Our God, the great gift giver, has very recently given me something for which I’ve prayed since a very young man. It’s a way to set forth, in the most amazing simplicity and clarity, an easy grid and framework for the all the multifaceted parts and aspects of the mystery of Israel and the church. You and I already share the basic outline and substance of these things richly and mutually; that is true. But, as servants of the Lord, we long for greater utterance, clarity, and simplicity.
I want to share this with you. It needs to be in the hands of the saints everywhere, and the sooner the better. This is not mere human excitement; it is the burden of the Lord. This breakthrough has come because of the love and prayers of many that “utterance would be given me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph 6:19).
After a time of discouragement, God has quickened new life and hope in my heart with zeal to share this powerful evangelistic tool, which proves the infallible inspiration of Scripture at the same time it puts on display the glory and wisdom of God’s eternal purpose in history and prophecy. As this “vision” (i.e., the mystery of the gospel in relation to the end time events) is “made plain on tables” (Hab 2:2), then more than at any time since the early church, “many will run to and fro, and knowledge will be increased” (i.e., knowledge of the vision). Notice the relationship of the reading and the running to the ‘making plain’ of the vision. It’s got to be clear and simple enough for anyone to read, provided their dependency is on the grace of the Spirit’s illumination, of course.
I love and thank Him so much for doing this for me. The ponderous message I bear with so many facets and parts is no longer so top heavy and unwieldy for practical communication and demonstration to the average believer. This is not just for preachers, and there’s no need of academic preparation. Every willing witness who will trust nothing in themselves but in the Spirit’s leading and use of this simple approach will be fully empowered and equipped to make a clear case for the gospel, which will not be easily ignored or dismissed by Jew or Gentile.
In a short space of time, I believe we can show, and just as importantly, show others how to show (2Tim 2:2), the basic form and outline of the mystery of the gospel in an unforgettable simplicity, that exhibits a beautiful picture of astonishing balance and symmetry. Even a young person will be able to sketch the basic idea out on a piece of paper for anyone to see (I once had a dream that our young people were showing these things to inquiring visitors).
God has a beautiful picture He wants everyone to see; He glories in our seeing it. Though fearful to the despiser, it is the rest and the refreshing to the weary and the hungry. Many will be brought to that deep sense of need through the world crisis that is so near at hand. His mystery, so hidden from pride (Mt 11:25), but ordained before creation to our glory (1Cor 2:7), is like a beautiful masterpiece that God, with all the love, simplicity, and sweetness of a little child, wants to show His friends (Jn 15:15; Gen 18:17 w/ Isa 41:8; Amos 3:7 w/ Rev 10:7).
It is more than another method or approach to presenting the gospel; it is the approach to bringing the gospel that is specifically called, “the commandment of the everlasting God” (Ro 16:25, 26 KJV). The book of Acts demonstrates that this is how the early church preached Christ by showing that the proclamation was “none other things than what Moses and the prophets said would come” (Acts 26:22).
Although, God’s witness of Himself comes in many varied ways, this in particular is the instrumental means and method that Paul used in preaching the gospel. He defined the gospel as a mystery that had been fully foretold in the prophets, yet kept secret until the appointed time of revelation. But now is made manifest and “by the Scriptures of the prophets made known for the obedience of faith among all nations.”
If this reading is correct, the church has neglected its responsibility to present the gospel as a revelation of a mystery that was once concealed in the writings of the prophets, and now to be made known to the nations by use of those same prophetic writings. When this is done, the supernatural power of God in prophecy is demonstrated. At the same time, the gospel is being shown in its original character as the revelation of a mystery. This leads to the very important question as to the reason why God chose to keep His purpose secret until after its fulfillment. The answer to that question goes far towards explaining Israel’s fall and the entire age between the advents.
Those are difficult concepts, and foreign to many people’s thought or consideration. That is why I believe God has given us a simple method of setting this up for anyone to see clearly and easily. This approach came to me while sharing with a seventeen year old neighbor in my living room, and then with my grand daughter, who is only 11. The excitement of two pastors that came up to see me this weekend is further evidence of the effectual blessing of this new found simplicity.
You’ll see what I mean, but basically it just begins with what everybody knows of the Christmas story, the story of Joseph who was sold by his brothers, and the great public sign of modern times, the Holocaust, and with those well known reference points, it lays out in utterly simplicity and accessibility the whole “big picture” of God’s glorious plan for Israel and the church.
I don’t suggest that this covers all the bases. It’s certainly not the whole counsel of God. But it really does establish a wonderful grid and framework in which to see the overall plan of God, and the harmony between the Old and New Testaments. It is a catalyst that opens up many other issues of vital relevance for these end times. Superficially, it’s not all that impressive; that’s part of its genius. But, I know what the power of its working can mean to the church over the long haul. I know in my experience how much has hindered and opposed this kind of simple clarity.
Though it comes to the hearer in such an unobtrusive manner, once it is heard and understood (even in its most basic outline), it will not let them go if they are the Lord’s. Even if they are not born again, and do not at first appreciate the amazing evidence for the gospel in the Old Testament, once exposed to their conscious understanding, this message may well come back to them, as the angel of the Lord’s presence to meet them and wrestle them through in a time of personal crisis (The “Jacob’s trouble” principle).
I’m very sure that this, or something in basic keeping with this, is substantially and essentially what the Jews will hear from the church in the wilderness during the coming “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1; Mt 24:21). I have no doubt of it. Ultimately, it’s just the gospel, only now displayed in all its glorious parts, in such a way that everything in the Word can be seen in its proper place and relationship, and utterly purposeful in every part. It is like the well organized lady of the house who insists to her children, “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” Talk about an invincible, irresistible, “consummate apologetic” of prophetic proof! (Rev 19:10b).
I tell you, brother, by grace and grace alone, we’re on to something here! I don’t believe I’m speaking from the standpoint of mere human excitement when I say, that God has given something precious for everyone, that everyone can not only appreciate but effectively use in their witness. We already have the basic vision for ourselves, of course. But, I have prayed for grace to “make it plain upon tables” for even “the least of these.” It has the potential, and I believe for sure, it will be powerful among our young people. This is all about them too, maybe even especially.
I feel that this is at least the beginning of a “clear word” that will set much in motion that God has ordained. I expect it will revolutionize the ‘apocalyptic evangelism course’ conceived by Art and me a few years back, which was interrupted and suspended. I’d be willing to come and lay this out for your evaluation, or I will do the best I can to share with you over the phone. It would be best presented in a kind of workshop on the use of prophecy in evangelism. It is quite versatile and easily adapts to each person’s individual style and use.
Another blessed aspect of this approach, is that it doesn’t require much time, just an hour or two, and if possible some follow up Q & A, should be enough to deposit a beginning that will take care of itself without the necessity of direct guidance. When certain key points are established and in place, people’s Bibles will light up everywhere they turn, and it will be a joy to hear of all that God has opened to them when you hear from them again.
In abiding affection, Reggie
I know what this discovery has meant to me, and tried to warn others that it would not be “revelation” or some ‘new thing’, certainly not to those who have been tracking with us for any time. I wanted their prayer in view of its potential for simplifying difficult and controversial subject matter, but also warned that it might not be too impressive outwardly. It’s not that kind of thing.
You will especially appreciate that it’s all based on your burden for the story of Joseph, as applied to Christ’s return to the penitent remnant of Israel.
Here’s what I do:
I simply begin with people’s familiarity with the story of Bethlehem and show them the prophecy in Mic 5:2, pointing out the antiquity of the prophecy (8th century contemporary of Isaiah). I then point out the next verse (Mic 5:3), which shows the “giving up” of Israel, pointing out the causal connection between the “therefore” of verse 3 and the “giving up” of the nation to the smiting of the ruler in verse 1 – Mic 5:1 (obviously the ruler from Bethelehem of verse 2 – Mic 5:2). I make much of the fact that the “giving up” of Israel is never permanent, but only UNTIL the time of Zion’s travail, pointing out that this is OT language for the travail and subsequent birth of the nation which follows the unequaled travail of “Jacob’s trouble” (Isa 66:8; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1). I then ask if they’ve ever heard of the “great tribulation” (many have through everything from the “Left Behind” series to the History Channel. I sometimes mention the view of many Rabbis who spoke of “the messianic woes” or “footsteps of the Messiah” in reference to this fearful time.
(After this simple foundation, the way is made for almost any point of importance. In other words, it is a convenient grid to build on, as it opens up many of the great questions and issues of the mystery of the faith in its full reach to the end of the age).
It’s the perfect lead to then suggest that the time of the divine surrender of the nation corresponds to the rejection of the Cornerstone on the evidence that will follow. That may be a good time (or perhaps you might elect to hold it till later as a punch line) to suggest that the “return of His brethren” stands in manifest analogy to Joseph’s family reunion at the moment of his self revelation to the brethren that sold him over to humiliation and suffering.
On that note, the next step is to follow through using and underlining for emphasis all the strategic eschatalogical UNTILS of scripture (replacement’s great nemesis!).
These highly significant ‘untils’ all combine to show that Israel’s blindness and exile is both temporary and everywhere connected to the return of the rejected Jesus as typified by Joseph. So the order and the way this is used becomes a matter of personal adaptation. But, before going to Zech 12:10 w/ Mt 23:39 (“until you shall say “Blessed is He who comes ….”), I first call their attention to another key ‘until’ passage, namely Hos 5:15-6:2. It is also strategic that this also appears in the OT. There, I make much of the fact that the terminal point ‘until’ awaits the acknowledgement of some great national “offense” (not offenses). Then I point out that the One who “goes away to return to His place” covers the same time that God is hiding His face in disapproval while another people are blessed in Israel’s place (Deut 31:17,18; 32:20-21; Isa 8:17: Ezek 39:24, 29).
After the two days of divine desertion, paralleling the “giving up” of Mic 5:3, the rejected One returns to revive the fallen nation to begin His universal reign over His restored brethren who now “abide” (Mic 5:4). If they are Christians or have heard of the millennium, I point out that the Jews are raised to live out the third day in His sight, corresponding to the thousand year reign of Messiah. I don’t mind telling anyone of my conviction that the two days answer to the two thousand years that I believe is to be reckoned from the time of the nation’s rejection of Messiah as typified by Joseph until the time of His revelation to Israel at His return. This is where Zech 12:10 used with Mt 23:39 takes on such glorious force. It is the most wonderful love story ever conceived.
With this much evidence for the rejection of Christ, it is an easy step to turn to either Isa 53 or Dan 9:26 where both prophecies refer to the Messiah’s death by the phrase, “cut off”, showing that the anonymous Servant in Isa 53 and of the anointed Prince of Dan 9:26 are one and the same. This is just an opening for all the many evidences that can then, time permitting, be added to demonstrate the gospel in the Old Testament. Not only as a mystery that pertains to Christ two comings, but as a mystery that reveals God’s plan in all its glorious relationship to the fall and rising again of Israel. As I said, it provides a port of entrance by which one can move freely, fitting each additional piece into its now apparent place in the story.
Sure, it is well known that the two comings of Christ were foretold, but this proves the relation of the second to Israel with all that this implies for where we are now at the end of the age. One is able to verify from OT prophecy that between the comings of Christ, the face of God is hidden from the nation at the very same time that God is provoking the Jew to jealousy by another people (the predominantly Gentile church; Deut 32:21 etc.). This shows that the covenant curse of Lev 26, Deut 28-32, reiterated in all the prophets, is fulfilled during the time that God’s face is hidden from the nation. The curse of divine desertion continues only “Until” the Spirit is poured at the post tribulational DOL (Isa 32:15; Ezek 39:29; Zech 12:10; et al). “From that day and forward” (Ezek 39:22), the face of God is never again hidden from Israel, because, “I have poured out my Spirit…” (Ezek 39:29). It shows the basic outline of history in prophecy, and makes sense of the unexpectedly long interval that has already passed between the first and second comings, which brings us now full circle again to an imminent world crisis over Jerusalem as a modern cup of trembling.
The point that surfaces about an unequaled tribulation opens up the present fulfillment of prophecy for discussion and makes room to draw out implications for either believer or unbeliever. But of indispensable importance, is its ability to open up the very neglected theme of the gospel as a divinely intended mystery hidden from Israel for judgement (as a snare and stone of stumbling), with its huge implications for the church and the modern scene as the concluding stage of the same mystery (so much on this). This opens the issue of the God who hides His secret from pride. This provides a radical readjustment of how God is perceived. There are just so many ways to take it from there.
Time permitting, particularly in the case of the Jew, particularly an orthodox Jew, I would expand on the ancient contention of the covenant, and the explanation it provides for the mystery of Jewish suffering (as per the holocaust), and its solution and goal in the revelation of the righteousness of God in Christ, i.e. “the everlasting righteousness” (Isa 26:12; 45:25-26; 54:17; Jer 23:6; 32:40; Dan 9:24), first revealed to the church at the end 69th week of Daniel, but later to be revealed to Israel at the end of the seventieth.
The Lord has also showed me how to prove beyond reasonable dispute the futurity of Daniel’s last week. I know you agree and don’t need reinforcement for your own sake, but, as you know, it is a favorite target of replacement theology. So if you’d like to seal the lid on it for the sake of someone who might be helped to escape their specious arguments, let me know. . That too is a key for opening and showing so much else that is critically relevant for these days, such as showing how the seventy weeks is a perfect example of the OT mystery of Messiah’s coming, departure, and return to Israel, as a secret sealed and kept under wraps (the Hebrew of Isa 8:16 w/ Dan 9:24; 12:4, 9; Ro 16:25-26; 1Pet 1:11-12 etc.) The seventy weeks is constructed around the incarnation of two princes, in One, the mystery of godliness, and in the other, the mystery of iniquity, for which the end of the age waits (2Thes 2:7). So much this opens too.
All in all, making some of these connections (how much you bring in at any one time will, of course, all depend on the teaching or witnessing situation) will set in clear relief so much that can then be brought to bear in showing the mystery of the gospel in the OT and the “big picture” of God’s multifaceted plan in history. Not all, but a great many questions that people ask can be more intelligently discussed and demonstrated in the context of this basic mystery that restores the context in relation to Israel and the covenant that is fulfilled only in part at Christ first coming, but completely at His second. The ramifications of understanding Israel in relationship to the New or Everlasting covenant goes far towards recovering the true nature of the gospel of grace, since all is so inseparably related.
There’s just so much that can be built on this basic structure, so well demonstrated in both testaments. The possibilities are endless. For me, it’s a fit. But that’s me. However, I believe it can be a structure and form that can be adapted to anyone’s own style and orientation. Like I said, it’s not a panacea, not the whole counsel of God by any means. It’s just a good place to begin to tell the story. And built right in is such a clear proof of the miracle of prophecy, which is so powerful to impart purpose and meaning to the intellectually reserved. At very least, it’s a really helpful way to make a start towards managing and communicating a very involved and massive amount of information for the average believer, or unbeliever, as the case may have it.
So it may not look or sound like all that much to some. But I know intimately how forbidding and unwieldy these subjects can seem. Where does one throw in? Is always the question for me. So for me, and I believe for many, this kind of approach will serve (in at least some kinds of situations), as a well suited means to “cut to the chase”, so to speak, since it can avoid so many of the usual stumbling blocks. It shatters replacement theology for all but the most hard nosed academics. It leaves pre tribulationism in tact in the early goings, but also raises the questions that give opportunity for serious review among that school as well. At least it leaves everyone with a more New Testament oriented approach to doing evangelism (Ro 16:25-26). That’s the short of it, Dean. It’s something I’ve been looking for and praying for, for a long time. But I don’t think it’s just for me. Sincerely, Reggie
I’m glad you asked. I noticed many misleading typos. Like I said, that was only a first draft written hurriedly.
Deut 31:16 is the wrong verse. It is the next two verses (31:17-18) that speak of the hiding of God’s face as one of the curses that would follow upon Israel’s infidelity to the covenant. The age long hiding of God’s face is a theme that is oft repeated in the prophets, and one that has never been given its due, particularly in showing God’s ongoing covenant contention with the Jewish people.
The scripture I intended is Deut 32:21. That is where God says, “because you have provoked me with other gods, I will make you jealous with another people.” Paul leaves no question that the people through whom Israel is to be made jealous are Gentile believers (Ro 10:19; 11:11).
I was trying to show that the preceding verse (Deut 32:20), implies that the hiding of God’s face is concurrent with the time that Israel is being made jealous by another people, and angry by a ‘foolish nation’ (compare Mt 21:43). This anomaly lasts “until” the Spirit is poured out at the post-tribulational day of the Lord (Isa 32:15; 44:3; 59:21; Ezek 36:26-27; 37:14; esp Ezek 39:22-29; Joel 2:29-32; Zech 12:10 et al).
It was the revelation of the mystery of the gospel that occasioned the pouring out of the Spirit on Pentecost after Christ’s death at the end of the 69th week of Daniel (Dan 9:24), and it will be the revelation of the same mystery (sealed vision) that will occasion the pouring out of the Spirit on the surviving remnant of Israel at the end of the 70th week.
Notice the significant relationship between the revelation of the mystery of the gospel and the sending of the Spirit (see 1Pet 1:11-12). It is instructive that Isa 8:14-17 shows that during the time that God is hiding His face from Israel, there is a “testimony” that is “bound up” (Heb. “held under wraps”), and a “torah” (teaching) that is “sealed up among my disciples” which would cause many in Israel to stumble. We know that the prophecy speaks of Jesus as the rock of offense. But it is particularly the prophetic mystery of Christ and His twofold advent that baffled Israel and emboldened their rejection of the cornerstone (Mt 21:42; Lk 24:45-46; Jn 7:41; 12:34; 1Cor 2:7). Furthermore, the same mystery concerning Christ and the gospel (“the rest and the refreshing; the precious tested cornerstone”) presents itself just as much at the end of the age to the orthodox Jewish leaders of Jerusalem in the days just before the Antichrist invasion (see Isa 28). So clearly, the mystery spans both comings. It is more than simply Jesus; it is the mystery concerning Him in both His comings to Israel. If you will compare Isa 8:16-17 with Ezek 39:29, you’ll see that the testimony (the gospel) remains sealed from Israel until the Spirit is “poured out” and God’s face is no longer hidden. This, of couse, is the day of the Lord (Ezek 39:22). This coincides with passages in Daniel and elsewhere that speak of a sealed vision that is understood at the end.
Notice that the impressive ‘until’ passages, Mic 5:3 and Hos 5:15, show that the Lord (who has been and gone) returns in mercy when Israel acknowledges their great national “offense” (singular) at the end of Zion’s travail (i.e., Jacob’s trouble; Jer 30:7; Dan 12:1). This fulfills Zech 12:10 and Mt 23:39 and Rev 1:7 in glorious analogy to the prophetic parable of the revelation of Joseph to his brethren.
So believing Gentiles are blessed in Israel’s place “Until … the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” (Ro 11:25). “Until the restoration of all things spoken by the all the prophets” (Acts 3:21); “Until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Lk 21:24), and so on. This explains the mystery of the present age between the advents. All roads lead to the day of the Lord, because all roads lead to the restoration of Israel in fulfillment of the everlasting covenant at Christ’s return. Appreciatively, Reggie
In your message with the scriptures, you mentioned the people being addressed in Dt 31:16 as to a ‘predominately Gentile church’. I’m aware that Stephen referred to the ‘church’ in the desert but were you referring to the fact that they had been raised in Egypt or the fact that many had ‘joined with’ them or what? If I’m going to talk about this, I want to be sure that what I’m talking about is Truth and not supposition. Thanks, Pa
Dear brother, I added some to my original letter to you and sent it to a few young brothers and friends. Rather than leave you in any suspense, I am sending my first written account of what I have in mind. It took a bit of a dig from an old friend to get it out of me this prematurely :-). I had wanted to write out the concept in much greater detail, and hope to still. But in the interest of time, and needing to get away from the computer for a while, I’m sending this all too brief account as a first installment on what deserves a much better description. There’s so much more to this approach than first meets the eye. So I can’t really expect too many to be as stirred as I am with it. It is in God’s hands.
All my love to the saints, Reggie