself is the indispensable wedding garment that alone stands between joyful, abundant acceptance and stern rejection (Mt 22:11-13).

Christians must know by the Spirit the holy dread of presuming to appear before God in any lesser righteousness than this. It is this righteousness that is given to the least truly regenerate believer, not in the part but in the whole, as though perfectly performed by each one under the exacting scrutiny of the law.

If we could grasp this for all its implication by the Spirit of revelation, as a dear brother once said, “the ground would shake before us!” Some things are just too glorious for us to grasp, even when acknowledged as true, unless it comes by the power of divine revelation, and how rare is that?

This righteousness not only exceeds the righteousness of the scribes Pharisees; it even surpasses Jesus’ contemporaries’ highest conceptions of John the Baptist. We must ask, why does Jesus use the example of John the Baptist to send home the point that even the least citizen of the kingdom of heaven is greater than him?  What is Jesus’ meaning here?

Jesus appropriates the popular view of John’s high spiritual and prophetic stature to push their conceptions of him to the completely inconceivable level of “none greater” born of woman (Mt 11:11). He did this to underscore and magnify how much greater the very least citizen of that realm is than even the most spiritual and approved among God’s servants of whom none has ever been greater.

Think how this must have been taken. Jesus is inviting them to conceive the inconceivable, and for one purpose. That purpose, I submit, is to show, not an exceedingly surpassing greatness, but an exceedingly surpassing righteousness. As in the case when Jesus terrifies His Jewish contemporaries with the forbidding task of exceeding the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees (Mt 5:20). So here, He sets before them the possibility of exceeding the highest conceptions of John’s spiritual greatness. How can these things be? Exactly!

Jesus is laying the foundations for Paul’s doctrine of justification by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness, as a unique kind of righteousness, which has no earthly comparison. He is giving us to understand that this righteousness of the kingdom of heaven is nothing of our own, but wholly His alone.

This is the OT promise of an “everlasting righteousness” (Dan 9:24). It is the righteousness of the new / everlasting covenant (Isa 59:21; Jer 31-34; 32:40). It is the promise that “in the Lord will all Israel be saved with an everlasting salvation” (Isa 45:17). It is the righteousness of the Lord by which “all the seed of Israel shall be justified and shall glory” (Isa 45:25). It is the expectation that in that day, it will be the Lord who works all their works in them (Isa 26:12). “And their righteousness is of ME, says the Lord” (Isa 54:17).

It is the righteousness of the Lord Himself, but particularly as wrought out, performed, and fulfilled in the person of our representative humanity, the scion of David, the curse reversing Seed of the woman, the second Adam.

“Behold, the days come, says the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby He shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Jer 23:5-6).

The implication of this glorious truth will be totally lost if we assume that John stood on the outside of the kingdom of heaven. Quite the contrary! Some were pressing into the kingdom at that very time and taking it by force (Mt 11:12; Lk 16:16). Others were refusing to enter and blocking the way for those seeking to enter (Mt 23:13).

So this is not a kingdom that is only future on the far side of the great tribulation, as commonly and correctly expected by the Jews. Rather, Jesus is revealing the mystery of the kingdom as present and active, even as the outward structures of this evil age remain.

The kingdom is a revelatory (apocalyptic) phenomenon as well as a chronological event. It can be “at hand”, not only in terms of chronological time, though that too, but in terms of a realm that is only accessible to the Spirit of revelation. One must be made spiritually alive (born again) to see it (Jn 3:3 with 1Pet 1:23). It is present and suffering violence now, as it is being brought decisively near by the presence of its uncrowned King.

The action of the King is the action of the kingdom. The proof that the kingdom has come in power is in the binding of the strong man and the spoiling of his house, as demonstrated by the expulsion of demons by the finger of God (Mt 12:28-29).

So it is clear that John was in the kingdom as Jesus was preparing His disciples to understand its presence among them, as He begins to reveal to them what He calls, the “mystery of the kingdom”. The popular and correct understanding was that the messianic deliverance of the kingdom of God on earth comes only after the tribulation and its climax in the long awaited great day of the Lord. Against this background, Jesus begins to introduce the revolutionary new concept that the promised deliverance of the long awaited kingdom of God has two distinct stages, one present and one to come.

This kingdom that Jesus announces as presently “at hand” is not entirely new. It has always been an ever present and active reality (Ps 103:19; 145:11-13; Dan 4:17, 25, 32), but now “the time is fulfilled” for the great transition that brings the first fruits of the fulfillment of the ancient promise (M 1:15) . Even with the promise now partially fulfilled in the suffering of the Lamb that precedes the glory (Acts 3:18-21; 1Pet 1:11), there is a future glory and greater fulfillment and manifestation of the kingdom of God when all the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea (Isa 11:9; Hab 2:14). But now, even in the temporary absence of the risen and ascended King (Lk 19:11-15 with Dan 7:13-14), the kingdom is no less present in mystery form, as active in the person and power of the Holy Spirit, not only in the age to come but even now.

This revelation of the mystery of the kingdom stood in contrast (but not contradiction) to the common Jewish expectation of one coming of the Messiah in connection with Israel’s post-tribulational deliverance at the day of the Lord. The mystery of the kingdom is based on the unknown secret of two separate comings of Messiah (Acts 26:22-23; Ro 16:25-26).

The foundation of this kingdom is not simply righteousness as the world, with its religions, sects, and cults has always conceived of God and the demands of His character and laws. That understanding is common to man and leaves one fatally short of the righteousness of God that is imputed to the believer in Jesus alone.

No, this is an “apocalyptic” (unveiled) righteousness that requires the Spirit’s revelation to understand and grace, because it is a righteousness of another kind. The Reformers called this an “iustitia alien” (alien righteousness).  It is apart from me; it’s not mine inherently. It belongs to Christ. It’s source is God alone by grace alone through faith alone. Yet the imputation of His righteousness assures that the Holy Spirit has come to work the works of God in and through the justified believer.

This is why we are careful to clarify and insist that “whereas we are justified by faith alone, the faith that justifies is never alone”. The righteousness that justifies us also guarantees its lively working in and through us by the indwelling Spirit of Christ. The truth of whether we are in the faith in vital reality (2Cor 13:5) is shown and vindicated by the fruits of the Spirit (Mt 7:19; Mk 4:20; Jn 15:2; Ro 7:4; Gal 5:22; Phil 1:11; Ja 2:18) , albeit in varied measure differing between believers (“some thirty, some sixty, and some a hundred fold”; Mk 4:8).

To see (really see and apprehend by the Spirit) this righteousness of the King, as actually belonging to everyone in the kingdom, even those of the least spiritual maturity or stature, one must be born again, since “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3).

According to Jesus, the spiritual birth is not new. Nicodemus should have understood this as a fundamental presupposition of all spiritual life (Jn 3:10). This righteousness is the only ground and basis by which anyone was ever justified at any time or dispensation.

The Father already had in His secure possession the predestined work of the Son, counted as already done, even before the beginning of creation (Ro 8:20; Eph 1:4-5, 9-11; 3:11; Heb 9:12; 13:20; Rev 13:8). This is how God could give the Spirit of Christ to OT believers on the basis of a work yet to be accomplished in “the fullness of time” (Gal 4:4), even before the full revelation of how this would be accomplished in the gospel of the Messiah’s twofold appearing to Israel (Acts 26:22-23; Ro 16:25-26; Eph 6:19; 1Pet 1:11)

Can we even begin to take this in? In the words of Fanny J. Crosby, “I scarse can take it in!” Indeed, no one can, except by the quickening of the Spirit’s illumination. Yet when we see this clearly and grasp its implications by the grace of the Spirit’s illumination, we will begin to grasp the unfathomable glory implied by such a righteousness as this.

Can we believe that we really are, not only someday, but right now this very righteousness of God in Christ? The scripture certainly affirms this. “For He made (counted) Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2Cor 5:21).

Only by the grace of revelation can we begin to grasp the inconceivable implications of 2Cor 5:21 and therefore the glory of Jn 5:24. What had, until then, only been associated with a future hope is here declared by Jesus to be the present possession of every truly regenerate believer. “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”

Could grasping this by the Spirit be what it means to enter His rest? I think so. The writer of Hebrews calls this blessed estate, “the full assurance of faith.” This is far more rare than usually assumed by superficial views of the nature of true, Spirit quickened, saving faith.

This is the overcoming faith that shows itself through testing to be truly “born of God” (1Jn 5:4). It is not the lifeless, fruitless faith that is no better than the faith of demons (Ja 2:19). It is not the superficial, rootless faith that is quickly withered by the heat of temptation and adversity (Lk 8:13). It is the very faith of Christ at work in the believer (Jn 6:28-29; Rom 3:22; Gal 2:16, 20). It is the faith that Paul calls, “the faith of God’s elect” (Tit 1:1).

The Roman Catholics at Trent branded this glorious doctrine of imputed righteousness a “legal fiction”. To which I answer, if it is no legal fiction that He who knew no sin could counted as sin, not by His own sin, but by the imputation of mine; how is it a legal fiction if I should be counted the righteousness of God by a righteousness that is not mine, but His freely imputed to me? Oh wonder of wonders!

“And indeed, this is one of the greatest mysteries in the world; namely, that a righteousness that resides in heaven should justify me, a sinner on earth!” (John Bunyan).

No wonder Jesus said, “except a man be born again, he cannot see …” Not only can he not see the kingdom; he cannot see or understand the kingdom’s unique and only righteousness. This righteousness is not only impossible for the natural man to receive; it is impossible for him to conceive. It must be revealed.

Romans 1:17
“For therein (the gospel) is the righteousness of God revealed ….”

Posted in Apocalyptic Righteousness, Christ In You The Hope of Glory | Comments Off on The Apocalyptic Righteousness of the Unveiled Mystery

ESV on Dan 9:25-26?

Unless God supernaturally intervenes, translation work is not an exact science.

Yes, the ESV has some poorly translated spots here and there, but no more than most others. Except in the case of Dan 9:25 ESV, Dan 9:26 ESV. (Compare with Dan 9:25, 26 KJV) That isn’t just a poor translation; it’s bad! Yet, even there, there are arguments, coming mostly from liberal Christian and Jewish Hebrew scholars that make a case for it to be translated precisely as it is in the ESV. This translation has “given great occasion to the enemies” of the messianic interpretation.

That translation made the anti-missionaries happy, giving legitimization by Christian translators to what Jewish Hebrew scholars have been protesting all along. Of course, speaking from a strictly “technical” linguistic standpoint, it can also be JUST as legitimately translated the way KJV, NKJV, NASB, and nearly every other Christian translation in history has translated it UNTIL the ESV came along and makes this massive concession and capitulation to what Jewish scholars have been insisting all along to be the result of Christian bias, tampering with the text, giving it a forced, “unnatural” meaning. But unnatural to who?

They argue that it is the Christian who has the vested interest to “force” the text to yield a meaning that would be unnatural unless one was already predisposed to see in it one Messiah rather than two. For Jews who have no such vested interest (?), it is argued that one should see two messiahs, not Israel’s long awaited anointed Davidic ruler of ancient promise, but two priestly figures or anointed leaders, one after the first seven weeks (49 years) and another after the 62 weeks (434 years), with the latter anointed leader killed, usually by some usurper.

So what’s the tiebreaker between (some would argue) equally technical options? Well, it’s context! context! context!

But how one is inclined to see the context becomes the decisive question. Who then is willing to ask what would seem the “natural” and I think decisive question concerning the context? What is the burden of the context? Ask yourself; would Daniel be expecting an “end” (consummation) to the times of the Gentiles and Israel’s everlasting deliverance from exilic suffering, not to mention his own personal resurrection at the “END” of the final week? Would he be expecting all of this to take place WITHOUT a single reference to the appearance and death of the “curse reversing seed of the woman”, AKA the Messiah, son of David Son of God? This is what we’re asked to believe. Even the Son of Man in Dan 7 is to be interpreted simply as a metaphor for a corporate human figure symbolizing the kingdom of the saints in contrast to the beast-like kingdoms of carnal man.

Is the cutting off of the anointed prince there in Dan 9:26 just some priest that got killed by some usurper. This is the typical understanding of interpreters less “interested” to see Jesus or the Davidic Prince of Israel in this passage.

Or is this Isaiah’s suffering Servant, “cut off” (Isa 53:8) in substitutionary atonement for His people’s transgressions? Scholars just can’t figure out why this death of this particular anointed leader should just happen to fall exactly one week (7 years) before the end. But what end? The answer of liberal scholars has always been to see this as the death of Onias III and the seven years the “approximate” time of the 2300 days of Antiochus’ persecution of the Jews.

Or, is the “end” in view the “grand” end and climax of the covenant in Israel’s deliverance and the resurrection of the righteous? How about the same “end” that is mentioned all throughout the rest of the book? How about THAT end?! That’s an effective point in dialogue with Jews, Christians, and Joe unbeliever, but not pragmatic liberals. Here too, they will say, yes, this is exactly the “end” that a pseudonymous Daniel had in mind. He simply ventured a prediction that didn’t come to pass as expected.

Pseudo-Daniel’s predictive blunder permits liberal biblical criticism firm certainty that the book is to be dated circa 168 B.C. Why? Because this is where the pseudonymous author, presenting history as prophecy up to this point, now ventures to make an actual prediction concerning Antiochus’ end and the resurrection of the maskilim that simply failed to happen.

Still, somehow, such an obviously discredited “pious fraud” survived and made its way, not only into the Hebrew canon in the first century A.D., but into the library of the Essenes of the Qumran community in the second century B.C.

These were the contemporaries and successors to the history of the Maccabean struggle that saw Antiochus’ persecution as fulfillment, but also knew his end came about in a way that was completely contradictory to the end described of the the little horn / vile person of Daniel’s prophecy. And this is not even to mention that no resurrection happened, and Israel soon fell back under the power of Rome. How then does such obviously failed prophecy make it into canonical acceptance, as revered by even near contemporaries of when the liberals date the book?

You can see the assault of the powers of the air in their dread of this book’s contents and what this portends for their end. As Travis so often says, “and therein lies the problem!” 🙂

Why all the fuss and confusion? You’ll guess my usual answer, but “It’s the mystery, Watson!” Always the mystery! Closed up and sealed till the time of the end!

Not too often, but very occasionally, how we see the big picture will determine translational decisions for weal or for woe. Can we even conceive that God deliberately left us just enough rope to hang ourselves with if we are not very careful, believing that not one jot or tittle can pass without perfect, detailed fulfilment of every line of the sacred trust. This is no less true, even in the pious, most often completely sincere science / art of translation.

I believe that here too God has “hid these things from the wise and prudent”. To arrive at the truth that God Himself has hidden within the text takes a miracle of mercy. It doesn’t come naturally, and great learning is no advantage where the secrets of God are concerned.

By sovereign design, He has put these difficulties right in the text for His purposes in mercy and judgement and so none can glory. He has done just that in a few places throughout scripture, particularly where the sealed vision of eschatology is concerned.

Many fail to see beyond the partial, albeit sometimes quite remarkably parallels in history to insist on a much more precise and exhaustive fulfillment in the future at the end. Yet there are many instances of this telescoped perspective of blending the near and the far in Hebrew prophecy. We see this particularly in Dan 8 & 11 for just one example, but even somewhat in the Olivet prophecy.

This phenomenon of a double horizon in prophecy works as a kind of decoy, hiding and obscuring from the hasty scholarly mind the necessity of a more thoroughly detailed and exhaustive fulfilment at the end, repeating what took place in real pattern and principle on the near horizon, but now in much more exhaustive, fuller precision of detail at the end. Here we stand!

Posted in Daniel, Opposing Views | Comments Off on ESV on Dan 9:25-26?

It is Finished

In John 17, Jesus made these two statements: “I have finished the work which you gave me to do.” And, “Now I am no more in the world.” He was still here, and still had the cross to endure.
Do you think these words pivot off what Revelation so surprisingly tells us, that Jesus was “Slain from before the foundation of the world”?

Above and behind all the contingencies of time that seem so contingent and uncertain to us, Jesus lived and walked in a whole other place. He walked in the works that had been finished already before the foundation of the world. He walked, lived and labored out of the rest (Heb 4:3, 11). ).

With the cross still before Him, and even before He would plead that the cup be somehow removed, even while knowing this would be impossible, since for this cause He came into the world. This seeming contradiction between a predestined inevitably and the Son’s appeal as though some lingering ignorance of an unavoidable certainty had come over Him.

This is no contradiction at all!, as some wicked gainsayers have suggested. On the contrary, this is the nexus of the glory of the incarnation, of the One who so emptied Himself to be exalted, as a man!, to the highest preeminence, even equality with God! Precisely here is the greatest demonstration of the perfect convergence of a fully poured out humanity in a final act of perfectly voluntary submission to the will of His Father in the face of the unbearable and incomprehensible .

Consider: He knew He was not just about to die but take on Himself the full punishment of divine wrath due the sin of the world. Certainly He would ask the cup be removed, “if possible”. He wouldn’t be human if He did not stagger beneath the weight of all that His prophetic senses could only contemplate with an intensity beyond our capacity to imagine. Let’s ponder this for a moment.

He knew He was asking the impossible, but the scripture wanted us to see the glory of a fully submitted humanity that would not be human if it did not shudder and shrink in horror at what now lay just before Him.

In the words of the grand old hymn, “did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?” I would ask, did e’er such humanity and deity meet, or the Father’s love and glory more surround?

If we could only know the power of weakness, we could begin to understand the glory of that one word, “nevertheless”. “Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done.” When that heart of utter submission dwells in a person, it is a piece of incarnation, as it reflects living witness to the mystery of the incarnation itself. Why? Because this kind of love, and voluntary submission in the face of such sacrifice on behalf of another, particularly an enemy, is “impossible with man”. This is why martyrdom is so central to the faith. It is not human heroics; it is submitted love. But back to the point.

It is so amazing to contemplate that the one who could say outside the grave of Lazarus …

And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. John 11:42

comes now to Gethsemane, with a request that though gloriously heard, could never be granted, and Jesus knew it only too well. Still, His very humanity required expression in the impossible request, and the scripture was unwilling that we should fail to hear it.

But lest anyone vainly imagine that for something to be an inevitable and predestined certainty that it is somehow automatic or mechanical, look again. Jesus did nothing by external constraint or necessity, but only by the liberty of the Spirit. It was very necessary that no man take His life from Him (though men would be the witless agency), but that He lay it down “FREELY” of His own accord. Freedom, the God kind of freedom, is also at the very heart of a predestined incarnation of the Spirit of liberty.

Even while seeing, I know I don’t see. The glory of this is blinding. It would take a very uncommon revelation to begin to even conceive, let alone grasp.

The reason for this is very much to your question.

As no one else has ever walked, Jesus walked in perfect, unfettered faith in works that were finished (predestined) — already accomplished, before the foundation of the world. He lived in the past tense in the sense that He saw His future as already accomplished. Still, He prayed and groaned and travailed in prayer for the birthing and coming forth of God’s predestined future.

No contradiction here, just our mortal minds faced with the incomprehensible power of God to balance freedom, responsibility, and a fixed and unalterable predestination. And aren’t we glad God is in control of every sparrow that falls? Pity those who are afraid to embrace their best friend — the predestining power of God.

Imagine rising up in the morning, knowing you will be walking in works that were predestined before creation? Jesus lived with this consciousness. He lived each day as predestined, and in that sense past. Each day was predicted by a certainty that could not be stopped, though all hell should make it all the more glorious in the futile attempt.

We live in all the uncertain contingencies of the natural world around us, we struggle in suspense of all the maybes and what if’s of this life. Jesus lived in the consciousness that everything, literally everything concerning Him was on a predestined timeline. Is there something here for us?

The free actions and seemingly free decisions of men, enemies and disciples alike, would all fall into perfect service of a predestined plan that was perfectly ordained and utterly impossible to thwart or alter. In the words of my beloved brother, Art. “How’s them apples?”

How does that work? Exactly! We cannot grasp such a concept. Why strain and break our brain. Such paradox should not be cause for debates over philosophical, theological questions over freedom and determination, but amazement and worship at the power of grace to win the battle despite all the gates of hell, freedom and contingency notwithstanding. We can only bow and worship at such wonders that defy comprehension.

It all had to be just so, with no part (cog) missing or out of its appointed place, because the whole original purpose for creation depended on it. And not only the cross at just some eventuality along the way, but by a predestined set time under the equally ordained (pre-set) circumstances, with every player in place, yet with no violence to the will of responsible individuals. But precisely at this time, under no other possible set of circumstances. How do you do that? Only God!, which is precisely the point.

I’m now coming to the verse that I think speaks most to your question, but first one more verse that is very much like it.

John 13:3-4
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He rises from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself …

Here is the Lamb of God’s grand exit from this world, and what does He do? He stoops to wash our feet! Take that in. This is astonishing! This is His statement that will only begin to be conceived or understood in retrospect.

Jesus said and did a lot that would only be understood in retrospect, but oh, the glory of looking back in hindsight at all that the Father was so perfectly controlling to the tiniest detail. What part could have been left out? Even the human editing of every word of the four gospel accounts is part of a perfectly sovereign, utterly superintendence, right down to the finest detail. As Jesus said, “not one jot or tittle can pass from the Torah unfulfilled.” Now that’s micro-management! Yes, God is all about the details and the small print. He guards the jots and the tittles as all a piece with the ‘seamless garment’ of the sacred trust of our divinely sent canon, perfectly supervised in its preservation and transmission.

Only Jesus could see how a perfectly predestined future was not put in doubt by the necessity of the indispensable, equally predestined travail of holy intercession that was no less voluntary, but constrained by the grace of the Spirit. We must note how nothing of what God ordains is dispensable. Prayer is the ordained means to all of God’s ordained ends. There is no conflict between a predestined outcome and the equally predestined means to its birthing into the creation, even though the works were finished before the foundation of the world. Big thoughts for our little minds! But back to the verse that is to your question.

“And now I am in the world …” These are words that look at the present from the eternal perspective above time, that sees by the “Spirit of prophecy” what is to come as though already accomplished. This is a common characteristic of Hebrew prophecy. Scholars call it the “prophetic past tense”. This is a common characteristic of Hebrew prophecy which can accomodate temporal conditionality and contingency based on response with an absolute predestination that assures a certain response at a certain, foretold time. That’s sovereignty!, where nothing of the tension is lost, but nothing is left to uncertainty. This is because the whole, with all its moving parts, is being perfectly controlled towards a predestined end, and that end, and the perfectly foretold process leading to it, is never put at the mercy of mere foresight alone.

The logic of all that the scripture says of God’s attributes in the Trinity of persons concerning an eternal purpose that had no beginning in time but always existed in the Godhead (as one brother put it, “from all eternity, there was a cross in the Godhead), leads us to conclude that the Father and the Son were enjoying the end of the timeline as already finished before it started. It was done before it began. That’s what this language, especially here in John is intended to convey. Now for those final two verses that bring this out most perfectly, also here in Jn 17, in what has been called, “Jesus’ high priestly prayer”.

John 17:4-5
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. (Spoken as already finished when the cross still lay ahead)

And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

If that isn’t glorious Trinitarian language, I don’t know what would be!

From His perspective, Jesus has already been here and returned to the Father. This glory that the eternal Son had with the Father before the creation always existed in full finished certainty and fellowship of mutual enjoyment, and all on the basis of what was now, just about to be accomplished in time.

In the words of Fanny J. Crosby, “I scarce can take it in!” Think about it. The cross, and all the things of time that would be constructed around this great, eternally centermost event that was not only known and predestined in God, but the object of eternal, pre-temporal fellowship and enjoyment of infinite glory in the Godhead before anything had been created. It was finished before it began, but it all depended on that one center-most event of time — the cross.

Seen this way, Jesus’ last words from the cross. “It is finished!”, takes on a meaning that reverberates through all time and eternity from the Alpaha to the Omega.

That is who He is. He’s everything! All things have been put in His hands and only the Father Himself can weigh His worth!!’


Posted in The Cross of Christ, The Everlasting Covenant, The Lamb of God | Comments Off on It is Finished

The Stage is Not Yet Set: Critical Distinctions

What do you think of this article Reggie?

Good thoughts, good points, raising a very timely question. However, and it’s a big however, we must never forget the larger surrounding context of Zech 12:2-3. Obviously, the final siege of Jerusalem ends when the repentant survivors of Israel “look upon Him whom they pierced” (Zech 12:10), as a fountain for cleansing is opened (Zech 13:1). So when do “all” nations gather against Jerusalem? (Zech 12:3; 14:2), and what are the circumstances that will be prevailing at the time?

It may come as a surprise, but not all nations that come to fight at Jerusalem are being driven by an antisemitic hatred. Not all the nations that are gathered to Armageddon are coming against Israel. This is not well known, but contrary to popular prophecy scenarios, the final siege of Jerusalem is not directed against the Jews but against the Antichrist (Dan 11:40-45). The modern state of Israel will have already been overwhelmed and conquered 3 1/2 years earlier. This is clear from Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:1, 7, 11 with Mt 24:15-16, 21; Rev 11:2; 12:6, 14. A careful comparison between Eze 39:8, Dan 11:40-45, and Rev 16:12-17 will show that “at the time of the end”, the nations are directing their attack against the Antichrist, little expecting that they will be meeting the returning Lamb of God. Armageddon is the time at the end of the tribulation that all nations, deceived by demons (Rev 16:13), are rushing headlong into the trap that God has prepared for all who have ignored His everywhere declared covenant Word.

At this time (i.e., the end of the tribulation), the nations are not coming to destroy the Jews. They are coming to oppose the Antichrist who will have set up his royal pavilion on God’s holy mountain (Dan 11:45). It is then that the gathered armies of the nations will come flooding into the valleys of Esdraelon, Jehoshaphat (Decision), and Jezreel (Hos 1:5; 2:22-23; Joel 3:2, 12-17), only to “fall upon the mountains of Israel” (Eze 394, 17). God will use, not only the rabid antisemitism of the Antichrist and his ten, but the revolt of other great nations that have apparently found his yoke unbearable. In this way, God will fulfill His long declared intention to bring all the nations into a final trap of judgment for their defiance or indifference to the prophetic Word of God (see Isa 5:26; 13:4-6; 14:24-26; 17:12-13; 29:7-8; 34:2; Eze 38:4-6; 39:8; Dan 11:40-45; Joel 3:2; Mic 4:11; Zeph 3:8; Zech 12:3, 9; 14:2-3, 16; Rev 16:12-17).

Not all nations will unite with the Antichrist against Israel. Some will express astonishment and helpless disapproval (Eze 38:12-13), while others such as Egypt will be ravaged at the same time that Israel is ravaged by the same fierce king (Isa 28:2; 19:4; Dan 8:23-25). Notice that whereas Ezekiel is notably prolific in his prophecies concerning Egypt, curiously, Egypt is not mentioned in the list of nations that come against the Land under the leadership of Gog (i.e., the Antichrist; cf. Eze 38:17). This strange silence speaks volumes. Evidently, Egypt is among the moderate Arab nations that are at peace with the peace, intensifying the hatred of the Antichrist that will also break out with fury against Egypt at nearly the same time he makes his move against Israel (Dan 11:42).

If we are correct to understand that the covenant that the Antichrist ‘confirms’ (strengthens / gives formal approval) in Dan 9:27 is indeed the “holy covenant” of Dan 11:28, 30 that is violated in the middle of the week (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11), then apparently the Antichrist was only one among “many” other nations who lent his support to the holy covenant that manifestly recognized Jewish right of return to the temple mount, (perhaps in some agreement to share the temple mount). This too suggests a divided world, since some nations will be in support of the ill-fated peace, as others who have hated the covenant from the start will join the Antichrist’s secretive plot to overthrow it (Dan 11:23-31).

We know from a number of scriptures that before the fateful invasion of the Antichrist, there has been some kind of peace arrangement that has worked to greatly relax Israel’s guard (Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; Dan 11:23-24). This helps to explain why the invasion will take Israel so suddenly by complete surprise (Isa 28:17-18; 1Thes 5:3). That Jerusalem is not under siege before this time is made clear by Jesus’ reference to Daniel’s mention of the abomination of desolation (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). The demand for urgent flight is in plainest connection with this particular signal event (Mt 24:15-16). This tells us that Israel does not come under final siege until the middle of the week. Before this, the Jews suppose themselves safe and secure in their alliance with the Antichrist, with other nations that are doubtless pledged to protect the peace (Isa 28:15; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; Dan 11:23-24).

All of this goes to show how tremendously secure this peace will seem. It would appear from Isa 28 & Eze 38, in light of the presumption depicted in 1Thes 5:3, that at least the orthodox will perhaps (?) suppose that that the messianic era has dawned, or is soon to dawn. Therefore, what seismic changes must be expected between the present status quo and the kinds of conditions described in scripture? Certainly recent events are moving us along an inexorable trajectory in that direction, but radical changes are required to get us there. We’re getting there, but we’re not there yet!

Obviously, there must be renewed Jewish access to the controversial temple mount in order for there to be a temple that the man of lawlessness can enter, not only to exalt himself above all forms of deity (Dan 11:36-37; 2Thes 2:4), but also to place what appears to be an idol image of himself in the holy place (Dan 11:38-39; Mt 24:15; Rev 13:14). We know too that with a temple, and probably before the temple is finished, there must be the restoration of the ancient sacrifice (Dan 8:11; 9:27; 11:31; 12:11). The continual sacrifice is “stopped” / “taken way” 3 1/2 years before the end (Dan 9:27; 12:7, 11). This is very plain. It is this twin event (namely, the placing of the abomination and removal of the daily sacrifice) that starts the unequaled tribulation (compare Dan 12:1, 7, 11; Mt 24:15-16, 21; Rev 11:2; 12:14; 13:5).

Due to the massive amount of error that is currently circulating, it is important to stress the point that it is Jesus Himself who sends His disciples (and therefore us), to “read and understand” Daniel’s prophecy concerning this decisive event that signals the start of the tribulation (“let the reader understand”). Jesus well knew that when this simple command would be obeyed (as Daniel “set his heart to understand”; Dan 10:12), not only would one discover what follows, but also what precedes this pivotal event that would work to align and put in order all of the most strategic events of the end. In view of what is being taught, it is very critical that we note very carefully that this unequalled tribulation that begins with standing up of Michael in heaven (Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7-14), coupled with the removal of the continual sacrifice and invasion of the temple on earth (Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:7, 11) ends in nothing short of the return of Jesus (Mt 24:15-31) and the resurrection of the righteous (compare especially Dan 12:1-2, 13 with Mt 24:21, 29-31).

To miss the vital interconnection between the abomination, the cessation of the sacrifice, the tribulation, and the resurrection is to run adrift. For example, with only one exception, every misleading interpretation that I’ve encountered invariably disjoins and separates the abomination of desolation from the cessation of the regular sacrifice. Note this connection carefully. It will help you when you encounter any number of highly influential viewpoints that separate the inseparable. No less than the abomination, it is the cessation of the daily sacrifice that starts the final half week of unequaled tribulation. Both aspects of this single event are at an equal distance from the resurrection (Dan 9:27; 12:7, 11).

The sacrifice is stopped at the same time the abomination is placed in the temple. It should be obvious that these are two aspects of a single event that cannot be separated. For many, this will seem obvious, but it may surprise to know that the throughout the vast literature over the centuries, the abomination is seen as one thing (often the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.), and the cessation of the sacrifice another (usually imagining that when Jesus died, the sacrifice became obsolete). But any careful comparison will demonstrate that these two aspects of a single event cannot be separated, and the tribulation that follows this event, though very brief, cannot end with anything short of the resurrection at Jesus’ return (Dan 12:1-2; Mt 24:21, 29-31).

All’s to say, these inextricably conjoined aspects of the single event that starts the unequaled tribulation cannot be exegetically separated without unconscionable violence to the text. But this is precisely what has been done, yet nothing could be more vital for the church’s awareness and preparation against the great deception so urgently stressed and forewarned by Jesus and Paul (Mt 24:4; 2Thes 2:3). The connection is crucial, not only to escape from the great deception but also the means by which those of understanding will be made ready agents of world witness, holding the critical key of interpretation for the final great, unparalleled harvest of souls that will come out of ‘the tribulation, the great one’ (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3, 10; Mt 24:14; Rev 7:9, 12-13; 14:6).

As much as many of us are convinced that the time is very short, we are to hold the church steady by helping our brethren to avoid the false alarms of prophetic speculation. Not only because this has discredited the witness of many, but because of what God has invested in that time when those of understanding will know the time with utmost certainty. It is for this cause, we are to guard with utmost diligence the proper order of events. For many, the time will become very certain at the outset of the last week. For others, this certainty may not come until more nearly the middle of the week when the man of lawlessness is about to be revealed.

Personally, I believe God has been pleased to reveal even more than this. We have made no secret of our conviction that a compelling case can be made from many interrelated scriptures that the two days of Hos 6:2 represent the 2 thousand years since the cross and ascension, as the third day represents the millennium that follows Israel’s national resurrection. As compelling as we believe the case to be, and the greater glory of God in the marvel of such a fully foretold timeline, we too are held in check. Only by confirmation of these necessary preliminary events sometime within the next few years will our confidence be vindicated. Until then, we must remain tentative and restrained. What is NOT tentative, but most certain, is the necessity of a temple and sacrifice before the tribulation can begin.

What great use God will make of such unprecedented certainty seems implied by the great power and anointing that is seen to rest on the godly remnant of the last half of the week (Dan 11:31-35; 12:3; Rev 11:2) and the fruit that comes of it (Dan 11:33; 12:3; Zech 12:10; Ro 11:26-27; Rev 7:9, 13-14). This is why Satan will do all in his power to discredit, confuse, and obfuscate the certainty of the time that will spell his downfall (Rev 12:12), as these things will be seen and known by the saints with utmost certainty at that time. I love to quote G. H. Lang, “The History and Prophecies of Daniel”, pg 140.

“When this agreement shall have been confirmed, the wise will know that the final Seven of years has commenced, that the end days are present, that the consummation of the age has arrived. They will expect the violation of the covenant after three years and a half, and will not be overwhelmed with surprise, having been told beforehand by this prophecy. Then will it be seen in fullness that the knowledge of the prophetic Scripture is simply priceless.”

In the patient waiting (James 5:7-8), reggie

Posted in The Dilemma of the Covenant, The Order of the Return | Comments Off on The Stage is Not Yet Set: Critical Distinctions

Who is the Restrainer in 2 Thessalonians 2?

Reggie’s response to an excellent comment (quoted at the bottom of this article) on the video “The Downfall of the Devil is in the Details of Daniel.

Someone’s been listening in class! 🙂

In the interest of brevity and people’s natural lack of stamina for involved discussions, I would only tweak a couple of points. Read his summary first below my remarks, and then return to my comments here for a few, hopefully helpful caveats and additions.

Others may very reasonably differ, but it is not my view that when Michael casts Satan down to take up full and unimpeded residence in the body of the mortally wounded and risen beast that he is now “confined” or restricted to the body of the Antichrist. As in the Lord’s incarnation, the Father remained omnipresent and ubiquitous, but the fullness of His divine nature was concentrated in all its moral perfection in the body / humanity of Jesus. This mystery of incarnation (1Tim 3:16) was, of course, made possible by the virgin birth, because only in this way was it possible for Jesus to be born perfectly free of the fallen, Adamic nature that all others are born into by natural procreation.

In similar parallel, the fullness of Satan’s moral image will be fully embodied / incarnated in the Antichrist, but as Isaiah said, the Antichrist (typified by the Assyrian) does not know God’s intended use of him (Isa 10:7). In the same way, Satan, symbolized as the dragon, knows his time is short, but the risen beast will doubtless think his time has just begun, that nothing will be withheld from this consummate expression of self exaltation.

Furthermore, just as the incarnation of the son was made possible by his freedom from any taint of the fallen nature by means of the virgin birth, just so, it appears that what Paul sees as necessary for the mystery of lawlessness to be revealed requires the removal, not only of Satan from his hindering position in heaven, but something has been removed from the humanity of the Antichrist at the same time. This is why there must be this marvelous intersection and convergence between the time of Satan’s expulsion that starts the tribulation (Dan 12:1 with Rev 12:7-14) and the death and resurrection of the Antichrist in the healing of the mortal wound, which occasions his ascent up out of the abyss into which he descended at death (Rev 11:7; 13:8), all taking place at the middle of the week.

Whatever it is that preserves even the least residue of what it is that makes us human, apparently, this is what has been removed through the Antichrist’s descent and ascent out of the abyss at the very same time that Satan is being removed by Michael from his hindering place in heaven. This great transition is necessary to reveal what Paul calls, “the mystery of lawlessness” (2Thes 2:7).

As Jesus, the Anointed prince of the host in Dan 8:11; 9:25-26, fulfilled the “mystery of godliness” through circumventing passing the fallen seed of man by the virgin birth, just so, the mystery of lawlessness is revealed in the resurrection and full embodiment of Satan in the Antichrist. This is made possible by the miraculous coincidence of the death and resurrection of the Antichrist with the casting down of Satan. Observe what this implies.

Doubtless, through their understanding and certain knowledge of the time, those of understanding (Dan 11:32-33; 12:3-4, 10) will imitate Daniel. Through deep self abasement and prevailing prayer, they too will receive the help of Michael. That is why all heaven rings out with shouts of Jubilee when Satan is cast down. It is also why, just now, as perhaps never before on such a wide scale, the saints received great power and strength (Dan 11:32; Rev 11:2; 12:10). It just so happens that both Daniel and John put this great anointing precisely at the middle of the week (Dan 11:31-33; Rev 11:2; 12:7-10). This is no accident! With Satan’s expulsion, not only is there woe for the ‘earth-dwellers’ (sensual, destitute of the Spirit), but with an open heaven, free of the Accuser’s influence, great power has come upon the saints for the final test and greatest witness unto death.

No wonder all of heaven rejoices when this great blockage has been once and for all removed from his illicit access to the consciences of believers, as through deep travail the veil gives way to the clearest grasp of the liberty of the gospel and fullest enforcement in heaven of the victory that Jesus won at the cross. With Michael’s greatest victory in the removal of Satan from his position of hindrance, the now awakened sleeping giant that is the true body of Christ will arise, and shake itself like Samson, to accomplish more in its last, remaining hours (in this mortal frame) than anytime since Pentecost. I see a type in Samson that gives me hope for the sleeping wise, some of whom have been sinfully distracted and compromised by the vanities of the world system, but God can use again the son He chastens.

So put the two things together. Christ cannot return and the kingdom cannot come in all its fullness UNTIL this man has first been revealed. This event is the ”WHAT” (Greek neuter) that withholds. What is being withheld? The WHAT, I would submit, is the return of Christ to gather us together (2Thes 2:1). Paul says this cannot happen until the man of lawlessness is revealed FIRST (2Thes 2:3). But for this to take place, there is a mystery that he embodies that also must be revealed. This is the mystery of lawlessness, but for this to be revealed, there is a person who must first be removed.

For the reasons shown, we believe that person to be Satan who must be removed from heaven by Michael in the middle of the week. It is Satan’s removal from his position as the one who hinders (1Thes 2:18) that permits the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness to be revealed in the man of lawlessness. This is fatal to his interest.

It is because the whole age waits for this great event that the saints in heaven and earth rejoice, not simply because the time of greatest tribulation has now started, but because “NOW is come salvation, strength, the kingdom of our God and the power of His Messiah” Now, with Michael’s victory over Satan in heaven, that which stood in the way (hindered) the full coming of the kingdom has been taken out of the way. The kingdom can now come unhindered. The opposer can no longer oppose the necessary revelation of the mystery of lawlessness that releases the Lord to release the remaining seals and finish the mystery of God (Rev 10:7; 11:15). Satan is out of the way! The long foretold tribulation can begin that brings in the kingdom and the sure fulfillment of all that is written.

Of greatest puzzlement to commentators is to decide between the what and the who in 2Thes 2:6-7. There is a what (neuter in the Greek text) that is restraining (or some preferred translations say ‘withholding’) and there is also a person who is restraining or withholding. How do we sort this out? I would suggest that the puzzle is best solved by understanding that the necessary prior revelation of the man of lawlessness is holding back the return of the Lord. This corrects the perilous error circulating at Thessalonica.

When Paul says, “and now you know WHAT withholds” (2Thes 2:6), he is saying that after reviewing with them the order of events he had laid down at his earlier visit, they are now reminded and thus fully apprised of why Jesus cannot be expected to return until this necessary preliminary event has first taken place. This calls to mind the person who is pledged to restrain the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness that will mean his time is short.

Who is the person and what is he restraining? Satan is restraining the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness. Why would he do this? It is because he knows that when this mystery is revealed in the person of the man of lawlessness, his time will be short.

Do not confuse the identification of the Antichrist with his revelation. He will be identifiable well before this, but he cannot be ‘revealed’ until Satan has been removed (cast down) in order to become incarnate in the man of lawlessness. For this mystery to be revealed, Satan must be “taken out of the way”.

We say this happens when he is cast down by Michael. Only then will Satan be forced to take up a full and unhindered habitation in the moral nature of the man of lawlessness, thus empowering him with “ALL power, signs, and deceiving wonders”, (reminiscent of the strong delusion evoked by his resurrection). The world has never seen anything, even remotely like this!

So Jesus cannot return until this happens first. The prior revelation of the man of sin is the event (the what) that is now withholding / i.e., hindering the return of Jesus to gather His own. This corrects the dangerous presumption that Christ’s return is immediately imminent, thus diverting from all that Jesus so carefully commended as a bulwark against deception and to be fully armed for the time when it comes (Mk 13:5, 14, 21-23).

But the withholding event calls to mind the withholding revelation and the unnamed person who is committed to withhold it. That is the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness in the man of lawlessness, and this can only be revealed when Satan is removed. It is Satan (not the Holy Spirit, or Michael) that must be forcibly removed in order to be fully embodied in the now resurrected Antichrist.

This is the strong delusion that causes the whole world to marvel when they see the mortally wounded beast that was, and is not, and yet is (Rev 13:8). The removal of Satan from heaven permits the predestined revelation of the mystery of lawlessness, and this in turn opens the way for the return of the King. It is the great ‘without which not’ of Jesus’ return and the end of the age.

When Satan can no longer retain his place in heaven as the one one who hinders / resists / withholds or holds back, the revelation of the mystery of lawlessness, his time is short. It is now, with his removal, that the kingdom can come in all its full strength and power. Therefore, we say Rev 12:7-12 becomes the key to understand the mystery of the restrainer in 2Thes 2:7.

As the brother so well points out (see below), this is all in perfect parallel to the way that through Daniel’s self emptying intercession, Michael was sent to remove the prince of Persia who was “withstanding” (the Hebrew equivalent of hinder / resist / oppose) the arrival of the holy messenger who carried the critical revelation of how the age will end (Dan 10:13-14). Doubtless, this is the background behind Paul’s understanding of the role of the dark powers to oppose and hinder the advance of the kingdom’s conquest of evil.

Somehow, Satan’s dejection must coincide perfectly with the death and resurrection of the Antichrsit (Rev 11:7; 13:3; 17:8). This is what reveals the mystery of lawlessness, which is nothing short of the revelation of Satan in the “coming prince” of Dan 9:26. It is the fulfillment of THIS mystery (i.e., “mystery of lawlessness”) on which all else depends and awaits, because Jesus CANNOT return to gather together His elect UNTIL this final, outstanding mystery has FIRST been revealed (Mt 24:29-31 with 2Thes 2:1-8).

Since the removal of Satan from heaven to earth must coincide perfectly with the time of the Antichrist’s death and resurrection (obviously, very closely aligned in time), we may ask why is the death and resurrection of the Antichrist necessary in order for Satan to fully inhabit this man? I would suggest that just as Jesus circumvented (by-passed) any hindrance to the full expression of the image of His Father through the virgin birth, something here too of a hindering nature must be removed from the Antichrist in order for him to most fully express the fully exposed image of his father, the Devi (“son of perdition”). What might that be? It would seem to have to be something that was never fully eradicated, even in the most wicked antichrists (plural) of history.

Other than the predestined timing, what is it that stopped these demonically empowered antichrists ‘ beasts (plural) from becoming THE Antichrist / beast? Whatever that is, it has apparently been removed by the mortally wounded Antichrist’s descent into the abyss. Whatever this is (the remnant of the moral image that makes us human?), apparently it is the impediment that is fully removed only by the death of the Antichrist (mortally wounded beast).

By death he descends into the abyss. In resurrection he ascends up from the abyss to become now the full incarnation of Satan in the flesh. This has apparently been made possible by the divinely ordained convergence of the death of this particular man and the expulsion of Satan from heaven at the very time the tribulation is about to begin with his entrance into the temple to present himself to the world as above all other forms of deity (Dan 11:36-37 with 2Thes 2:4).

Finally, one may very reasonably ask why was this left to be such a mystery? Why, if at all important for us to know, did Paul not simply identify the restrainers, both the impersonal what or thing that is being restrained, and the person who is restraining? Firstly, it was not his pastoral purpose to expound on all the details, but simply review and recount what he had told them on his earlier visit in order to correct a serious error. But also, it is in the nature of scripture that many things are revealed in such a way as to require grace and mercy for the Spirit’s help in making the correct connections, and this is especially true of anything that the Lord wanted to be kept till the time of the end.

That said, I believe Paul did indeed most definitely identify what was being withheld. It was the return of the Lord. Let me show why this seems so plain to me.

Translators will translate enesteken in 2Thes 2:2 as “already here”, or “near at hand”, depending on whether they think the Thessalonians would have conceived of the DOL as distinct from the actual return of Jesus, since Jesus had obviously not arrived personally. The error of the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord had either arrived or was very imminently to be expected would be corrected by Paul’s demonstration that the DOL is being held back by the necessity of a specific event, namely, the preliminary revelation of the man of sin.

This, I would argue, is the ‘what’, or the impersonal ‘thing’ that is holding back the return of the Lord. It is an event, one that very necessarily MUST preceded the Lord’s return. What is being withheld (some translate restrained) is the Lord’s return, and the thing or event (impersonal neuter in the Greek text) is the prior revelation of the man of lawlessness exalting himself in the temple of God (2Thes 2:3-4). Simple as that!.

Commentators puzzle and say, “if we only knew what Paul had told them on his first visit, then we would know what they knew”, but we must modestly decline anything more than a rather tentative guess. To me, it seems fantastic that there would be any question of what Paul would have told them on his first visit. He told them exactly what Jesus told His disciples in the Olivet prophecy!

With all urgency, Jesus commands His disciples to read and understand Daniel if they will know the signs and escape the great deception. No wonder Paul opens his correction with words very similar to those by which Jesus begins His discourse, “Take heed that no man deceive you” (Mt 24:4). Paul, moved by the same urgency of warning, will say, “Let no man deceive you by any means …” So a lot at stake here.

The only blank that Paul did not fill in is the identity of the person who restrains. I believe this is because the Holy Spirit did not permit him to make this obvious. I believe it is one of those things reserved till the time of the end that when opened would open so much else. By the Spirit’s kind grace we can put the pieces together and see things reserved for the end, so not to be taken by surprise, or at least have a frame of reference by which to understand the unexpected when it comes. Appropriately, God left it to the Revelation of John to give us the clue that would make perfect sense of the restrainer of 2Thes 2:7, as both build upon the angelology (principalities and powers) of Daniel and Ezekiel that build on Moses and the prophets.

Reggie is of the conviction that Satan is the Restrainer of 2 Thes 2. That might sound counterintuitive to many. This is just my attempt to clarify that position. (I’m not saying this is exactly how Reggie sees it). Some thoughts on the Restrainer of 2 Thes 2. Everything you’ve ever been taught will likely contradict what I’m about to say, it took me 28 years to finally come to see this, now I just can’t unsee it….

2 Thes 2v7… “….Now he who restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way” Some translations say “restrain >him<” or “restrains >it<” or “restrains >evil<” etc. That is only because translators have struggled with this verse. The “it”, “him”, “evil” etc. should not be there. Because of bad translations and what we’ve been taught by sincere teachers who have read bad translations, an assumption is made that it is >evil< that is being restrained. New King James Version… And now you know what is restraining, that he may be revealed in his own time. (Good Translation – No ‘it’ or ‘him’ etc) New American Standard Bible… And you know what restrains >>him<< now, so that he will be revealed in his time. (Bad Translation – here we see the Paradigm shifting “him”) So that added “him” or that added “it” etc, is like points on a railway track really, something tiny but entirely capable of shunting the whole train (of thought) on to a different track. And that’s clearly what it does.

So to summarize, the original text does not state that it’s evil or ant-christ that is being restrained. Thats a false assumption based on bad translations. Moving on… Scripture doesn’t explicitly state either that this mystery “restrainer” is the Holy Spirit, Church or Michael or Rome etc. All these views are of course quite widely held by believers and indicate the manifold confusion that exists surrounding this passage because its >>assumed<< because of bad translations, that it’s evil that’s being restrained. So all we can really take from the text is that there is a mysterious “Restrainer” mentioned. We don’t know what he’s restraining and that he will be removed at some point, and when he is, the Antichrist can come into view. So here goes… In Daniel 10, Daniel prays and he is heard immediately and the Angel is sent forth at once but the fallen demonic powers in the heavenlies resist and restrain the Angel for 21 days until Michael intervenes. In Revelation 12v7-9 we see Michael again, this time casting down Satan and the demonic powers to earth. We are told exactly when this happens i.e. at the 1260 days (final 3 1/2 year) point.

Directly following this expulsion, we see this in the very next verse… 10 THEN I heard a loud voice in heaven say >>NOW<< have come the >>SALVATION<< and the >>POWER<< and the >>KINGDOM OF OUR GOD<< and the >>AUTHORITY OF HIS MESSIAH<< for the accuser of our brothers and sisters, who accuses them before our God day and night, has been hurled down (taken out of the way). So as Satan is removed we see a colossal dam burst in the Heavens. Satan and his angels were holding something back, as they are taken out of the way, the dam bursts! So Satan, the restrainer of God’s Salvation, Power, Kingdom, and Authority in the heavenlies, is now cast out and down from his >restraining place< and hurled down to earth.

As stated, this happens clearly at the 3 1/2 year point. In conjunction with this we see the beast receiving a mortal wound in Rev 13v3 but coming back to life again and the whole world marvelling at this. He then sets off on his 42 month (3 1/2 year) reign of terror. So as Satan is cast down by Michael exactly at the 3 1/2 year point this dovetails in perfect concert with the beast (human) dying from a mortal wound then coming back to life.

I think it’s plain Satan is now permitted, or perhaps even forced, to take up residence in this man’s body. So what we now see is the full incarnation of Satan in bodily form. We saw “The Mystery of Godliness” in the incarnation of God in bodily form in the person of Jesus. Now we see “The Mystery of Iniquity”, the full incarnation of Satan, in bodily form.

Astonishingly, there is divine symmetry here. Both “mysteries” commence their “ministry” in a death and resurrection (Jesus baptism by John), both have exactly 3 1/2 years. The Genesis prophetic opener of “the seed of the woman” and “the seed of the serpent” has now fully come into view. Keep in mind also Michael appears in Jude where he contends with Satan over Moses’ body. Why would Satan want access to Moses’ body? As Derek Prince states demons are personalities without a body. Speculating, but did he want to incarnate Moses body to then decieve the Israelites? God did not permit it then, but does He permit it, even orchestrate it, at the 3 1/2 year point? So “the lawless one will be revealed”. I.e. Satan is forced down and out of the heavenly sphere to take up residence in a man’s dead body. He’s now exposed and confined into a human body and is FURIOUS >>knowing<< his time is short. So for me this raises a fundamental question. The presupposition amongst much of what calls itself church in relation to 2 Thes 2 is that Satan >>wants<< to take the stage, that he >>wants<< to take over, that “good” in the form of the Holy Spirit OR the Church OR Rome OR Michael is restraining him. So Does Satan >>really<< want this to happen? Mathew 8v29… “What do you want with us, Son of God?” they shouted. “Have you come here to >>torture<< us before the >>appointed time<>knowing his time is short<<, knowing only eternal torture and torment awaits him.

I see it like the mafia in a city where the forces of law and order are finally and relentlessly closing in. They were happy to be incognito and pulling the strings in the dark but now they know their time is soon up and they are being forced out into the open and to pending and ultimate justice. Or like a desperate death row prisoner who knows his time of execution is fast approaching. In both these instances it’s the last thing they want and a truly desperate fight will ensue. And so we have the end times. A desperate and dark kingdom is coming to be exposed and ultimately judged and it well knows it. Like a cornered pack of rabid hyenas the final expulsion will be vicious and brutal.

In closing. If the mystery restrainer is not Satan then who is it? From whatever angle I now look at this from nothing fits better or makes more sense. I just can’t “unsee” it. Obviously the pre-trib camp uses this passage to bolster their early rapture view but it’s a doctrine based entirely on inference (that’s another story). In closing, Scripture makes plain this displacement, this ‘taking out of the way’ event happens at the 3 1/2 year point so a completely “Open Heaven” is there now for the Saints, the restraining demonic forces are removed and unprecedented Power, Salvation and Authority is now made available. It will truly be the Church’s finest hour. Revelation 7 tells us of a harvest of souls from every tribe and nation, a number so vast it cannot be counted will come out of the “Great Tribulation”.

God surely keeps the best wine till last and I believe this “Restrainer” being “taken out of the way” is the key to all this. So considering now the same verse… 2 Thes 2v7… ….Now he (Satan) who restrains (God’s Power, Salvation, Kingdom and Authority in the heavenlies) will do so >>until<< he is taken (literally forced) out of the way (by Michael in the midst of the final week). As clearly detailed in Revelation 12! So instead of “Good restraining the Evil”, it’s in effect “Evil restraining the Good” until Michael casts the evil restrainer down and out at the final 3 1/2 years point and we see an unprecedented release of God’s Spirit and Power and the greatest ingathering of souls imaginable. So this truly turns everything on its head. As I said at the offset, this view will likely blow all your fuses; it did mine. It’s easy to dismiss as it goes against the grain at night on all that’s been taught on it in this hour. I just humbly ask you to prayerfully consider it.

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The Mystery of the Kingdom (& John the Baptist)

“I do not have a clear understanding of this text and was curious of your understanding of it. I was asked by a young believer and have read many comments on this but nothing I read set right with me. I pray all is well. Love and God bless”

11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Matthew 11:11

When rightly understood, this puzzling passage, elusive and so little agreed upon by commentators, literally explodes with unimaginable, incomprehensible glory. It is, as they say, “too good to be true!” To grasp its implications is to weep and rejoice at the magnitude of the promise of the kingdom, a promise and reality that doesn’t wait till a future day of the Lord, but stands presently accessible and available to all who enter the kingdom of heaven, as much at the time Jesus spoke these words as it does today.

Utterly outside the conceptual universe of His contemporaries, Jesus gives hint here of what will be much more fully unveiled and expounded by the rabbi from Tarsus. I am speaking of the revelation of the righteousness of God that is unveiled in one place only, i.e., the gospel.

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. Romans 1:16-17

If Jesus is the Messiah, this means He is the curse reversing seed of the woman that was promised from the beginning. As part of His mission to reveal the “mystery of the kingdom”, (a much broader concept than conceived by His contemporaries) Jesus is making allusion here to the imputation of the fullness of His own personal righteousness to each and every believer, not only as to justification but as to the hope of glory.

Jesus brings this out in an enigmatic, but nonetheless ultimately revealing way that would only be fully understood for the full glory of its implications in retrospect. In short, Jesus is laying the groundwork for Paul and the fuller revelation of the “mystery of the gospel” that would not come to fullest light until after the Spirit’s mighty descent at Pentecost. (Ro 16:25-26; Eph 6:18; 1Pet 1:12)

To fully grasp the unexpected magnitude of glory implicit in Jesus’ words, it is important to establish what He surely did not mean. He did NOT mean that John was not yet in the kingdom. He also did not mean that the kingdom was something that remained to be established in the future that John was not yet a part of. No, the kingdom was here ‘already’, present, active, and available for entrance, as many were already entering, as others were being hindered in their efforts to enter.

20 But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you. Luke 11:20

12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. Matthew 11:12

16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. Luke 16:16

52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. Luke 11:52

Clearly then, we are not to suppose that John somehow stood outside the kingdom while others were entering, and others opposing entrance. Nor are we to suppose that the kingdom, as Jesus understood it, lay only up ahead in the future. The kingdom is present and powerful in its working, albeit in a presently hidden form, recognized only by revelation, thus the ‘revelation’ of the “mystery of the kingdom.”

It is not completely correct to say that kingdom had only now arrived, although the King had arrived. It is better to understand that the kingdom has always been present (Ps 145:13; Dan 4:3, 34, et al) but is now ‘on the move’ in a decisive and ultimately determinative way that was not in keeping with the contemporary expectation, since the mystery of Messiah’s two comings being not yet known nor even conceived of before Pentecost. (Mt 11:3; 16:22; Acts 1:6; 1Pet 1:11-12)

No, Jesus was not saying that John had not entered the kingdom while others clearly were entering it at that very time. Rather, He is hinting at, and laying the conceptual groundwork for the most glorious revelation that lay completely outside any human ability to conceive or comprehend. He does this by taking their high regard for John as prophet and forerunner of the King and His kingdom, and pushing the popular conception of him beyond any conceivable limit.

Jesus does this to stress the inconceivable point that is calculated to burst into unimaginable glory. Something far beyond the highest spiritual example will be the common inheritance of even the very least who prevail to enter the then present and active kingdom of heaven. The very least citizen of that kingdom will possess the very righteousness of the King, the divine Son of God, as no lesser righteousness than His can be accepted in that place. (Mt 22:11-13)

Precisely because his greatness as a prophet was undoubted by the people, Jesus raises the bar far beyond their highest notions of John or of anything they could have identified or associated with John in terms of spiritual stature and status in the long expected kingdom. It must have shocked even John’s greatest admirers to hear Jesus say that of all born to woman, a greater than John has never existed. Now take that in. What is Jesus doing here?

He is preparing His hearers (and us) for the most astounding revelation that will eclipse anything ever conceived by even the most spiritual of His saints in ages past. And what is that? It is as we’ve said, the incomprehensible revelation of glory that the very righteousness wrought out in the spotless obedience of the Servant Messiah, the curse reversing seed of the woman, has been transferred (imputed credited accounted), not in the part but in the whole, to the least born again believer in Jesus.

They do not stand in their own righteousness, as neither did John, but in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne. This is seismic! It is beyond our grasp apart from the quickening illumination of the Holy Spirit, but to grasp it is to know a joy unspeakable that is full of glory.

Jesus is taking the highest contemporary standard of holiness and righteousness and raising that conception to an inconceivable new height precisely in order to make the greatest possible impression of what would be the common experience and possession of every believer entering this ever present kingdom by new birth.

We just don’t get it! Because if we did, I submit that the very earth would shake before us. Do we even begin to see what this means?! We have a righteousness that far exceeds our highest association, not only with a John Baptist, but an Abraham, a Moses, an Elijah! Why? Because a greater is here, and the very least of us are invested with His righteousness (there is no other acceptable), and are made perfectly complete in Him, as He alone is complete in Himself.

Woe to those poor theologians of Trent who called this glorious Jesus, Pauline, Reformed doctrine a “legal fiction”. If it is not a “legal fiction” that the spotless Lamb of God could be counted as sin for my sake, how is it a “legal fiction” if I, a poor sinner without strength, should be made (both counted and indwelt) righteous by His righteousness for His sake?

And let us be clear, as Paul was clear, as the Holy Spirit was clear when Jesus says to John, “permit it to be so now, for it is necessary for us to fulfill all righteousness”. This means that it is not simply God’s righteousness in His heaven above, but that particular righteousness that was perfected in our Lord’s spotless humanity over approximately 33 ½ years of testing, fulfilling all that was commanded in the law, both as to its letter and the spirit of its intention (Gal 4:4). It is THAT righteousness (“the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”; Isa 45:25; 54:17; Jer 23:5-6) that was performed and fulfilled in the representative humanity of Jesus.

It is His righteousness that is imputed, not in the part but in the whole, to the least justified believer, even now translated out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of His dear Son (Col 1:13). That’s where we are, seated far above all principality and power, robed right now and forever in the righteousness of another that Satan cannot touch (1Jn 3:6; 5:4, 18). THAT, my beloved friend, is the gospe!l, and woe to those who add to it or take from it, since to add even the least smattering of leaven is to pollute and spoil the whole, sterilizing it of its saving power. To grasp this in all its glorious implication is truest freedom and power for every good work.

Oh Lord, let us not come short or be diverted from this quickening, invariably transforming, fruit bearing revelation of the Spirit. Break in upon us, as you broke into them and show us that the Accuser has no rights against our conscience so far as we stand in nothing of our own righteousness but in His alone.

1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. Romans 8:1

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Colossians 1:27

Posted in The Kingdom, The Mystery of the Gospel | Comments Off on The Mystery of the Kingdom (& John the Baptist)

The First Resurrection

What would you say is the cost of making the first resurrection either the new birth or something else?

Contrasted with the first resurrection coming at the end of the last persecution with the destruction of the final beast, the obvious answer is the necessary details of all that. But is there something more that is lost? It sure feels like it.

Lost is all that God has invested in the demonstration that Israel was first set apart to demonstrate and vindicate “through their fall” and national resurrection by a sovereign act of discriminating grace (Eze 36:22, 32). Lost is all the meaning of God’s own affliction and sacrifice in their temporary surrendering over to blindness and dispersion “for our sake”. (Ro 11:11-12, 28). Lost too is all that God has invested in the crisis events of the end that signal and lead up to that great transition of greatest consequence to millions.

Lost is the purpose of 1000 years of open demonstration and vindication of the ‘everlasting covenant’, as every Jew who revered the scripture understood it before the cross, and as the apostles of the Lamb manifestly understood it after the cross.

In all references to the forward looking “everlasting / new covenant” the expectation is clear, that AFTER a final tribulation of unequaled severity, the penitent survivors of Israel would be born to new national life in one day (Ps 102:13; 110:3; Isa 66:8; Zech 3:9) through the spiritual regeneration of the new / everlasting covenant. That “from that day and forward”, not SOME but “ALL” would know the Lord from the least to the greatest (Isa 4:3; 45:17, 60:21; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 39:22, 28-29), and this blessed preservation would extend without exception unto children’s children, “world without end” (Isa 44:3; 59:21; 61:9; 65:24; 66:22; Eze 37:25).

From this time and forward, all of Israel would lie down in safety, none making them afraid, or menacing their peace again forever (). This is because that at the end of the final week (Daniel’s 70th week), the surviving remnant of Israel, having come now to faith by the Spirit’s revelation of Jesus to their hearts, will enter into the “everlasting righteousness” that was secured when reconciliation was made for sin at the end of the 69th week (Dan 9:24-26).

It is not enough that Jews and gentiles be saved on equal footing by faith in Jesus’ once and for all sacrifice. For the promises of the covenant to have their complete and plenary fulfillment, it is necessary for two crucial events to be accomplished, 1.), the finishing of the mystery of iniquity by the finishing of the mystery of God at Jesus’ seventh trumpet return (2Thes 2:3-8; Rev 10:7; 11:15), and 2.), the salvation of “all Israel” that ends Israel’s temporary and partial blindness at the end of the times of the gentiles” (Mt 23:39; Ro 11:25-29; Lk 21:24).

God has joyously placed Himself under sworn obligation to His covenant oath that the hopelessly intractable nation that He first brought out of Egypt, He is able to bring into the specific Land of specific promise, and not only bring them in, but keep them there in abiding, unbroken peace, because of the everlasting righteousness that is not their own. That through His work with them, He might show on the public stage of history one of the greatest, open and visible demonstrations of the glory of sovereign, electing grace.

It is for this very cause (“in order that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls”) that He first chose Jacob on a basis utterly apart from any inherent quality in himself, and for this purpose, to make this very point, He has miraculously preserved their public visibility throughout all the centuries. That the people He first set His love upon, and for nothing that can be credited to them (Eze 36:22, 32), He has invested this open demonstration and vindication of HIs glory on the question of whether He is able to graft in again, and thus fulfill the everlasting covenant in all its parts and aspects, literally and tangibly on this earth, the opposition of history and all the demons of hell notwithstanding.

It is our appreciation of this, and our fellowship with Him in this great burden of the prophets that is at stake. We need to get beyond what any given truth of scripture will ‘do for us’, and enter into the fellowship of what this means to Him. He desires that we “come and see”, feast and fellowship in the mysteries of His manifold wisdom that He delights to reveal to His friends, even the hidden wisdom ordained to our glory.

He desires that we know what this great demonstration and vindication means to Him as His answer, not only to His people and the nations, but to the gainsaying principalities and powers that have so long ruled this present age, always raising that original, but no less perennial question, “has God really said?” For this great event of divine satisfaction, we are commanded to give Him no rest “till He stablish and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth”, against all odds!

Finally, there is the question of hermeneutics, which can have the end effect of raising the same question, “has God really said?” Going beyond the fully agreed and acknowledged use of metaphor, figurative language, poetic, symbolic and apocalyptic conventions of speech found all throughout the Bible, has anyone ever paused to document the sheer volume of scripture, not of figurative but plain words of plainest meaning, that would have to be spiritualized and divested of their natural sense, in order to sustain the non-millennial interpretations that see nothing on this present earth after the post-tribulational day of the Lord? I realize that’s a long sentence, but read that again.

It would be a worthwhile exercise just to go through and document the massive amount of scripture that describes conditions on this earth after the great day of the Lord, but that fall clearly short of the final perfection. Plain language could never be thus handled by anyone who believes the scripture infallible and without error unless deferring to powerful presuppositions as to what these scriptures ‘cannot’ mean.

Many have noticed how little agreement exists among amillennialists over what is meant by “the first resurrection”. There is only agreement on what it cannot mean. This can only be attributed to strong presuppositions that precede and influence exegesis, in this case, the plain person’s plain reading of plain language.

Even if we had never heard of the duration of the millennium from John’s Revelation, any plain reading of the OT would have led to the necessary inference of glorious but yet imperfect conditions on this earth between the post-tribulational DOL and the perfection of new heavens and new earth. We know that such views existed in the intertestamental period and among Jews during the post-Christian centuries.

Nothing in the NT contradicts but only re-affirms that fundamental expectation of events on this earth, only now in the full light of the revelation of the mystery of two comings of Messiah. And finally, have our amillennial brethren ever been to the future day of the Lord to confirm and report back that Israel will surely NOT be gathered?

The time for that event was always described as happening at one time only, i.e., the post-tribulational day of the Lord. On what ground can they certify to us that this will not happen right on schedule, when the prophets said it would? And what do they do with the modern state of Israel? Is it an accident of history? To those who have this hope, the trajectory of history seems firmly right on course.

Looks like we’re in for stormy weather, and it threatens to be a lot stormier if we do not have an anchor in what these events mean and where they’re designed to take the church and Israel in these ultimately transitional, closing days, particularly when they are staring us right in the face.


Posted in Church Doctrine, The Day of the Lord, The Resurrection | Comments Off on The First Resurrection

The Downfall of the Devil is in the Details of Daniel [VIDEO]

Posted in Anti-Christ, Daniel, Jacob's Trouble, Revelation, The Two Witnesses, Video | Comments Off on The Downfall of the Devil is in the Details of Daniel [VIDEO]

Netanyahu’s Whirlwind Visit – A Sign of Urgency

We may be sure that at least part of the motivation behind this whirlwind visit is the mutual threat of an increasingly empowered Iran, particularly in view of Biden’s anticipated commitment to resurrect the Iran nuclear deal. Mutual interests, not only of opportunity but of urgency, are creating new bonds between historic enemies, right on time!

Prophecy is clear that a disarming illusion of lasting security must come to the region before the outbreak of the final, unequaled tribulation (Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; Dan 8:25; 9:27; 11:21, 23-24; 1Thes 5:3). Recognizing this, many are watching the historic “Abraham Accords” with due attention.

Until very recently, nothing could have seemed more improbable. This has never happened before in history, but it is right in line with what prophecy leads us to expect.

We know that the Antichrist (AC) will exploit this new state of affairs till he sees his advantage (Dan 11:23, 31). Toward the middle of the week, he will secretly, behind the scenes, form a counter alliance that will, without warning, strike Israel with irresistible, overwhelming force.

Those who know the scripture will see this developing in advance. They will recognize the imperatives of prophecy that must precede the AC’s invasion of Israel. As some will most certainly “see” the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet, this means there must first be a restoration of the “daily sacrifice”, which demands a new temple (Isa 63:18; Dan 9:27; 11:31; 12:11; Mt 24:15-16; 2Thes 2:4; Rev 11:2).

Since this development can hardly be missed, believers in the literal fulfillment of prophecy will have a precious advantage to see the approach of this ultimately transitional event, as well as the march of events that lead up to it, as seen in Isa 28:15, 18; Eze 38:8, 11, 14; 39:26; Dan 9:27; 11:21-31; 1Thes 5:3).

As these signal developments progress, watchful believers who “understand” the times and the meaning of these events will know to prepare for the great transition that will come when the Antichrist will make the normal means of buying and selling an impossibility for believers (Rev 13:16-17).

It is sobering to contemplate what this will mean for professing Christians caught completely off guard. To be caught off guard and thus exposed to the unparalleled deception of “those days” will owe in no small part to professing believers’ neglect to follow Jesus’ express command to read and “understand” Daniel’s prophecy concerning this particular event (Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:4-5).

And, where care has been taken to study Daniel’s prophecy in light of Jesus’ Olivet prophecy, and Paul’s reference to the man of sin (compare Dan 11:31-37 with Mt 24:15; 2Thes 2:3-4), a survey of the history of interpretation will confirm that no other topic of prophecy has engendered greater disagreement among scholars, and hence greater confusion and ignorance among pastors and their congregations.

Jesus well knew that an accurate knowledge of this event would reveal, not only what follows from it, but a notable sequence of foretold details that must lead up to it (Dan 11:23-31). Knowledge of these necessarily preceding conditions and events will prove a critical, God-ordained blessing of advance warning to those who have followed Jesus’ decisive command in Mt 24:15, “whoever reads (the readers of Daniel’s prophecy of this particular event), let them understand.”

A comparison of Eze 38:12-13; Isa 19:1-25; Joel 2:1-3; and Dan 11:41-43 will strongly indicate that some of the moderate Islamic nations of the Arabian peninsula (e.g., ancient Sheba and Dedan – Eze 38:13) will express fearful foreboding at the Antichrist’s invasion of Israel. Shortly after this, Egypt will also be overrun and profoundly savaged.

It is not unreasonable to infer that such rage and fury will be due to Egypt’s friendly relationship with Israel. This will doubtless be viewed by the northern Islamic nations, who are hostile to the peace, as an act of betrayal, portending that Egypt’s fate may also be the fate of other nations near and far who have supported the peace with Israel. So, the strategic gap between north and south appears to be widening, exactly as anticipated in prophecy.

It is more than incidental that the very alignment depicted in prophecy has come so lately and swiftly into place. Until very recently, nothing could have seemed less probable. Consider how Egypt has flipped from the rabidly hostile Morsi government to the much more friendly government of al-Sisi, ‘from foe to friend’ overnight. Who knew?

Then there is the once-friendly Turkey (Eze 38: 2-6) that has gone ‘from friend to foe’ under Erdogan, also almost overnight. And now, the Gulf States are softening in their onetime non-negotiable disavowal of Israel’s right to exist, endorsing a new policy of “normalization” in the new “Abraham Accords”.

Of course, to natural eyes, these remarkable trends can always be explained by natural causes. But to the eyes of faith that see through the prism of prophecy, many of the outstanding pieces of the prophetic puzzle that once seemed so remote are falling into place at a remarkable pace.

That these things should follow upon one another in such a close succession further suggests the realistic possibility of the fulfillment of a view that has been held by many over the centuries. This is the well-known, well-documented view that the return of Jesus would introduce the 7th millennium of sabbatical completion, ending the 6 millennia given to human government.

This is not a recent view but has been maintained by a significant number over the centuries. Some, even within the early part of the last century have interpreted the “two days” of Hos 6:2 as answering to the two millennia that should elapse between Israel’s fall and Jesus’ return (Isa 8:14; 28:16; Ro 9:33; 11:11-12; 1Pet 2:8; Ps 110:1; Mt 23:39: 24:30; Zech 12:10; Acts 3:18-21; Ro 11:26; Rev 1:7), with the third day answering to the millennium that follows upon Israel’s long awaited national resurrection (Isa 25:7-8; 26:19; Hos 13:14; Eze 37; Dan 12:1-2).

There are many other compelling arguments from scripture that further support this interpretation of a long parenthesis of “many generations” between the two comings (Isa 61:4; Eze 38:8; Hos 5:15-6:2; Mic 5:1-4; Mt 23:39).

Not only was Israel to become a “nation” again after “many generations” of exilic desolation (Isa 61:4; Dan 12:1), “always a continual waste” (Eze 38:8), but upon their return, the once desolate wastelands would become a coveted prize of wealth and prosperity (Eze 38:11-13; Dan 11:24; Joel 2:2).

It is remarkable to observe that just before the Antichrist’s invasion that precipitates the day of the Lord (Joel 2:1-3; 3:1-2, 9-17), the prophet Joel compares the Land to Eden for its beauty (Joel 2:3). With the invading forces of the Antichrist (the “northern army” compared to a devouring plague of locusts, Joel 1:4; 2:20, 25), the verdant Land of Edenic beauty is turned suddenly into “a desolate wilderness” (Joel 2:2-3). This agrees perfectly with Eze 38:11-13; Dan 11:24, etc.

Whether this view of a prophetic terminus corresponding to Hosea’s prophecy of the “three days” will be confirmed remains to be seen. Of course, longstanding political mountains would have to move almost overnight, but the recent events that have fallen so providentially into place certainly merit our closest attention, as we earnestly pray “Thy kingdom come”; “Come soon, Lord Jesus!”

Consider this brief summary of relatively recent significant developments:

–> the return to the Land in 1948

–> the recovery of Jerusalem as the Jewish capital in 1967

–> the very recent alignment of the nations in perfect accord with prophecy

–> the amazing beautification of the Land

–> the burgeoning prosperity of Israel and the region

–> the peace initiatives that promise the kind of “tranquility” in the region that will pave the way for the opportunism of the AC (Dan 8:25; 11:23-24)

–> the preparations and loud demands for equal access to the Temple Mount

–> the rise of anti-Zionist Islam, obsessed with the apocalyptic vision of recapturing Jerusalem and possessing the Land, in fulfillment of what the prophets call the “ancient/ everlasting hatred” (Ps 83; Isa 34:4-8; 63:1-4; Eze 25:15; 35:5; 36:5; Obad; Mal 1:4)

–> the extreme and swift departure from the apostolic faith in the professing church

–> the ominous resurgence of world antisemitism.

All of this, and so much more, cries out for sober preparation and urgency.

In a way distinct from any other time in history, with many more essential details now in place that were conspicuously absent at the Roman destruction of the second temple in 70 A.D., the days of ultimate, all-inclusive fulfillment are fast upon us. An alignment now exists of nations and circumstances essential to the fulfillment of the last very interdependent cluster of events that prepare the way for Jesus’s return.

We may prefer to err on the side of caution, but who will not at least agree that it is hard to conceive it mere happenstance that all of this should seem to be coming into such swift alignment so near to the closing of the second millennium since Israel’s fall and Jesus’s ascension?

Can it be too lightly dismissed that by Hosea’s “three days” prophecy, God has indeed foretold the time between the advents? Many over the years have thought so. The case fully made – and heard – is quite compelling. In fact, few have really heard it. Many will yet say, “What difference does it make?”, and “Doesn’t this imply the forbidden setting of a date?”, and many other popular non-sequiturs that throw cold water.

One thing is certain: Had the Lord foretold the time of His return in a less “cryptic” way, the world would have more easily anticipated it. It would not have been thief-like (1Thes 5:3; 2 Pet 3:10; Rev 16:15,  in light of Dan 12:10). But the very confusion and disagreement in the church over all things eschatological may well prove that God indeed has foretold us all things, including the duration of the mysterious interim, albeit in a way so as to remain sealed until the time of the end (Dan. 12:4, 9).

Posted in The Last Days, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Netanyahu’s Whirlwind Visit – A Sign of Urgency

Who Is the True Jew?

I fully agree that in Ro 2:26-29 Paul is putting the uncircumcised gentile who “keeps the righteousness of the law” (obviously regenerate) on an equal footing with a ‘true Jew’. A true Jew is a regenerate Jew. As in other debated passages of this kind, Paul is not necessarily redefining Israel or Jews, since he clearly maintains that obvious distinction elsewhere. Rather, in what might appear to be a new re-definition, many hold that Paul intends nothing more here than his usual insistence that those who are Jews in name only are not to be reckoned as heirs unless they are also regenerated (the inward circumcision of the heart).

This is exactly the distinction Paul is making in such texts as Ro 4:14; 9:6. But since Paul so clearly identifies believing gentiles as “Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise” (Ro 8:17; Gal 3:29), some (I think not unreasonably), argue that Paul is indeed redefining the term, “Jew” in this context to include anyone who has the inward circumcision of the heart. I am one premillennialist who has no problem with that view, since, in my opinion, it is not crucial to the larger question. So who is a Jew?

Even if it is maintained that Paul is disqualifying the Jew who is only one outwardly from deserving of the name, and even if it could be certainly established that Paul is re-defining the term in this particular context to mean anyone who has the “inward circumcision of the heart, in the Spirit”, still, there are many contexts that will bear no such redefinition. Context determines usage.

Unlike many premillennialists who, because of abuse and misuse, are keen to avoid any reading that might lend support to so-called replacement theology, I am one among many premillennialists who believe that if gentiles can be reckoned as the true circumcision (Phil 3:3) and other such appellations once applied only to Jews (Ro 9:25; 1Pet 2:9-10), then it is no leap of faith for Paul to include regenerate gentiles among the true “Israel of God” (Ro 11:17; Gal 6:16; Eph 2:19). Whether anyone’s strong position will incline them to agree, it is only humility to see how easily these inferences can be made. For example, when we place Phil 3:3 side by side with Ro 2:29, it is difficult not to see the manifest parallel.

Phil 3:3: For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the Spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.

Ro 2:29: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God. Romans 2:29

If Paul can speak of an “Israel according to the flesh” (1 Cor 10:18), it becomes an almost necessary inference to understand that there must be an ‘Israel according to the Spirit’. While it may be reasonably argued that in some contexts Paul has included gentiles in his definition of what constitutes the true Israel of God, this bears nothing on the many other contexts in both testaments where a large remnant of Jews (unbelieving until that time), are yet predestined for future salvation on the basis of an abiding, irrevocable covenant election that remains outstanding and unfulfilled until “their fullness” (their full inclusion; Ro 11:11, 25-29). Will you concede that much?

I am not among those who believe that believing gentiles belong to some new, separate entity. It is rather the case that believing gentiles are “grafted in among them” (Ro 11:17), that is, into the “commonwealth of Israel”, which, in my view, is the living “Israel of God” (Ro 9:6; Gal 6:16). The living, and therefore persevering wild branches are one eternal body with the living Jewish branches that remain connected to the life-giving root of the good olive tree. So I’m miles from the usual dispensational position.

I see a continuity of one corporate, fully regenerate people of God, not only since Pentecost, but wherever saints (the remnant circumcised of heart) were ‘indwelt’ by “the Spirit of Christ” (2Cor 13:5; 1Pet 1:11). There is one fold and one Shepherd. This newly revealed (not newly existing!) “body of Christ” / “one new man” extends beyond the present age into, and all throughout, a yet future millennium.

Unlike dispensationalism’s two peoples of God, in our view, the penitent survivors of Israel will be no less the body of Christ on earth in the coming millennium, ‘brothers of the others’, albeit with a unique millennial stewardship for the sake of the covenant demonstration that God has reserved for that unique period. This poses no conflict with the one new man anymore than the abiding distinction of male and female, both in creation and the governance of the body of Christ, raises any question of disadvantage or inferiority. It is a question of stewardship and not of any presumed spiritual advantage or superiority.

After the body of Christ has been revealed (not newly existing, but newly revealed), the one new man (the regenerated man of the Spirit) exists without distinction or superiority in one place only, “in Christ”! Notwithstanding, the scripture itself recognizes an abiding distinction between Jew and gentile in the creation, just as there remains a distinction in the role of male and female in the natural order. This distinction is preserved, actually quite miraculously, across the ages for a very important purpose. That purpose is to publicly vindicate in open display God’s abiding, covenanted commitment to the “natural branches” “For this is My covenant with THEM when I shall take away THEIR sin ….”

Their covenanted election, and the sovereign power manifested in their corporate salvation will be put beyond all question for a thousand years of open display, as God makes of this people the great object lesson of history. In the salvation of ‘all Israel’ (in the sense that Paul intends that phrase), God is vindicating openly and publicly in the sight of all nations His very purpose in first setting Jacob apart before birth or before behaviour. This was “in order that the purpose of God might stand, not of works but of Him who calls” (Ro 9:11, 16). There it is! God has preserved the visibility and abiding distinction of the Jewish race for this one primary purpose. That purpose is to show in them His ability to bring in, finally and forever, the very people He first brought out (Num 14:11-21).

This He will do by bringing them to the end of their power in the final time of unequaled trouble (Deut 32:36; Dan 12:1, 7), and to the place of regeneration by faith, thus securing their ability to remain safely and permanently in the Land without further threat of the curses of the broken covenant. Only by an ‘everlasting righteousness’ (Dan 9:24; Jer 32:40), that is NOT their own (Isa 45:25; 54:17; Jer 23:5-6), extending not only to a remnant, but to ‘all Israel’ (regenerate Israel) “unto children’s children” (Deut 30:6; Isa 59:21; 65:23; Eze 37:25). Only then can Israel keep their covenanted Land forever in abiding safety and peace. Only by such an eternally secure righteousness can the abiding threat of covenant jeopardy be overcome forever. The thousand years is set apart to mark and make much of this open spectacle of covenant fulfillment.

Only a righteousness that is forever can possess the Land forever. This is the point that God is determined to press upon the nations in an open, visible, undeniable display of sovereign, electing grace and power that will continue unabated for one thousand years before concluding His purpose for this earth in the final perfection of new heavens and new earth. He has a point to make through the Jewish people that is dear to His heart. It is a point that is directed against all forms of pride and self righteousness. How? “They will look upon Him whom they pierced (Zech 12:10; Mt 23:39; Rev 1:7). When?  “From that day and forward” (Eze 39:8, 22, 28-29), “they will all know Me from the least of them to the greatest” (Jer 31:34).

Not only will the penitent survivors of the last tribulation all know Him “from that day and forward”, but this uniformity of salvation will continue “unto children’s children, without fail or exception throughout all their succeeding generations. Sound fantastic, unheard of, inconceivable? Read it there in the scriptures (Isa 4:3-4; 45:17, 25; 54:13; 59:21; 60:21; 61:9; 65:23; 66:22; Jer 31:34; 32:40; Eze 20:40; 37:25; Zeph 3:13, et al).

This is what Paul means when he says, “and so then (when the Deliverer comes to turn away ungodliness from Jacob), ALL Israel shall be saved.” Then will an all-holy nation of penitent survivors be “born in one day” (Isa 66:8; Eze 39:22; Dan 12:1-2; Isa 59:20-21; Zech 3:9; 12:10). Now begins the millennial demonstration of the everlasting covenant that still stands irrevocably with THEM (i.e., the “natural branches”; Ro 11:25-29), thus fulfilling a vast host of OT promises connected to an inviolable, eternal covenant promise that must be fulfilled on this earth with this people (Daniel’s people) in particular (Dan 2:44; 12:1).

This great revelatory seeing of Jesus (not by mere sight, of course, but by the Spirit of revelation, as with Paul on the Damascus road) will secure for the surviving remnant of Israel the everlasting righteousness of the everlasting covenant that is now, according to the revelation of the mystery, available to every penitent believer in the resurrected Jesus. Yet, this revelation must at length break upon the understanding of a final remnant from among the natural branches. This is in order to fulfill all that God promised to that nation in particular. This takes place at no sooner time than the return of Jesus to raise the dead (Dan 12:1-2; Mt 24:29-31). This is the “set time” that He has chosen to “favor Zion” (Ps 102:13). It is the time that His people will have been made “willing in the day of His power” (Ps 110:3).

You are right about some things that dispensationalists are wrong about, but I believe you need to much more carefully consider whether you may be wrong about some things futurists (not necessarily pre-trib dispensationalists), may be right about. It’s the old tendency towards “guilt by association” that tends to toss out the baby (at least parts of the baby) with the proverbial bath water.  It is no wonder that Paul calls this a “mystery” (Ro 11:25), as it will invariably elude prideful self reliance. They will never see rightly who do not approach the revealed mysteries of God with genuine fear and trembling. I’m sure you agree.

Speaking of my intelligence, it may interest you to know that the last grade I finished was the 9th. I can’t imagine charging you, or any other earnest believer honestly seeking the harmony of scripture, with “tickling their intellectual fancies”. 🙂

Cordially yours in His great name,

Reggie Kelly

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