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LOOK AT THE FOURTEENTH ISLAND
CHAPTERS EIGHTEEN and NINETEEN
Israelis, Israel and the
their returns, His return
and the Final Confrontations,
Comradeship and Culmination ...
Returns ? There are physical
and spiritual ones (yet to be) for the Israel.
There has been a sacrificial
and there is to be a regal coming (yet to be) for the Lord.
Staring the facts in the face, rather than tying
them in name-tag bundles, one may then
discern the pattern, program and the pulse of truth in history, from beyond it,
as contained in the Bible, and planned by the Lord.
We come then at length to the.
WITH SOME LOOK AT THE COMMENCEMENT FOR
THE BEGINNING AND THE END ARE CORRELATIVE
The SECOND SECTOR
Comradeship and Culmination
See also Deliver Us from Dispensationalism
and Ch. 4 above
together with Department of Bible, Volume 7, Ch. 2
The Dog to
its Vomit, the History to its Control,
the Jew to his land,
the Lord to His earth and the Truth
to its Inevitable Impact
now see something more of Israel's release, following her predicted return (cf.
SMR Appendix A), when many in the land are
to come to the Lord, their disruption from whom has led to their devastating
lowering to the lowering roars of Gentile peoples, themselves astray, and hence
to a profusion of sects and squalid substitutes for the biblical truth, where
confusion has its masterpiece, not in Macbeth but in a muddle not unlike it,
when not Duncan but God is in human format slain, and not Lady Macbeth, but the
devil incites to ever new perversions of the most obvious and irrefutable truth
of the word of God, which being breached, does not bend.
We now see something more of Israel's release, following her predicted return (cf. SMR Appendix A), when many in the land are to come to the Lord, their disruption from whom has led to their devastating lowering to the lowering roars of Gentile peoples, themselves astray, and hence to a profusion of sects and squalid substitutes for the biblical truth, where confusion has its masterpiece, not in Macbeth but in a muddle not unlike it, when not Duncan but God is in human format slain, and not Lady Macbeth, but the devil incites to ever new perversions of the most obvious and irrefutable truth of the word of God, which being breached, does not bend.
In the following excerpt, we see this mass conversion prediction set in the current situation, where Jew and Gentile alike, in their nations, avoid the reality and find the nullity of ruin as a result.
Their physical return is as foretold; their spiritual return is brewing and to be, while the nations who concern themselves with the annihilation, dismemberment or goose-necking diminution of Israel find for themselves the truth of Zechariah 12, where those who concern themselves with arrogant self-will to order and organise Israel and Jerusalem, meet a wall not of brick, but of explosive dynamism.
What do you expect ?
If man tries to take over from God, there is one simple fact: he has neither the ability nor the authority. The Middle East is one vast laboratory situation, showing to the universe at large, this very fact. The solution is in the salvation of God, foretold for millenia, and enacted for more millenia, ignored for inundation with ruin, and despised for irresolvable alternation between hope and hindrance, resolution and disaster. So the experiment goes; and man does not learn. He has however been told all of this, the principle and the outcome, which now, as in a science text, occurs before his eyes.
Their physical return has been covered in part in Part I, that is the first section, Ch. 18. Their spiritual return is focussed in Ch. 19 below, with the eschatological, the summary, the consummative phases of history for this earth.
One Imposing Fact
In this procedure, it is important to realise one imposing fact. Many nations exulted, seeing the once so notable, for some notorious, the brilliantly victorious Israel of former and ancient times, reduced to ruin so palpable that when Christ declared this breed would not fail till He came back, it seemed a vastly vulnerable prediction for any but GOD, from whom indeed it came, the very lips of the Messiah saying so. The triumphant kings and prophets who wrought by faith in fidelity, such as Hezekiah, as David going back, as Solomon, as Joshua, whose word could be made to stand even if the very configuration of the earth's orbit were to be changed, or asteroids should fall: these were past.
Now the Messiah had come, the acme of power and the marvel of majesty, the deity in flesh, and they had served notice on Him to quit. He died but did not quit. Immortality is like that. He rose in body from the dead and His work continued by the power of His Spirit, He having made not only a sacrifice for eternity, efficient, proficient and palpable, but the final exhibition of power before judgment. No search could locate His body; no traitor (and such there were) could find it; no power on earth could secure it, no army could conserve it, no situation could harass it, nor any political, judicial or social power confine it. He took it, and it was not there.
Moreover, He even did it to arithmetical specifications on the third day, as He so often declared, and the word of prophecy had stated from over half a millenium before, and the typology of Moses before that (cf. Matthew 16-17, SMR Ch. 6).
Thus, with their fiasco replacing faith (very much as when Israel did NOT enter the Promised Land under Moses, and suffered exceedingly for it cf. Hebrews 4, I Corinthians 10, Numbers 14), and the Lord Himself defaced in human form, an object for spittle, harassed beyond hospital, marshalled for morgue, there seemed a marvellous interim, interval, inter-regnum, opportunity. The cat's claw was gone; the cat's meat was missing. Mice ? they could play.
It was one thing when, as often, Israel was chastened by the Lord (as in the Assyrian overthrow of the Northern kingdom and the Babylonian devastation on the South under Nebuchadnezzar); but this was temporary. They arose again. Now however there was a whole AGE, the Age of the Gentiles. The Jew had gone to the seat of power, and lowered; and now the Gentile could come to that same seat (though often he did the exact opposite, as if keen to create a parallel to the follies of Israel, so that the whole human race could be obtuse and obfuscatory, misaligned and ready for destruction). He lowered very often not only at Israel and the Jew (as in the horrendous Roman Catholic Inquisition - Ancient Words ... Ch. 14 - but in pogroms and United Nations follies after that, as in 1947); now he goes far further.
Nation after nation of the Gentile era now systematically scorns morality, praises sexual perversion, sets up situational ethics, ignores absolutes and marshals increasingly, law as an enforcement agency, to quell opposition and even persecute and so prosecute those who protest, object or even announce the folly of perversion. Sodom received its due non-praise from the Lord (cf. Jude), and certainly Sodom might have something to learn from sophisticated Gentile nations, not a few, in our era! How man provokes the Lord, impugns first His patience as weakness, and then seeks to impale His power as persecution or cruelty!
Now many of the Gentiles love to imagine a new situation. Forgetting the ancient facts, and the word of God, constantly and continually fulfilled to the letter, they now imagine that they have a new world, one available for manipulation, for mastery by pedants, push by philosophers and subjection by politicians and their armies, whether of bureaucrats or more obvious weaponry.
They seek, with the Jew power gone, to imagine that there is none; and they desire, with various heresies abounding, as if man had lost his mind or sold his soul, or even both, to relativise and improvise and create as if the entire universe were their creation, though they are but a portent within it, created for God, by God, in the will of God, and with His oversight.
They want comparative religions, when this is the precise opposite of the facts; for NONE has ANY rational ground in logic, validity and verification even comparable to any degree, with that of the Bible
(cf. Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ, Reason, Revelation and the Redeemer).
They desire to contemplate their navels, with navies and air forces, with armies and controls, and find the extra-terrestrials while their absence is a monument to pride and an abyss to folly; and yet they ignore the systematic dicta found in the DNA, far surpassing in brilliance of enteprise, technical magnificence and conception of unity of the result, and efficacy, anything that man has even himself, begun to create. The very liberty to deny the obvious, and to be oblivious of the necessary (cf. SMR), is part of the creation which man is powerless to touch in its heights, and to control in its depths. Millions die, but he does not control. The antichrist (John 2), who though long present in spirit, is yet to come with a face (the devil's messiah, just as Christ is the Lord's Incarnation), he will do a little better for a little while (I Thessalonians 5, II Thessalonians 2, Revelation 13, John 14:30, Matthew 24:15).
In what way, better ? you ask. It is only in efficiency. Hitler and Mao both made amazingly diligent efforts to reach that deep projection into hell which would give them such a control over the human race, but were soon in the pits. The final effort (Revelation 13,17), will be far more thorough, and for a little while, it will seem to have the entire world in its will. It is just that rebellion before God always finds it come-uppance; and at times whole empires have their imperial little dog's day, before going their way, continual lessons for history. However man loves to ignore it, always imagining he is 'developing', whereas devilry is his due advance, and folly his favoured domain. If technically, he slowly learns some little parts of God's vast programs, yet in the word of God he becomes as an illiterate, just as history has its mouth filled with philosophy, lest it should speak.
This final acme of evil will come only soon to go, for the confrontation being then more total, so will be the end! (cf. II Thessalonians 1!).
Thus the point we wish to develop is this. Man now loves to roam around in imaginary comparative religion premises, as if it all depended on what HE CHOSE. Objectivity however is no more to be attained by such subjectivistic tilts at truth, in spiritual understanding, than in scientific domains. It just does not work that way. You have to be thorough, precise, careful and diligent in both, and when you are, then you may avoid the follies that seek to gate-crash into either. This is increasingly avoided, even scientific method being as much distorted by many in the field of science, as scriptural exegesis and authority is in the field of theology. It is the century of vagrancy, flapping its broken wings, and hurting, hurting...
The Jew however, as a nation is back, though still rebellious. Nothing alters that. He is WHERE he is supposed to be, but not yet doing WHAT he is supposed to be doing, towards the Lord. Where the divorce first came, for the nonce, it continues!
The Arab, the Iranian, the Moslem, the Romanist, the Judaiser, the terrorist of religious bent, these all seek their own concepts. They cannot win. They are all, being wrong, in confrontation with God. It never works in the end; and while it is not quite a waste of time, in that the lessons of history mount as with wings and soar over man with great declamations, yet he does not hear.
Some want Jerusalem for this or that political purpose. In May 2007, we learn that PM Blair is now filled with talk about mutual accommodation among religions, and seeks some sort of understanding, for example, between Jew and Arab, Judaism and Islam, and more beside, claiming a common Abraham. However the common Abraham is as much an invention as is the mass (cf. SMR pp. 1080ff.). The actual one is on record as to his dealings in one ancient place only, the Bible. The covenant is present in detail and has been for well over a millenium before Muhammad, tested and found valid, as his words are tested ? but what is there to test in proper verificatory manner ? It is just that his alleged power is met by actual force-type failure! (cf. SMR pp. 830ff.), just as the Koran seeks to build on what does not support it in the Old Testament, or sanction it by reason (cf. SMR 1080ff., More Marvels ... Ch. 4).
It is moreover far too late, this Koran, to cover the sin case, as exhibited by the Bible, going back to the time of need from the first. It is many generations later, and too late! God never varies from His opposition to sin, and leaves NOTHING without removal or remedy; and if the remedy, as now, has two millenia for application, it is THERE, and available at this precise minute for ANY ONE who calls on the name of the Lord and Father, whom Christ revealed, Himself the explicit and eternal word of God made flesh, shining in glory amongst resistant man! How marvellous that some came to Him, following the irrefutable evidence; but acting in faith!
But man now, wallowing in non-wisdom, retching with moral relativism, and seeking to import spiritual relativity as well, imagines that many gods and things (cf. the South Australian EXPLICIT folly in its educational field, delcaring just such things to School Principals in terms of curriculum, as in TMR Ch. 8) are not really very apt at fact. This marvellous invention, vomiting reality and assailing fact as well as the Lord in its implications, stands a monument to non-scholarship and oblivion to truth. This is merely a SYMPTOM of what is moving amid the nations.
But the Arab CANNOT remove Israel, because it is sent back (cf. Ezekiel 36), in disgrace assuredly - 36:22, but in the very face of the human race, whatever its efforts as in the Madrid Quartet or the UN, to alter or limit it, or to hand it back to the oil nations, in part, in rural parts, or even in Jerusalem.
This cannot be done. Nor can Israel have peace while she insists on insulting the Lord's Christ. He, although their long promised and wholly verified Messiah (cf. SMR Chs. 8-9), is still by the nation rejected. It is breach of covenant, and what is to be expected for that! Their prosperity is foretold, and the vast national movements against it, likewise (as in Zechariah 12, moving on to their substantial conversion to this same Messiah, to come in one of the most dramatic moments of history).
No one can absolutely win; no peace can substantially for long prevail; no plan can avail; and the politicians vex their fingers with typing fidgets, or their minds with diligent digits, only to find that no, Mr Clinton, no, Mr Bush, no Mr UN, no Mr M Quartet, it does not, because it cannot work. It is like trying to work in the field of electricity, without understanding volts and amps!
It is useless for man, provocative for man, and a diligence bringing drama to be sure, but bulging with red face and burst arteries. Indeed multitudes lie dead in the midst of the mental mist and spiritual dilemmas brought about by spiritual rorts.
This then is beginning to appear as the generation of lost causes for good reasons; lost opportunities for bad actions; hopeful pride in flesh for hopeless aspirations, and more and more power to back the sure failures that come. If this spells calamity in any other field, it is no less so in this one. It continues to demonstrate itself continually as such. The smile fades, the grandiose plans recede into the mist, and the musts of mountebanks become musty.
The facts remain. God has a people. They failed at last, but first were given both scripture and Christ. God has brought them back as He said He would. Nations try to contest, but fail. Israel tries to bring quiet, but fails. The world whirls into prophetic limelight, inheriting as God said it would, not only for this nonsense in the Middle East, but for a thousand other reasons in die-hard unbelief, fixed ideas and educational follies, as if to seduce the young, lest any seeing the light, lead it out of its now congenital blindness and resultant blights!
There are not many valid contenders for truth, but there is one God, one Book of the Lord, one incarnate Christ who verified both Himself and the long written word of God, there is one Lord who then spoke and there is one history which has done, and it has verified one only, and it has spoken as an echo to the word of God, and man stuffs his ears with desire and his mind with delusion, closing his eyes, as the Lord Jesus Christ put it to Israel, they should see with eyes and hear with their ears, and be converted and He should heal them!
What glorious ingratitude, and what impressive ineptitude. Yet they talk and teach and beseech, and complain of fate, or chance or any other irrelevant invention of thought to cover non-facts about the authority in the universe (cf. Ancient Words and Modern Events Chs. 9 , 13), rumble about relativism, ruin design and malign it, as if it were not enough to breach the very conditions of their own lives, but must also breach the authority behind it, substituting their own, as if captains of history, marshals of the future or mesmerists of fate!
THE CENTURY OF CONFRONTATION is likely to be the last; for when the issues reach down to hell and up to heaven, the short-circuit stands ready to act, with huge electrical discharge. Already multiplied millions have refused to become minions to the mischiefs of false religions such as Communism, Romanism and Islam, and all the adventurisms which make for virtual, but not virtuous religion, made not in Japan, or China, or Russia, but in Man!
EVOKING THE END
The Biblical Workman
We see the approach to the end of the spiritual saga for Israel and not only for it, but for many. There can been a considerable addition in size to this chapter, in terms of the original!
THE ASSAULT ON ISRAEL -
THE AWAKENING IN ISRAEL
The assault on Israel could not, incidentally, come DURING the millenium, for this ferociously provocative wallowing in the power of the flesh against the Lord and His promises, is precisely contrary to millenium depiction, uniformly in the Bible (cf. Isaiah 65:25). Nor could it, for that matter, come at the end of it, for then there is no time left on earth for the protracted peace in the fulness of blessing as the knowledge of the glory of the Lord covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. It must therefore necessarily precede the millenium, and thus, in the uninterrupted fabric of history as repeatedly presented in the prophets.
Nor can it occur in the midst of horrific hatred of Christ, entrenched in the antichrist and his hour of (comparative but cruel) power, just prior to the return in power and victory, of Jesus Christ who with His saints "shall reign upon the earth" (Revelation 2:26-27, 19:7,14, Ephesians 5:28-33, John 3:29, Matthew 9:13, 25:6ff., Zechariah 14:5-9, cf. Revelation 5:10, 20:4-6; cf. Revelation 20:6 with II Thessalonians 2:8-12).
In other words, this grand awakening in Israel (Zechariah 12:10), it appears before the bride, the whole beloved corpus of the people of God, not cut up into parts, but one, is taken to the marriage feast of the lamb (Revelation 19:7-8), so that "death is swallowed up in victory" (Isaiah 25:8) in every sense. In this way, when the Lord comes, it is with ALL the saints (Zechariah 14:5, I Thessalonians 3:13), not some of them, and His affianced is now married in heaven, not some portion of her, the legs left behind for example.
Now is the time of Paul's declaration on the wonderful unity in the ONE faith of the ONE family of the ONE God (cf. Romans 11:25ff., Ephesians 4:4, Galatians 3:28) in ONE Gospel (cf. Galatians 1:6-9) in ONE way, after MANY divagations, distresses, divisions and divergencies. These go, He has come, and the twofold-ness if finished, in one. Such is the message of Romans 11.
Now is the healing, now the demise of the wheeler-dealing of many false prophets, internal and external to Jew and Christian, and now is the paean of praise of Paul fulfilled in just the way he proclaimed.
Israel the nation ? Once they were the tree, its principal foliage, then they departed from the Lord chiefly through assisting His departure from themselves, AS A NATION, in the most pointed way, the points being nails on the Cross of Calvary. Then they were of course cut out (cf. Zechariah 11, where the covenant is broken, and Romans 11), and the Gentiles were brought in.
WHY were they brought in ? It is for the same reason as that for which Israel as a nation, was cut out of the tree of living faith. That is what Paul declares.
Here we must be careful. This is not at all the same as being cut out of the promises, which being God's word, ALWAYS stand (Ezekiel 36 makes it clear that for HIS OWN NAME'S sake God will honour these promises, even though Israel, on whose behalf He honours them, is to be utterly ashamed at her disreputable conduct, a point patent in 36:22 especially). It is DESPITE their lack of grace, that He acts in the grace of truth and faithfulness. That is what God declares. If you want to know the mind of God, it is good to listen.
The Gentiles then come in because of faith, Israel goes out as a nation-exhibit for the Lord (cf. Isaiah 43:21),an expression of life in Himself, and suffers as Leviticus 26 so sharply showed in prediction, because of lack of that same faith. "So," says the word of God, after the sale of Christ, concerning the covenant, "so it was broken on that day."
No more was the mode of Israel to be used as a criterion, only as exhibit. It is necessary to be balanced: both to avoid the aversion from the Jew, because of what Israel the nation did, and to void the imagination that Israel, having crucified Christ as a nation, has any future as a spiritual exemplar! Write it in a book for ever and ever, that this is a rebellious people, says Isaiah 30, and Israel will be one with Egypt, and Assyria, says Isaiah19.
Yet its special history has enormous teaching power, and God's faithfulness to specific promises, which both include its restoration to the land and its exclusion from any place in the midst of Gospel rejoicing peoples, except in restoration to that Gospel, and in its specific terms, any division of diversity from Gentile Christians (Isaiah 65, 19, Galatians 11, Colossians 3, Ephesians 1), is sure.
What then at the turning point, when they are restored to the SPIRITUAL reality of the ONE TREE as in Romans 11 ?
Then God opens the eyes of a mass in Israel (as in Romans 11:25), a fact as Paul declares, of which we MUST NOT be ignorant. Next this being so, they repent and seeing the saving action of Christ with the eyes of faith as in Zechariah 12:10, they become Christians. There is only one Christianity, one faith, one gospel, on crucified Christ, one Lord of all (Ephesians 4:4), one dying into Christ, one living in Him, one salvation all of grace, one place for any in any race in the domain of grace, in the halls of holiness, in the way to it. However the beginnings vary at the start, this is the case for any race in the end (Ephesians 1:10). We are not gathered up in two or more, but in one in Christ (cf. Galatians 3:28). When all is lost, and all is forfeited by all, then the claims for MORE are void, and the promises given to all, are all.
God may indeed use Jerusalem, where not Israel but Christ, God in human form, Himself, was crucified, as a centre as in Micah 4*A; but this is no more Jewish, in differential grandeur ultimately, since Israel killed Christ, than it is Gentile. Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11). It is a city where GOD is vindicated against all who mocked Israel wrongly, and mocked Christ wrongly, being Gentile and Jew respectively. Israel is now merely one with the others, as in Isaiah 19. Its special place as a race has been a witness and means of witness (as in Romans 9) to God, both constructively and destructively. Its leadership is lost in Christ (Isaiah 54:5).
The Jew is vindicated in that his Lord was Lord indeed, and the Exodus was from God assuredly, and the testimony of the word of God as given in the prophets was infallible truth (cf. Isaiah 8:20, 59:21). The Gentile is vindicated in that the Gospel on which he insisted, as being fulfilled in the crucified Messiah, is just so: his testimony also is correct. But he was slow to come, and Israel alas left; and in neither is there any ground for pride. Each must come empty, or being 'rich', be sent empty away. it is only God who is vindicated without sin, glorified without distaste, and to be exalted. NOTHING ELSE (Isaiah 2).
The Gentile addition has been the same in humiliation and restoration from bankruptcy by grace (Ephesians 2:8), as was the Jewish extraction (cf. Romans 4:10-25,Galatians 4:21-31). The original plan through Abraham was designed for all of faith, designated to all, achieved for all as one people. The vast deliverance of Israel (Micah 7, Ezekiel 38-39) is in a context of dealing with the haters of God who hate Israel derivatively (Jeremiah 30:16-17), for believing or not, it stands like a peak to remind all of what God has done with it, through it and despite it, in accord with His word which He gave through it!
The result is that all will realise that God called, disciplined and restored Israel at His will (Ezekiel 39:23-29, Zephaniah 3:8-13) and it is not as eminent, distinctive in majesty or power, for that is the place of the Messiah (Galatians 6:14), but as a "meek and humble people" that they then find their spiritual location, and all else follows. Indeed, "you will no longer be haughty in My holy mountain." It IS the LORD's holy mountain (Zephaniah 3:11). ALL is of Him and through Him and to Him as Paul declares in His summary of the whole plan of salvation and dispersion, desolation and restoration, humiliation of all and deliverance in Christ and in His merit only, of ANY ! (Romans 11:33). While for a time, pending eternity (II Peter 3) when the very works of the earth are burnt up and all things become new, there are assignments and places, it is only in His graces, for none is superior to any (Isaiah 19), and this is emphatic and dramatic, both, in the word of God.
What then of Jew and Gentile ?
Now both can forget their clamour for superiority and be at peace as ONE in Christ, for there is no difference. "You are all one in Christ," as Paul denotes in Galatians 3:28, and here you are in the broader domain of Abraham's seed, that of the seed of Christ who, unifying all, gives all to all (Gal. 3:29). This is the spiritual seed of Abraham which Paul assures the Gentile Galatians they are. Spiritually, this is the case; and he is indeed a Jew spiritually, who is one inwardly. There is no other kind spiritually, and Christ in John 8, is seen to rebuke Jewishness as a spiritual criterion, as much as Paul in Romans 2.
The true Jew is one inwardly (Romans 2:29); and while this does remove the distinctive pattern of history which God ordained for them, it does remove any sense of a divergence in the end, where the spiritual reality is shared manifestly by ALL in ONE tree, by grace which is universally both free and valid in ONE WAY ONLY. The one part of the body had special task, mission, enterprise and vision for a time, then blindness; the other part had world-wide call (cf. Isaiah 65:1-15), while the majesty-hungry nation of Israel lost all place but that in coming mercy (Ezekiel 36), and even that in a fashion most fastidiously excluded any self-glory! (36:22).
It was repudiated with a divine rigour (Isaiah 30, 65:13-15) that made of the Gentile converts during its long blindness (Romans 11:25), something most distinctive in their turn. Then the wheel turns, the welts soften (Jeremiah 31:18-22), the incarnation provides mercy in a new release (30:9, 31:22), the mercy flows, humiliation reaches its spiritual depth for the nation (Ezekiel 36:22), the Jew awakens in Israel, the Lord bathes the wounds, rebukes the outrageously imperious aggressors and settles all things down to the place where the Gentiles indeed rejoice with His people, and they who were not His people are now called His people, all one in Christ Jesus (Romans 9:25ff.). The only division of note now is that between the autocracy of Satan and Co. and the regality of Christ and His meek people, Jew and Gentile, over whom alike He rules in the beauty of holiness as the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11, Psalm 72), one Lord, one baptism, one faith!
Isaiah 65:13ff., and 30:8ff. thunder against ANY return to specially select status in spiritual terms, in any way whatsoever. The end is unitary, final, consummatory, in Christ plus nothing (Colossians 3:11), for Christ is all and in all. There is no addition or subtraction. HE ONLY now is given.
-ISMITIS LIKE 'FLU IS HEADY
Amillenialism tries to remove history because of this fact; and replacement theology, stuttering on after the keys of the car are turned off, tries in increase the spiritual domain into a diversity. They are tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee, and their opposition is sure, since neither both stays with, and stops at, the word of God. Each takes a point, valid in a given context because of its parameters, and then ignoring other realities, rams it over all. Rightly dividing the word of God is a matter of stopping where each context stops, and starting where it starts, not startling with things which simply ignore the dimensions of the word of God, spelled out in most clamantly obvious principle.
GOD will be FAITHFUL and do all He said; and GOD alone will be honoured (Isaiah 2:17), when having sealed the segments, He brings all to the only One in the only life in the only domain now suffered for any; for all are forfeit except in Christ. Indeed, this desire for something special, not merely in the movements of peoples and lands, in order to show the power of God, but in spiritual terms, in some new exemplification after the Gospel has come to Israel, it becomes an impediment to faith for the Jew.
In what way ? It is this. It looms into the land of having that proud hope of MORE for me, for mine, which is so decisively and with such confrontation, dismissed in the Bible. It is as hard for a man to enter into the kingdom of heaven, when the riches of inheritance or power or prestige or anything else clinging to him, as for a camel to go through the eye of the needle. It is necessary to unpack the baggage swelling out the sides of the camel, if the Jew or the Gentile alike to is get in at ALL!
As to the power and majesty of God: Exemplification of His word in its precision is one thing, and a testimony; the amillenialist fails here. Stopping at the arrests in His word is another, and the replacement theologian in its broad expression in the magazine noted, fails here. Back to the mainland all, and there is the peace of abiding in His word: precision and principle alike honoured.
How often did Christ reject those who insisted on some appearance in His word, who did not see the most obvious principles, and use these are controls for comprehension! (cf. Luke 20:27ff. with Matthew 22:29, Matthew 24:1ff., 23:16-23).
What then of Romans 11:25ff., Zechariah 12:10ff. ? .This,
then, is the time of His recovery of that great
As to the bride, she is now in unity and completeness. Those awakened are ready (and soon the two sets will be seen, sheep and goats - not two sets of sheep: Matthew 25:1-10). Ungodliness will now be seen as just such a a retarded and unspiritual thing as it is (Romans 11:26). It is in this way, as they go to the 'fountain' in Jerusalem (Zechariah 13 following on from 12:10), now not a mere journeying site for those interested in zeal or for knowledge, but signifying that very Cross of Christ for which it is so famous: that they come to the only place to which one may go. It is then that cleansing comes in Israel, and Paul's hymn of praise (Romans 11:28-36) arises in its impact. It is then that the broken covenant revives, life is restored, the tree is realised, and its branches wave jointly in the wind of divine blessing.
It is indeed to a tree which is still there on earth, that Israel is restored, and in that tree together is their mutuality.
Enemies because of their gospel rejection, as at Paul's time was the plight of the nation of Israel (cf. Romans 10), they yet are remembered because of the patriarchal promises (11:28ff.).God does not RENEGE! The gifts and calling of God are "without repentance" (Romans 11:29). What He lays down in the scope of history, He does. What He promises, He performs. What He eliminates, goes. It is all, not some, of His word which He graciously and reliably applies, and He makes no additions, let alone cancellation of always operable principles. He does not apply philosophical replacements or defacements, the one or the other: but what is written, this He applies.
Now there is parity. How ? The Gentiles were enemies of God, when Israel being faithful, they did not know Him; and relaying the sin of Adam, they continued spiritually anaesthetised to the true knowing of the living God. They were OUT, Israel was IN.
Then Israel fell, Gentiles came to the Gospel which was presented by many, chiefly at first and decisively by the JEWISH apostles, and so the Gentile contingent was IN, and figuratively GRAFTED in, to the tree which GOD created, in which the Jewish people had been resident.
Just - says Paul, as YOU Gentiles were disobedient, and gained mercy "through their disobedience" (Romans 11:30), that is, the Gospel being relayed even when Israel the nation rejected it, so NOW, Paul continues, Israel has become disobedient, that through the mercy of the one Gospel being presented to them by the very Gentiles who were once OUT, they might come IN once again. It is one Gospel, one faith, one inclusion zone, one exclusion zone, one God, one word of mercy, applicable to any, exclusive for each.
Thus ALL, being sinners, are shown up as such; and to all, God being merciful, provides ONE mercy in one glorious principle, one costly principle, shown in ONE Gospel which is the ONE way for ANY (as in Galatians 1). From this, any who depart by plus or minus, so changing it, so far from being a SPECIAL select elect, such as some Israel with new individuality in some new formulation of old things, are merely ACCURSED. This, quite specifically, Galatians REPEATEDLY affirms, starting notoriously in Ch. 1. Israel then has nothing new coming to it; nor has the Gentile. ALL is then fulfilled, the word and the work and the one Gospel which makes Israel, through lack of it, to wail, and the Gentile through lack of it to be all but incredibly defiled (Isaiah 65, Romans 1).
If Paul himself would be accursed if he, a Jew, preached any other, as he states, so would any other Jew who preached any other, at any time, so that if any 'millenial state' imagined, were to have such waywardness, then what would follow ? It is this, and let it be here stressed: such an imagined State, instead of being a special elect, would be especially cursed.
Indeed, the devil will try to bring in, even as the millenium progresses, a new urge and surge, and as you see in the sects, this can take almost any cheeky form and format; but this one Gospel will not budge or alter or suffer accretion or decrement as in Galatians. Indeed, it is in this same Christ in this same Gospel, that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, and all things (Ephesians 1:10) are to be gathered together in ONE in this same Jesus Christ.
Thus the REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY, a useful taunt perhaps to those who imagine that God will NOT honour His promises to Israel (including that in Jeremiah 3:16 where the very sources of Old Testament worship will not come to MIND, and where the sacrifice of a lamb would then, because of Calvary, be as breaking the neck of a DOG - Isaiah 66), moves into realms as ridiculously off-beat as amillenialism. It becomes as far out from the word of God as if, on the other hand, God there forgot what He said in Revelation 20, to say no more. You simply ignore the parameters of the road of faith and holiness, laid down in the word of God, this way or that.
The idea of removing from Israel its carefully painted part in things, both in coming and going and coming back, defined in Romans 11, is as monstrous as that of improving on things, and granting it SOMETHING MORE. This is DEFACEMENT THEOLOGY, which impacts negatively on the Gospel of the Grace of God to all, in summoning special place for some, beyond the promises, moving into premises distinguished and remarkable. Such however is not the case for Jew or Gentile.
Neither Jew nor Gentile has a heady hold on headquarters and pre-eminence or pride, neither change nor moderation being permitted in the Pauline testimony of a complete combination in quality and condition, one coming in, the other going out of the one tree, then returning, dramatically demarcated in Romans 11. What is distinctive is the Gospel, its distinctness as stated by Paul in Galatians intact in its integrity, with no combination, no permutation, no nice little history concerning Gentile and Jew to be created (cf. Galatians 3:28).. If it is imagined, however, then it is in collision with the real romance of unity AFTER their return to the Lord to receive Him as crucified for their sin, as in Zechariah 12:10.
Then Jewish and Gentile believers, they are as brothers, demerits deleted, grace entirely as given, the Lord alone exalted. If He uses Jerusalem in the millenium as a place, it is the place of His crucifixion by Israel and resurrection by Almighty power as a testimony to one and to all, Israel the immediate cause not of the testimony itself, in delighted faith, but of the scope for it, in that judicial murder brought on the sacrifice, and resurrection the assertion of power not only over death, but over sin in the validated Gospel. Focus on Jerusalem with or without the Israeli segment that comes back to the Gospel, is no exaltation of the pardoned party, which simply joins the pardoned Gentiles with nil spiritual capital to add. Grace altogether gives place to any race, and that not because of race, but through that extended to any in any race. There is no aristocracy in heaven, for ONE is the Master and Father, and the rest are all brethren.
It is this same tendency to swing like some ape on a vine, from extreme to extreme, which defiles theology again and again, throughout history, each inventing for its side, some defiling tag, some sour distaste. Yet tags and truth are not as one! The biblical text is one, and a wonder in its harmony ONLY when ALL of it is taken and as in a range of beautiful mountains, seen in its togetherness and in its valleys of beauty.
If, however, instead, this or that component is exalted without regard to the rest of the text in the Bible covering a given issue, then splinters infect, rather than timber adoring. Thus does it come about that the universal principles which are so clearly traced, are ignored, and some symbolism which MUST be interpreted in those terms, is left as if a witless extravaganza, while its message is not applied.
Replacement of Israel by the Church as that land stays outside in the Age of the Gentiles, is indeed a foolish failure to see the specificity of scripture. Replacement of the Church in its 'age', by an Israel which loiters around on earth after the wedding in heaven, which brings ALL the saints back with the Lord, is just as bad, as are likewise protestations of racial or national pre-eminence. If the symbolism of Zechariah 14 is made to continue past its due date, instead of being interpreted as to its meaning by the ineluctable biblical principles of New Testament pre-eminence in the crucified and risen Christ, and there is imagined a return to the obsolete (Hebrews 8:13), that is so much the worse, the more morbid and mordant misuse of Covenantal times and purposes. In fact, Isaiah 66:3-4, in conjunction with Isaiah 49:7, already has made clear that when the ONE sacrifice is finished, ALL others of animal kind, become not only irrelevant, but repugnant.
In each case, what God specifies, man denies. Displacement of what is the overall inclusiveness and exclusiveness of the Gospel in every way, when in fact, the Jew back, the tree being one, it is one for all: this becomes violation of the most fundamental principle. What is a subject of lyrical joy in its massive completion, as of one building from two, one rescued, would become disjoined once more.
The agony of Christ becomes extended, in such a position, His pervasive pre-eminence as all things are gathered together in one to Him (Ephesians 1:10, Colossians 1:17-18, Ephesians 1:19-22), becoming a subject of reversionary recidivism of precisely the type assailed in Hebrews (cf. Glory, Vainglory and Goodness Ch. 7, *2). The Gospel can become obsolete instead of the Old Covenantal symbols (Hebrews 8:13) and the paraphernalia which pointed to Christ can be restored in a gamut of disgrace which parallels the Seventh Day Adventist harrowing of the Day of Rest, so that it falls back to the creation selection, and ignores the greatest work of all of God, from which the rest came with far more agony, that of the Cross.
Indeed, as defacement theology is appalling, so replacement theology is short-sighted, as if nothing can be brought into sharp focus, as in a library, where all the books are but a blur, because of failing to use appropriate glasses to reveal reality through seeing what is actually there. Of these two, the Bible endorses neither, each stuffing the folds of flabby philosophical ideas into the elegant and controlling word of God, and neither doing anything like justice to the entire depiction found there. It is that sad case, of extremism, where tweedle-dum and tweedle-dee fight away, to no point or effect. Textual care is needed, not vaunting -isms, partial and then inflated.
The age of Israel was noted in Romans 11, before their cutting out. The age of Gentiles is noted in Romans 11, in their grafting in. It is simple, profound, explicit, clear, without possibility of confusion or addition or subtraction. It is specified. The restoration of Israel to the tree from which it was cut out is occasion for rejoicing not in diversity, but in unity, not in extensions of what is foregone (Zechariah 11) in blessing, reviled, ruined, blindly ignored in its fulfilment, but precisely in return to the reality which was ignored (Zechariah 12:10ff.), without which there is nothing.
Those are the two authorised phases, stages, and there is the partition. Then it goes, and Paul exults.
THUS the awakening of Israel, removal of its ophthalmic failure, anointing of eyes not only with sight, but with the sight to FAITH of the atoning death of Christ is specified.
Thus Paul speaks of the two phases, Jew in, Gentile out, Gentile in, Israel out, followed by the restoration of Israel, like life from the dead (Romans 11:15), and praises God for the unification following diversity and so the consummatory wonder of the grand plan which having abased all, in stages, Jew and Gentile, then restores all. Will we build another skyscraper on top of the appointed one which is consummatory, in order to exalt the builder ? The builder is God, and here is the end in a unity which only provocation of the divine, can breach.
Now none is proud, or capable of being taking pride in separable specificity of holiness, none higher, each having suffered and learned: for all is restored both to God and to one another in Him, in parity of total grace, with all merit and power, glory and composure of Him, who at infinite cost made this one way to ANY place in His side at all.
It is ONE mercy on all in the precincts of ONE tree, to which ALL come. Thus the exhibit is this: there are two sets of people involved in this symbolically in this one arboreal basis. It has symbolism and reality both, reaching on to the fulfilments of the former in the totality of the latter, as shown so distinctively in Hebrews 7-10, where substance replaces shadow in Christ's atonement. How great is the God in whom are all things, from whom all comes, to whom is glory forever! Such is the spiritual surge witnessed through Paul in Romans 11.
THE LITERAL LITTORAL AND THE SURGING SEA:
EXERCISES IN PRECISION
To try to submerge Israel, when apart and in time to be seen returning, into another name for the Church is precisely, as shown in SMR Appendix A, to ignore context and the precision and distinctiveness of the word of God, and violate definitions in repeated biblical contexts. To make Israel however EMERGE from this exclusion into SOMETHING more or other than the Gospel of Jesus Christ as specified once and for all in Galatians for example, or with more distinctive operating modelling, when all is spelled out with definitiveness completeness: this is as literalist in folly as is the amillenialist allegorical in imaginative insurgence. It is not the literal or the symbolical which is THE interpretation, but as in all literature, the index from context of what is literal and hat is not.
Neither approach as a theory of interpretation is possible in any literature at any time, or comprehension would become a thing of the past. You study the word of God and give yourself to it, not to some philosophy imposed from without.
Almost amusingly, if the allegorical lack of faith, which imposed an idea of non-specificity into poor old scripture, on the part of the godless theories of the Liberals, is back at some distance from amillenialism, then is the impassioned surge of opinion the spoliage of the full replacement theologian, which does not heed the excisions, exclusions and insistences of the word of God on its own understanding. Each must take what is given, where it is given, in terms of the internal principles of scripture, not external formulations, either in reactionary insistences on what is in fact symbolic, or in intrusive assertions, against what is definably literal from the context.
As to the former, it is to add to the word of God, contradict it, ignore the fact that symbol to substance is the movement in this field as specified in Hebrews, and to have all things NOT gathered in one in Christ, but in two. As to the latter, it is to subtract from the word of God, and to ignore that what is definably and precisely imposed in a context, stands.
But we move now to the former, the replacement-displacement problem, giving new realms to Israel's day of grace, for it alone.
It is a ridiculous assertion, founded on excision of principle, as shown above. It is appalling to find such things appearing in Israel My Glory in the May-June 2007 issue. This magazine has done some truly excellent work on Israel, but
in this or any other form
|is merely the
brother in arms of amillenialism,
|and its fight
against replacement theology - a just one in its direction,
definitionally in the context of the Gospel -
|is as excellent in
|as is foolish its
extension of the militancy to make some other Gospel,
|or exhibition of
|some other phase,
some other Israel, some new place for pride and distinctiveness
OUTSIDE the SAME Gospel in the SAME setting for the SAME ONE body of Christ
into which, in being restored to their tree, grafted in again as Paul puts it,
a tree now consummated into its final format, they then come to stand.
What then do we find ?
Let us then avoid the displacement of Israel into the Church in symbols, where the contexts demand this as shown in SMR Appendix A; and thus cease imagining that God has aborted His highly specific promises. That is the just aspect of the war on replacement theology. Let us equally avoid the defacement of the Gospel, and of the specific contextual definitions and terms concerning Israel AFTER she returns to the SAME faith in the SAME tree as base, in the SAME way as the Gentiles found their place. She was a lead in; the Gospel is the finality of Hebrews magnificent emphasis. Gentiles were then led in. Israel in shame and disgrace, eaten up by that same Christ crucified who prayed for those who slew Him, is then led back in. End of story.
No glory is permitted, and the follies of Romanist gloryings in the papacy (as in SMR pp. 912ff., 950ff.), is no exemplar for any follies of coming glory for Israel. NONE is available; only that in the LORD, for NONE shall be glorified in that day, but He (Isaiah 2). All have failed to the point of horror; let us have for pride no tomorrow.
Yet if some do, it is excluded, and the false glory becomes active shame. Meanwhile, as noted, this separatedness for some coming Israel back in, it is all too apt to be a residual part of a flesh which WILL not, even now, repent in oblivion of claim in the wonder of His name, and be content to be in His one body, undefiled by grace's pardon, and guilt's removal. As for any glory BEFORE they are back in, they are defined as BLIND in Romans 11, before this action of the Almighty, and there is no glory in being blind, spiritually. As for any after it, they are then submerged in the Gospel, and though God may indeed act territorially in their defence, and will in His own time do this assuredly (as in Micah 7:15ff., Isaiah 66), there is no spiritual place except IN Christ, nor any change in any part or portion, segment or field in the Gospel.
WHY, Paul queries, did Israel go ? Lack of faith. HOW, did the Gentile contingent come ? Presence of faith. WHAT could happen to some there ? Removal for the same reason that removed Israel, a lack of faith coming into the hearts of some. What then ? Jew or Gentile OUT for lack of faith, AS THE CASE ARISES. Jew or Gentile IN through faith, as the time comes. Into what ? into the same tree. What is the tree ? It is the entirety of the word of God in practical application to live, the living in God on His appointed revelatory nexus. What is the Gospel ? In Christ, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all. To what does the Jew then come ? To that same Gospel into which the Gentile came.
How can this be readily misunderstood by misled minds ? In this way: It may be imagined that the tree IS Jewish and hence they have a better claim. Wrong. It is DIVINE, and Jew and Gentile, used now in this way and now in that, relate as faith operates, to the same tree, in and out, cut and graft, by GOD to GOD's tree.
STEALING GLORY IS PASSE
What is this idea of making the Jew to have another 'go' in some religiously significant spiritual fashion ? It is an endeavour to sequester the tree, as much asking for divine punishment as any other divorce from the ONE reality which Paul is at such pains to identify in Romans 9-11.
Jew and Gentile alike rebelled, alike were used, alike must be humbled, alike must come back, alike must receive what NEITHER in themselves earned, but what EITHER must take as GIFT, the very same gift from God (Romans 6:23, Ephesians 2:1-10). That is the spiritual situation most clearly. If the Gentile then despises the Jew (as in past pogroms and Auschwitz), he does not understand that the Jew has a future. If the Jew in the same period despises the Gentile (Church, refusing to accredit it or credit the Messiah which it centres on in focus), then it does not understand the very God who called the Gentile on the SAME basis to the same glory in the unchanging Lord.
Indeed, Isaiah 30, on the one hand, and 65:13-15 on the other, make it startlingly clear that the Jew has NO claim on God, having forfeited everything, and is ready to inherit cursing, while the servants of God sing and rejoice. The thing is as pointed in contrast as one could possibly be. For ever and ever, says Isaiah, write that this is a rebellious people.
When they return, there is NO credit balance. They are vindicated against Gentile exclusion of their relevance, for God undertook to return them to their land and to the Lord in great and sudden action near the end of the Age; but they are not vindicated against God, before whom they have been a fabulously rebellious people. Their precious individuality has moved to such horrific defiance of the living God that they slew Him and for some 2000 years AS A NATION (only regaining that status in 1948 as predicted, suddenly - Isaiah 66:8), that it is lost as a teaching medium or salient spirituality. It is all one in Christ.
Were the Gentiles better ? Read Romans 1 - by no means. Were they worse ? How would it be possible - killing the Messiah. Did they gain in this then ? They put up idols in their hearts (Ezekiel 14), just as did Israel, and their painfully lapsing theologies were crucifying Christ afresh as much as Israel the first time.
When then ? ALL failed, ALL are brought back, elect from both segments. There is no glory in anyl only the glory of Christ in all. The Gentiles were without God, with a covenant as Paul reveals in Ephesians 2:12, and the Jews forsook the God who had called them. They became an exhibit indeed, in this pre-reconciliation mode, a hissing and a taunt as foretold; and in their return, amazing, sudden, fast, after so long, they again act as foretold. While some try to exterminate them as a people, God has other plans and acts with a vigour correlative with that of the Exodus days! (Micah 7:15ff., Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 66).
When however, spiritually, they are back, the saga of separation is over, and all are one in Christ Jesus. The amillenialist tends to short-circuit the procedure divinely spelt out; the reactionary replacement theologian to add on to what is finally cut off. God however is neither unreliable or subject to human duress, when people ignore His stated principles and insist on this or that mode of interpretation, instead of the precisely contextual in the principial basis provided.
As to the reality however: All fail in all, and all are brought in by ONE who in ONE mercy in ONE unalterable Gospel has made it ONE stage restoration, one stop shop, for all. Glory is in Christ alone (Galatians 6:14), the Lord only, and His vindications are His victories, in which we all participate in the one Gospel of the one grace of the only God.
That is the Biblical depiction. Replacement theology is right in part, criticising displacement of context. It is wrong in part, adding to the biblical exclusion. It is like a car which, being started, on a hill, because of a flat batter, not only goes, but careers done the hill to its destruction. Once the car starts, you have to consult the map, the Bible, and stop when it stops, start when it starts.
Thus we see the see-saw process which in history has been so deplorable in so much. Thus you see the need in this field no less than in all the other cases, to recover the "islands". It is necessary for each divorced and extreme island to come back to the mainland, where reality and principle alike reign, and where literalistic follies, ignoring the means for interpreting symbols GIVEN in the Bible, seem to strut, just as allegorical follies, ignoring the specificity of definition in the scripture in dealing with practical realities, have appear to parade. It is all pride in human invention.
It is all either off the keys of the piano of scripture, playing some guitar of its own, or adding to the octaves, in some new musical instrument of its own.
Let us however return to the scenes and scenario which we were tracing together.
As to "the mark of the beast", the thralldom of Babylon, yes "mystery Babylon" (Revelation 17:5,20:4 and see The Kingdom of Heaven, Ch. 9, pp. 183ff., Biblical Blessings, Ch.2, pp. 19-26 and Barbs, Arrows and Balms 20. pp. 150-152): that great deception throughout the ages, brought to its pustular head in the great tribulation, has ever been rejected by His own, and in her is found "the blood of prophets and saints" (Revelation 19:24). Many are those who have rejected his mark, in many climes and times. Sore is the test at the end, but it is not different in kind, spiritually, from the challenges which went before. The crescendo nevertheless is reached.
War erupts (Zechariah 12,
Then will all the preliminaries have yielded to the ultimates. The set time comes. The elect are removed (I Thessalonians 4, Matthew 24:29-31). The war against God becomes highly express and explicit. Subtlety is past (Revelation , cf. -16).
At that time, therefore, in this great awakening comes the cue for the trumpet call attesting the arrival of the Messiah, now drawing ever closer, the ground better and better prepared in all plan and detail. Soon the trumpet shall sound and the dead be raised incorruptible (I Cor. 15:50ff.).
What CAN be shaken, now WILL be! (Hebrews 12:25-28).
We have dealt above with the "bride of Christ". Now, to change the figure to another Biblical analogy (Romans 11 - see Ch. 3 below), let us become botanical. Thus now, Christian Jew and Christian Gentile in that wisely crafted, multiply grafted single "tree", are brought together with this specifically declared, new and sudden divine access to many in Israel (cf. Zechariah 12:10ff.): gloriously unified, as the apostle exclaims in that chapter, marvelling in the wise combinations and the complexities which yield such unity (Romans 11:33ff.). The divisions of the ages have now in substantial measure been overcome: Gentiles not chosen to be the special people, while the Jews proclaimed the testimony, at first; Jews rejected, as many as rejected Christ, until they should be brought back
a) to their land and
b) to their Lord, while many
Gentiles come to the Lord, with now
c) a large body of Jews in
ISRAEL redeemed from their error,
joined by fellow Christians with rejoicing,
their eyes now opened from what Paul calls their 'blindness for a season":
there. The FAMILY is gathered. The HOUSEHOLD OF FAITH is complete.
It is this which is depicted in the prophetic scriptures, from some two and a half millenia back. God did not tarry in telling; but man has tarried in hearing. Let us reflect then.
THE UNITY IN TRUTH, THE TRUTH IN UNITY
In that great time, the features intrigue.
The "fulness of the Gentiles", the world of other nations, the period
of its hegemony, its headship in Christ, its leadership during the partial
"For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead!" (Romans 11:15).
One does not therefore exaggerate in regaling the expectant eyes with such a sight as this, at which the apostle exults -
"Oh, the depth of
the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His
judgments, and His ways past finding out!" (Romans 11:33).
|Just as "you nations" are to REJOICE at the giant
swath of Jews now converted to their own Christ (Deuteronomy 32:43):
|this being a work in the
essentially indicative of the hearts of Christians in the nations, still therefore
present on earth in number at this epochal change in the heart of Israel,
rather than of a hostile, ruling antichrist (whose hand is at his crisis, over the nations,
who would be one appalled, together with his entourage, at the salvation scene,
and far from able to 'rejoice' at such a development) -
|SO shall this Jewish "receiving" , this Hebrew restoration
SPIRITUALLY (Romans ),
be "life from the dead" () for the balmed eyes of their fellow Christians
among the Gentiles, who are still leavening the world.
The interactive relationship first brings mercy to the Gentiles, scope for reconciliation, then superabundant joy as they return.
"Out of Zion" is their Redeemer (Romans 11:26) who now saves them (exactly as in Zechariah 12:10) through the opening of their hearts by the Holy Spirit, as there attested in their epochal return to the Lord, leading to the opening of a "fountain ... for sin and for uncleanness" in Jerusalem (Zechariah 13:1), "in that day". Their eyes now that any come, and when so many come to such a degree of plenitude, are now open to the fundamental realities of the 'substance' in Christ, and shadows are thus discerned as past. There is NOTHING then left for Israel, any more than for any other Christian in the throng, for some revisionist restoration. The actualities have supervened, and those things, now fulfilled, are obsolete. The principles underlying have been spelt out in calamitous clarity, and shutting the eyes once more, like returning to primary school after a doctorate, is mere folly. All that becomes obsolete as Hebrews announces in Hebrews 8.
It is not gore from war that they now see, but rather the blood for washing (cf. Revelation 1:5, Zechariah 13:1), even that of Him who "washed us from our sins in His own blood"; for only later does the Christ, the Messiah come "with all the saints" (Zechariah 14:5) TO Zion, in a WHOLLY different environment of terms, deeds and impact!
There, in that final Armageddon, war
seethes to an utter outcome amidst the peoples who are not collected by the
Lord (I Thess.4); here, in the awakening of
We were noting, then, that Christ comes with "ALL THE SAINTS", from the marriage feast, and then comes to
HOW do all the saints relate to Him at His coming ? Like this, in the word of God: by being with Him.
In what way, then, with Him ? by
His coming, all the saints with Him, who had indeed as the bride of Christ just
been congregated in heaven (Revelation 19).
IMMUTABLE, INTRACTABLE AND GLORIOUS GOSPEL
(cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms Item 17, The Everlasting Gospel)
So Paul rejoices in the unitary comprehensiveness of the divine action (Romans ,24,31-33). It is not long division but addition; not severance but success; not strange new ways, but the one way of the Gospel, the ineluctable, unimpairable, indivisible, unimprovable, immovable, final and consummate Gospel which rules with one Lord, one faith, one sacrifice, one God and Father of all, over all in Christ (Ephesians 4:4, 3:9-10, Galatians 1:6-9, Colossians 1:19-23). That is the way it is; that is the way it is going to be; and neither hell, nor devil, nor power nor force, nor plan, nor presumption, nor New Age nor Old Age will be able to do anything, anything at all about it.
God is very deep; and His depths cannot be fathomed; but what He says, He does. That is one of the things which is MOST delightful about Him. He deals straight; He acts wisely and profoundly, and does what He says (Matthew 4:4, Isaiah 55:10-11, 42:11, 44:25-26, 45:23, 60:22, Jeremiah 1:12, II Chronicles 6:10, I Kings 8:56, Joel 2:23). The very root of the Hebrew word for truth indicates faithfulness, reliability, stability, soundness, and faithful is His name. He who sat, the Word of God incarnate in Revelation, ready to act in judgment. He has a name: "Faithful and True": - THAT is HIS name! So does this magnificent quality apply in His grace to the saints also (I Thessalonians , II Thess. 3:3).
THIS God, the ONLY true God, HE has said, in Romans 11, He has specified unity and a comprehensive assemblage in the faith, through the faith, with the faith, Jew and Gentile, delivered by One, re-united in One, offspring spiritually of One, starting from One, ending with One, in One gospel and in One grace. Many are left out of both Jew and Gentile; but those who are in, this is the interior into which they come.
Accordingly, to use this supreme integrative force of Romans 11:14ff, climaxing as the chapter ends, to separate what is statedly ONE olive tree, its parts constantly interactive, is like characterising 2+2=4 as a subtraction sum!
|ALL Israel comes thus to Christ (Romans 11:26), the slow drops over the millenia,
and this last vast contribution when the blindness is removed, together making the main,
primary and defined reference which relates to the Jewish people and nation.
as an overflow, as
Isaiah 49:3 shows the ultimate and successful Israel as Christ,
that infinite, intimate Prince of God, of whom the whole Church is His one body
(Ephesians 2, 4, Isaiah 26:19),
there is within the total context of scriptural teaching, an overtone which fits precisely.
Now we have the Jew inwardly and the Jew outwardly all together, now they are IN CHRIST,
becoming composed in one vast new family.
This is the thrust of the rest of Romans 11
in its vast fusing of polis in Greek or Hebrew,
into the metropolis of Christ,
a pan-biblical insistence which in this Chapter,
casts its glory behind it in the biblically defined terms as all Israel is saved.
Children of Abraham, taunted Christ, you are of your father, the devil.
The new Israel NOW comes in the eternal Saviour, the Divine Israel, Jesus Christ,
to take its place in all to whom the victory and the prevailing is given,
in that promised land of Christ, the spiritual antitype in the spiritual vein.
If the land is to unqualified certainty, for Israel, the nation
(Genesis 17:7-8, cf. Galloping Events Ch. 4, SMR Ch. 9),
then the land of faith, the spiritual life, is equally surely divorced,
except on entirely new terms (Isaiah 65:13-15, Isaiah 30, 49:7, Zechariah 12:10),
for the Israel of GOD! as Galatians has it,
entertaining a rebuke to mere racial glory, pertinacity or hope, just as Christ did (John 8).
It cannot be too greatly emphasised
that the certainty of the land equals the certainty of repudiation of all attempt to make
Israel the nation have in the faith, or without faith, alike, a spiritual place that is distinct!
God is as faithful in the one, the territory,
which does not depend in the end, on faith,
as aggressively denunciatory of the other (John 8:37-51),
It does so whether for Jew or Gentile, for in Christ all are one,
and without Him, all are none.
|The tributaries are
distinct enough, and each comes in its own way,
Jew and Gentile, Greek or Briton, to Christ,
the last sudden impact from Israel the nation, being a specific
scripturally depicted effusion of the Spirit (Zech. 12),
as the one Gospel reaches in this late revival, this "rebellious people"
as God calls them and that "for ever and ever" (Isaiah 30:).
Yet when this is done,
there is what is frequently found in the Bible, the merger of all in one Christ,
here involving the literal and the figurative Israels (cf. Galatians 6:16),
the latter the body which actually BELIEVES the Gospel as it is presented
(as in Galatians 3 and 5),
and not as simple racial descendents have it in their cultural, national mind set.
They all come to the same place, the place of grace,
of God as man, the Israel of God Himself, "an Israel in whom I will be glorified,"
Jesus Christ, that servant who did NOT fail, and IN whom
and OF whom all are in the end to be named
in that name above every name (Philippians2).
It is He, who as in Isaiah 41-42,
is focussed and featured as apart from, diverse from,
and wholly disparate in power and purity, from any and all in Israel the nation.
|It is the same in Isaiah
The people, Israel, is exhausted
for there is none to stand in the gap.
Yet as to the Lord, the Messiah,
that Israel His servant in whom He delights (Isaiah 42:1),
in complete contradistinction from the national one,
as to Him who is the covenant Christ (42:6), sent to the people,
Israel's elect being too small a prize,
for Him (49:6): what of Him ?
|He is victorious on the one hand, and gentle on the other,
not even extinguishing the smoking flax (Isaiah 42).
There is an Israel
comprehensive in power,
purity and reliability
who brings forth judgment to truth!
|So is the insistence met,
on Israel the nation being kept in mind
when the context defines thus, a valid point; and then again,
so is the broader context of many passages of the Bible, equally met,
in its thrust, perspective and use of words.
We do not have to sacrifice clarity for allegory with the amillenialist (cf. SMR Appendix A);
or spiritual breadth for 'literal' interpretation , as if ignorant of biblical usage and scope,
as in dispensationalist divagation:
realising that neither literal nor allegorical has any place, except as required by the context:
as in any good writing,
the warrant for meaning being firstly in the passage in view locally,
and then in the word of in its totality.
Here, that is the word of God, the Bible,
in its multi-usage and diverse emphases.
|What then on the components
in the family of grace,
those converted or to be converted, Jew and Gentile ?
|The one does not delete
the other, for each, Jew and Gentile is definitionally distinct;
but when the elect of both are at last found in the Head and Captain of our salvation,
following the removal of 'blindness' from Israel,
both are definitionally Christian and one (Galatians 3:28).
Both now are part of that one Israel, Jesus Christ,
whose benign being stretches over one and all.
|To ignore the
merger and His nature, is like ignoring the tributaries and their natures.
Both extremes need to be modified until the totality of meaning has justice done to it.
Then there is mainland peace, without insisting on
some mode of interpretation from one philosophy imposed,
or some other, by another philosophy exposed.
Thus, distinctness is not only in the coming TO Him, but in the BEING IN Him! The former is diverse in Jew and Gentile; the latter is naturalised into Him, visa and password, whose new seed in regeneration is the same for all, the word of God (I Peter 2, I John 3).
But HOW do all the saints relate to Him at His coming ? Like this, in the word of God: by being with Him. In what way, then, with Him ? by His coming, all the saints with Him (Zechariah 14:5, cf. Rev. 19:14, II Thessalonians ), who had indeed as the bride of Christ just been congregated in heaven (Revelation 19). Maybe there will be more than those who had just been the bride of the Lamb, and "the armies which are in heaven" who accompany Him on His return in power to earth, certainly allows for that (Revelation 14).
Nevertheless, for a work of symbolism, the thought that the fine linen which had just been the distinguishing and distinctive dress of the BRIDE (19:8), should not relate to the garb of the "armies which are in heaven" (cf. Colossians ) would seem so remote as almost to be inconceivable. It is after all linked in Revelation 7:14. In other words, the linkage of marriage feast of the Lamb, to linen of the bride, to washing their clothes in the blood of the Lamb and making them white (Rev. 7); and the immediate sequence from marriage feast with garb of fine linen so fitting for the saints from former explanation in Rev. 7, to the return of Christ with all His saints (as in Zechariah), with the armies of heaven (as in Revelation) seems to exclude all thought of divorce of what God has put so intimately and closely together. The saints then, freshly equipped from their glorious homecoming when called, the dead in Christ arising first as in I Thessalonians 4, come with Christ.
As the twelve thrones for judging Israel for the apostles would seem no less to indicate, they will share with His rule (Matthew 19:28). It will not be other than spiritual, not have a gospel variant, additive, not have other glory, not the a Jew time, but specifically it is a gospel glow time, with the very church apostles judically involved!
Assuredly the form of this earth will pass away (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:6), but the new heavens and new earth, the New Jerusalem, these things are all like everything else in the plan and will of God, in their place. Eternity swallows up time as victory swallows up death (Isaiah 25:8). Whatever the brilliance of the millenial vindication of Christ (cf. SMR pp. 504-515), the eternity of glory will surpass it, wherein those tents eternal in the heavens, prepared for those things as this current remarkable 'clothing' of flesh, has been created for these times, these will be the garb of glory. (II Cor. 5:1ff.). The former things will be remembered no more! (Jeremiah 3:16, Isaiah 19, 65:17), nor will they come to mind. This is wholly diverse from misconceptions that they will be prominent or dominant or functional! As well continue in an obsessive fixation on Kindergarten days, as that! We are to grow up into our Head (Ephesians 2:18-22, 4:15-16), not divide in restless desires for the body of babyhood.
For as Paul puts it, "Now therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit." Nothing could be clearer, and what dearer, nor more dearly bought by "an Israel in whom I am well pleased" (Isaiah 49:3), one from whose face the beard was torn (Isaiah 50), given "as a covenant to the people, to restore the earth" (49:8), so that "by His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many" (Isaiah 53:11), because "He shall bear their iniquities." .
But let us return to the restoration of the king, to the Return of the Lord, and "all the saints with Thee" (Zech. 14:5). Revelation 7 has shown them in their aggregations as they arrive en scène, in the tribulation period, as history is moving in a style that poises on eternity. As to His people, they follow Him wherever He goes! (Revelation 7:17), at which we compare I Thessalonians 4:13,17 which also asserts the same as Zechariah, in the context of His coming for His own, and their being with Him.
Who are these all, then ? Why not less than Jew and Gentile, for all are one in Christ Jesus.
So Paul rejoices in the unitary comprehensiveness of the divine action (Romans 11:17,24,11:31-33).
It is in that way then, its beauty and unity glorious in the wisdom of Him whose ways are 'past finding out' in their depth and wonder, but freely declared at His will, that the Gentiles can rejoice "WITH His people" (Deuteronomy 32:43). This, let us emphasise, they would be far from doing if His church, that which restrains through His resident and present power (II Thessalonians 2) in a hostile world alienated from the life of God (Ephesians 4:18-19), were gone. This Jewish awakening is statedly a spiritual event; His return statedly martial. The TREE to which the Jew is brought back as in Romans 11 is still on site, still ready for the grafting back of a redeemed people from Israel, and the people thus rejoice in this as in life from the dead, as the apostle declares.
The new faith (Ezekiel 37, as it is for the Jews concerned, released and now realised in the New Covenant - Ezekiel 11, Jeremiah 31:31) of so many in Israel (Romans 11:23), what of it ? The Gentiles rejoice with Israel at this development (Deuteronomy 32:43). It would rather to the uttermost be oppressed in any antichrist period, if that were in plenary operation at the time, following the removal of the church's restraint, the Lord being with it! Yet this is not so (Ezekiel 39, Micah 7). Gentile Christians, before the 'wedding' still on earth, would indeed rejoice however! So does the work of God interlace with precision, as it is followed without human 'aid'.
No and indeed, it was to apostles in the Church setting (Matthew 18:15-19) where the apostles are to operate, that Christ spoke (Matthew 24:1-3), in designating the manner and movements to "the end" in answer to this, their question. These who had given up all and followed Him, the Christians, those who asked Him the question: they were told what was to be, and the pronoun "you" indicates clearly those to whom the Lord is referring as He develops the climax in His account of the end, leading to His own return in glory. To whom then does the Christian Church relative to the apostles refer ? Is it to Jew or Gentile ? or is it not to ALL over whom Christ as ONE head has this ONE body, in ONE wedding of ALL His bride!
Concerning the church (Matthew 18:17), He gives current command for His will with His own; and concerning His people, He gives repeatedly, a coverage of what is to be (as in John 15:18-20, Matthew 24:23), right into the teeth of the rambunctious gale to blow in the tribulation.
In the Church, which is His body (the fulness of Him who fills all in all - Ephesians 1:23), there is neither Jew nor Greek (Galatians 3:26-29); and it is to His Christian representatives, that He spoke in answer to their question concerning the last times of the church, on earth, that for which formulation and command was already given (Matthew 24:1-2). Thus His words use to them, the significant adjective "your" , right up to verse 20. HE is telling these things to HIS people with HIS chosen representatives for this HIS Church, HIS one body (He is not equipped with two, for that would not be an incarnation but a multiplication, and He was made "like His brethren" in format - Hebrews 2:9-14). It was "fitting" that it be so, says the word of God.
Indeed, in Matthew 24:verse 22, it is "the elect" as between God in heaven and man on earth, not some of them, that category accordingly which is in view for whose sake the days of the great tribulation are to be shortened, but not annulled (Matthew 24:22) in that great tribulation JUST ANNOUNCED in verse 21! These go. To make partitive what God makes categorical is merely to defile if not defy the word of God. That is why when He returns, as both Old and New Testament straightly avow, it is with ALL His saints, in that very fulness of completion, complementarity and unity of which Paul speaks in Romans 11. It is this which is the result on earth, of the glorious restoration SPIRITUALLY within Israel the nation in one vast swathe swept like grain, into His containment, as the apostle shows, and not some anomalous displacement and division.
In Matthew 24:26, past the announcement of the great tribulation, we even find "you " again is used, leading up to His magnificent, public, undisguisable appearing, His return itself, for His elect (Matthew 24:27-28). The kingdom is one, not two, and the church likewise, one body, one Lord, one baptism, one God and Creator of all (Ephesians 4:4). Accordingly, Christ is not describing something else, but the place of those represented by apostles, moving right up to His manifest appearing like lightning from East to West across the sky (24:26-27). These do not exclude His various and varied accretions and accumulations, but include all.
This coming too is distinguished from any private performance, and is used as a basis for NOT BELIEVING anything such, in Matthew 24:26-27. Indeed, here is the vast spiritual phenomenon of the dead in Christ from all ages and the living, in one total aggregation being brought to glory (I Thessalonians 4). The thought of omitting a segment in such a plenary session of past and present, at His coming, would be like publishing a book, and forgetting it had two volumes. Here is the unremitting divine insistence on unifying summation, and disavowal of divisive dissonance or particularistic partition as in Revelation 5. The crucial issue is Christ, is the New Covenant, is the completion, is all one in Christ Jesus, is God summing up all things in one in Christ (Ephesians 1:10). This is for the fulness of times, as the times of the Gentiles pass (Luke 21:24 with Jerusalem back with Israel), and consummation explodes.
To make all equal some, one of two portions, in these vast settings of introduction to eternity for the people of God, or to make some superior or diversified in racial kind, eminence of location, this would be to add to the word of God in categorical form. Far less would it be so in view of Isaiah 30. Of the partitions of pride or pre-eminence there is in the end, ZERO as Christ made so clear to James and John, and indeed all, in Mark 10's report!
It is necessary to keep within its confines, narrow when they are narrow, broad when broad. If any out of due season oddity come later, this is scarcely the body itself, but merely as with the apostle Paul, some final finding. Yet even that is not sure. It is the totality which is in view in these constructions of the day of glorious recovery of sinners to the wedding of the Saviour to them, and in their recall to Him, the elect, and surging forth with Him, the same saints. Are those to be wedded to lack one summary and conspicuous portion, before all the saints come with Him! (Revelation 19:8ff.). Are brides exported by container ships at various dates!
Lightning across the sky from East to West is of course, and contextually this is emphasised, about as public an event as anyone could wish or describe, as undifferentiated and celestial occurrence as might be even imagined. For whom, then, is this: those summarily referred to as "the elect" - precisely as shown in the olive tree case (cf. End-note 1, in Chapter 3, below), a unified category in the presence of the Redeemer, mingled in common historical site with the Jewish remnant, now grafted back in. The elect and all the saints are correlatives. The olive tree is not in heaven when the Jews come back into it on earth! (Romans 11). Thus the times of the Gentiles are to be fulfilled before the tribulation is well into its finale (Luke 21:24ff.), and before the rapture (Luke 21:34ff.).
Earth remains home for all, well after the Gentile time is finished (21:24). Well before the return of Christ to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:5), the Jewish nation is enlightened (Zechariah 12:19-13:1), in preparation for ALL the saints to come with Him. In His victorious return with His saints, He does not pick up a magnitude more on the way, still loitering in unnoticed wars, and supposedly just converted, but comes with ALL. If there is a saint anywhere, it is with THIS one that He comes from heaven with His armies. When all means some, and bride means arm or leg, the matter might need more thought. As it is, it needs more recognition. The divine movements are swift, decisive, categorical, defined by Himself, as in the creation, which first sets up the nature of time in its 'clock' and then specifies how many of that unit it took to act.
Creation and restoration, creation and confrontation, curse and salvation, bride and beast, all are exceedingly clear. When the act comes, it is sudden; when it is waiting for its time, like actors in the wings, it must abide (as in II Peter 3:9). The day of Christ, said Paul in II Thess. 2:1ff. is NOT impending, and to imagine the contrary was corruptive. MANY things, he proceeded, had to happen first, including the completion of the historical outline of the working of the 'mystery of iniquity'. When however these things cited by Matthew, Mark and Luke come in pattern together, it IS near, and as in the incarnation, God moves from the unseen to the seen in His own unique manner. NOTHING stops it, or dopes it, or qualifies it.
But let us return to Revelation 19, and watch the development as the Lord, who comes with all His saints (II Thessalonians 1:10, I Thessalonians 3:13, Zechariah 14:5 and Romans 11 as above), revisits with His now received bride, the earth which was the scene of His crucifixion. It is macabre, but realistic to the destinies to which men move, that the feast for the birds of prey is immediately subsequent to this blessed feast of the Lamb in heaven; for the abstraction, the removal of His own, Jew and Gentile, for there is no difference in Christ, removes "that which restrains", that is the power of the Lord present and resident in inhibition THROUGH His saints (II Thessalonians 2:7ff.).
There is a WORLD of difference upon their removal to THEIR feast, and there is a world in chaos, left to slug it out in its array, gathered (Rev. 16:14), "to the battle of that great day of God Almighty". It is then that they - "the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies" are "gathered together to make war on Him" who is "Lord of Lords and King of Kings" (Rev. 19:16), whose name is "the word of God" (Rev. 19:13). No embattled host is to be found in Revelation 19, on earth, but a unified antichrist!
Nor yet is His love the less, but rather shown to be the more; for if He KNEW what was the price of folly, then He ENDURED the follies that He might pre-emptively strike out the sin which condemns, and HE DID SO, for every one who believes... and He "would have all men come to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth" (I Timothy 2:3).
We have wound our way to
the end of our era, and beyond, so now let us return to assess our journeys.
Looking through vista after vista of glory:
1) we see the restoration of the land to a
fallen Israel; the conversion of this people in substantial numbers, to the same
crucified Messiah (cf. Ch.
SMR Ch.9); their institution within the
church of Jesus Christ; the consolidation of Jew and Gentile in His name; the
focus on the Lord's faithfulness in restoring and transforming a people so long
spurned with their city - envisaged as the City of Truth (Zechariah 8:3), now
to merge to the millenial case, where "your people shall
be all righteous"
(Isaiah 60:21 cf. 4:3), "a meek and humble people", of whom He declares, "you shall see disaster no more" (Zephaniah 3:12,15);
2) even hearing the Creator's announcement of a new heavens and a new earth (Isaiah 51:6) past all decay, everlasting salvation readily outliving the mere astronomical surrounds, which fall like Autumn leaves, vanishing like smoke, worn like old clothing.
It remains to reflect, while the earth is still here, and we with it, on a great sadness which time will assuredly remedy. It is this, that so many dispensationalists have clung to the esoteric and unbiblical idea of some other gospel for Israel, past or future, or both, destroying the basic reality in Christ (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch.3, and Barbs, Arrows and Balms, Item 17, The Everlasting Gospel), while many amillenialists, justly prizing the spiritual beauties which Israel will share when so much of it becomes a part of the Church of Jesus Christ, with other believers, and which cannot be alienated from all Christians, yet ignore
|a) the decisive scriptures
contextually focussing on and requiring the way the
will honour His name in restoring meritless Israel to their land and later to the Lord,
so joining them with other meritless converts, and
details that vindicate the entire accuracy of the Lord,
and illustrate His inimitable faithfulness
(cf. SMR Appendix A, Biblical Blessings 3, SMR Ch.9, pp. 751ff.)
to this needy and perilous generation.
As in so much, extremes often exist to attest a deficiency in each of the proponents (cf. Questions and Answers 11, pp. 137ff.), but the actualities require great care (cf. II Timothy 2:15), a constant obligation. To "rightly divide" the word of God is a matter of assiduity with ALL the word of God. When all is taken just as it stands, we focus on what is indisputably clear, and show caution in touching the realm of the merely probable inference, so that we may avoid either extending the word of God beyond what He has chosen to divulge, and cramping His revelation to our concepts. The wonder and beauty of the Lord is such that even unintentional befuddling of His word with our proclivities is like putting charcoal on snow.
EXCURSION ON GLORY AND THE MILLENIUM
Isaiah 60 brings into brilliant focus, the emphasis seen again in Isaiah 66, where from the Gentile outreach Levites will be brought in for the 'priesthood', that is, where the New Covenant (as in Isaiah 49-55) will bring an admixture of Jew and Gentile, for supervisory spiritual action (blood sacrifice being now out, since the Messiah has wrought it all, as in 53, and 66:3). In Isaiah 60, the very walls of the 'city' are salvation, a strange building material, except for the temple of I Peter 2, in which the saved citizens compose individual stones.
Indeed, the very gates are to be PRAISE! (Isaiah 60:16), and violence will be unheard of in the land, destruction unknown in the borders.
Thus we have presented, as with the key, quoted of Himself by Jesus Christ (Luke 4), of Isaiah 61:1-3, a saved citizenry of which the city is spiritual, as in Philippians 3:20, where our citizenship is in heaven, so that we sit in heavenly places (Ephesians 1:6 with 2:6), for we are as Paul depicts, "accepted in the beloved".
This is the key to the point of the New Covenant, into which Jewry and Gentile peoples alike are all poured, where saving faith applies, so that there is neither Jew nor Greek in this Covenant, which is final, ineradicable and immovable. In this, it is unlike the Old Covenant which was preliminary, surpassable and expressed in much, in symbols for the Messiah to fulfil (Hebrews 7-10, and in particular, 9:23-28, Galatians 1, Ephesians 1:10). While the special and specific drama of Israel, as traced from the first in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 30-32, is a distinctive, nevertheless this moves in a people STILL OUTSIDE the New Covenant. It is prelude to consummation in the Messiah, in Christ.
Thus, even though it is a people given promises in the Old Covenant, so that these are all fulfilled, yet once inside the New Covenant, and the promised enlightenment of Romans 11:25 in place, they are but Christians. They are neither aristocrats in spirit, nor claimants to special rites (Jeremiah 3:16) or rights! ALL are special, and each one brought home to the Lord has a past, personal, racial, tempestuous, poignant or profound.
Tender indeed is the Lord's kindness to each who comes,
This however is to those brought to the end of
their way and wit and wisdom,
Thus the past is important; each case is
The irrevocable realities of God Himself in
person have forever removed
It is He who instead of yielding to a broken covenant (Zech. 11), IS Himself the
After all, when He is a matter of this,
"Behold your God!" (Isaiah 40:10),
Thus tender reception to the penitent who come in faith is one thing; tenders for other ways, days, observances, rituals, ceremonies, placements where there is not the simple all one in Christ Jesus, and Christ all: these are as costly as death, as spurious as unspiritual, and as ungodly as grace in absentia. Like a locomotive without an engine, it does not go.
Thus the Greek Christians might plead their sophisticated Socratic, Platonic et al background; but this is as dross, vain philosophic meanderings, much as they value it as a prelude (Colossians 2:8), to the truth in Christ Jesus. God has used many in many ways as man has writhed in the torment of non-truth, outside the kingdom and the covenant; but this does not save, nor make man to know God.
The Egyptian Christian might parade the tombs and pyramids, the glory and the riches of the past, but these were in a realm of gods humiliated once and for all in the Exodus confrontation, and that in divine purpose of the most explicit kind! (Exodus 12:12, 14:17-18,25,30-31 cf. Ezekiel 43:12). Egyptian religion was humbled; and in humbling the Messiah, Israel's national 'religion', itself thus in fact becoming a perversion of the gift and a misuse of the grant, Israel humbled itself.
In this way and respect, both nations reached the same abasement.
Israel has certainly been more than a mere preliminary; but has done more with that more, as it descended!
Israel has indeed passed on the book of the Lord and been the human site for the incarnation (Romans 9); but having broken the covenant, and caused its breach (Zechariah 11), it is like a rich kid who 'blew' his resources, and is no better for that!
If the centre, cynosure and King of Israel was so treated, in what way is it better than others! Instead, like them, it is as a nation, out in the ignorance of error, not knowing God (Romans 10), and dark to the Gospel. There is no distinctive glory for it, nor any ground for exultation; though its enemies will again be taught, as they singularise it in hypocritical self-assurance, to attack it. They will be manifestly shown that to touch what God has used and that for which He has hope, and to seek to destroy what He has appointed as part of a plan, though they as custodians spoiled it: this is to find the same power as took Egypt by surprise in the Exodus (Micah 7:15ff.).
This is very explicit, and that repeatedly (Isaiah 66, Deuteronomy 32). When the Gentile world tries at last to humble Israel as if it were vermin or vulnerable, when its very power is gone (Deuteronomy 32:36, Zechariah 14, Micah 7:15ff.), instead of abandoning them, God will deliver them, and vindicated will be the Book of the Lord, to which they had held in distinctiveness, though they failed in its application! This however is divine grace, not place of race. It is fulfilment of promise, which had two phases, curse and blessing (Deuteronomy 27-28), and it is done entirely in grace (Ezekiel 36:22), giving no glory to the ancient people, but all to the Lord Himself who so acted, though so provoked in so much for so long, and did as He had said.
Thus does God fulfil the blessing on Abraham, twofold, in the land to which Israel returns (cf. SMR Ch. 9), and in the Messiah whom it spurns (Isaiah 49:7), who nevertheless comes and is a blessing to ALL nations. He also has fulfilled the curse, for which Israel duly qualified, and shows His own holiness in bringing all to fruition (cf. Romans 11:28ff.)
NO nation, NO race, NO people, NO parade of righteousness is even relevant to the Gospel gate (Romans 3:23ff.), so that none may glory in anything but in the Lord; and seeking special consideration for that gate is the same as asking for a visa to found a Christian church in Iran. There are exclusion zones, and the eye of a needle test remains a stringent expression of the fact that except you lose your life, you cannot enter in: it is lose-life and find it in Christ only, or stay outside (Matthew 16:24ff.). These are not the horns of a dilemma, but conditions of entry.
The SOLE glory is in the Cross of Christ in which the world is crucified to you and you to the world (Galatians 6:14). Penultimate glories are improper, false claimants.
Thus in Isaiah 19, as the chapter ends, we find this lesson taught very thoroughly.
This in no way excludes the majesty of God from portraying before men, the central significance of Jerusalem, where after all, the Lord both died and rose, making it in terms of geography, the site where turned the axis of grace and was made manifest in sublime essence, the power of God. In no slightest sense is this alien to His own vindication in showing in that place, the triumph of grace, in that focus of gallows, the divine mercy through those same gallows.
Thus in the millenium (Revelation 20, Isaiah 65), God rules in manifest might from just that city. Here, in vain is any comparative religion approach, which would make all religions have some point. Instead, it is in this very Jerusalem that God is distinctively glorified: however much Israel misused its vast opportunity in the harsh clowning leading to Calvary, as priests and others pushed Christ into secular hands of mocking Romans, instead of showing the strength of faith. It is here that Christ will rule till all points established in the face of the glowering world of so many generations, before the terrestrial and celestial universe of the grandeur of God's creation, is terminated (Matthew 24:35, II Peter 3). This world and its works, all, it is burnt up as Peter declares, and Paul shows in other respects, in II Thessalonians 1.
Micah 4 makes this millenial majesty manifest. So does Isaiah 2! Not only will the invading armies, seeking the neck of Israel, now returned (as in Ezekiel 38:1-4), be repelled in magnificent and divine might, as Micah also tells us, but the final peace of the redeemed in Jerusalem, where the very walls are salvation, will be that in a city of significance. Here now is seen a refurbishing, not of pre-eminence of a nation which misused its grace, but for those of that and any other people, who being Messiah-ans, Christians in heart and spirit, relish that one Lord! In that day, the Lord alone will be glorified, as He states in Isaiah 2.
Here are those who are Jews indeed (Romans 2:29), that is children of Abraham in more than genes (Galatians 3:29), and in this transformation and demonstration of the power and glory of Christ (cf. Revelation 5), they find ground for worship itself! Israel will not only not be wiped out, it shall be inhabited (Zechariah 12:6), even IN Jerusalem, in the most obviously literal manner, and the race of the Jew will NOT be extinguished for all the Gentile lust, heavy in hypocrisy, rife with cruelty (cf. Matthew 24:34, Deuteronomy 32, Isaiah 51:19-23).
Thus does symbolic index, and physical fact, thus does New Covenant grace and promise alike find fulfilment inside the divinely enunciated principles of glory and grace.
It is not in glorifying any people or race (Isaiah 2, quite expressly) that God moves, but in glorifying the Saviour in His place. Thus having used one race, and had it fail monumentally, by grace He first brings it back to its land, and then leads it back in large measure, to Himself (Zechariah 12:10). It is then, humbling it to the same level as He did the Gentile world, with the same Gospel granting no glory, but only exclusion through sin, that all find not only the one salvation (Ephesians 4:4), with glory resident in the Lord alone, but the power of God fulfilling His word.
It is thus in Jerusalem, city where the ghetto
was the apportionment for Christ, that is the glory of Christ, and there reigns
that King on this earth, whose apostles indeed will not be scum sent off by
invidious rulers, themselves treacherous before the one God, but rather
appointed in place for all to see (Matthew 19:28).
Thus Jerusalem, excoriated by the Lord (Isaiah 29), will yet glorify Him; and Christ, denounced in Jerusalem by Roman and Jewish authorities, will be exalted in Jerusalem, and He will be the peace (MIcah 5:1-5).
EVOKING THE END
TOWER OF POWER
The Messiah in Zechariah
As we move now to the last four chapters of Zechariah, there is a sense of the sheer power of the Tower which is Christ, whose Spirit inspired the prophets of old, giving them vision. We learn that as they quested for understanding of the time, He was showing them that it was not for them, but for another generation that they wrote concerning the sufferings and subsequent glory of the Christ; and indeed, it has been to the whole Christian generation (cf. Psalm 22:31), far down the chute of time, that these things would apply (I Peter 1:9-11),
What then is to be found in these particular chapters of Zechariah ? ...
it is all there.
It is a privilege of a high
order to look at this topic in these closing chapters of Zechariah, so please
join me in the delight. It has the liberty of the vast waves of the sea, the
stability of the rocks on which they hurl themselves, the reality of the
oceanic scene as one regards it, and the spray of refreshment upon the face,
naked to the heavens, looking on what He has done ... but in this case, as
written BEFORE He did it!
THE DIVINE CONCENTRATE OF THE EVANGEL,
THE CORE OF THE BEAUTY
In Zechariah 11, we come to a new vignette, in one sense, for it is a sudden transfer from future blessing (Zech. -12) to the intervening agony. In another aspect, it is an intensification of what was shown in Zech. 10:2-3, before the predicted intervention with divine shepherding skills, to protect and deliver the people of the Lord.
To what, then, do we soon listen in Ch. 11 ? It is to this.
"There is a sound of wailing shepherds," we read (11:3). "Their glory is in ruins!"
Indeed, "the pride of
With tragic disgust, the divine
word indicates that to
Dismissing the bonds of sustenance, breaking the Staffs, the shepherd implements, of Beauty and Bonds, He breaks the broken, and does not heal the breaches. The full force of the covenantal sanctions now come into play. We recall at such a moment the momentous words of Jeremiah in : "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule by their means, and My people love to have it so. But what will you do in the end of it ?" It seems a pity here that for some unknown reason the NKJV omits "of it". There is part of the incomparable flavour of the matter. It is not merely a reference to coming to an end of yourself at the end of your foolish way. It is far more. It is coming to an end of a way which has no continuance: it faces a precipice, and the momentum is ready to carry the people over it.
This syndrome is by no means finished!
But what has led to such an extraordinary finality ? Immediately after announcing this breach (v. 11), the Lord evidently images a virtual conversation. It is as if He is addressing some of these intriguing and corrupt leaders, as the passage of history comes to its most pivotal phase. "If," He is depicted as saying (in effect, in spirit, to the point),
"...'if it seems agreeable to you, give Me My wages; and if not, refrain.'
"So they weighed out for My wages, thirty pieces of silver."
It proceeds to describe a hand-picked, dynamic disciple of evil, for the new 'shepherd' in the midst of their desolatory decadence is now revealed to our eyes (-16).
"Throw it to the potter" here has a double reference. First, it appears that "the potter", some meaningful, some famed, clear, topical or previously announced party is to be the recipient of the 'wages'.
Let us look
then, first to the POTTER, and secondly to the WAGES in understanding the
purport of this passage of the prophet's writings" Zechariah .
1) "Cast it to the potter!" Where might such a notable and indeed famous illustration be found in the word of God, especially not too far from the events of Zechariah ? It is in fact, in Jeremiah 18-19 that these considerations are aptly met. There is reference, first, to some nearby potter in
, whose work in making a product, is related to the Lord's in making man or nation: his pottery creations are made comparable to the Lord's work on the heart and life of man whom He has made. Jerusalem
This is then followed by the taking of a pot from the hand of the potter, in presence of the elders, and breaking it in their sight: and this is presented, this practical imagery is wrought in the midst of a message on the coming breaking of
. "I will make this city desolate, and a hissing" - 19:8. It is hence a potent and evocative symbol: the potter, the pottery, the smashing. Jerusalem
As we shall see, the potter reference is moreover both in Jeremiah and in Zechariah used in similar ways, concerning successive events of a similar kind. While the latter is more crucial, the former gives the basis for its meaning. It is an escalating disaster, cumulative and catastrophic in the end of it. The first, we see, is the loss of the city (Jeremiah); the second is their loss of their King (Zechariah), and all that this implies! Savaging the Saviour is not a wise movement of the human spirit, popular though it be to this day, in the heart now, as in the hearth of the land, then (cf. Hebrews 10:29ff., II Peter 2:1ff.).
Before however this first tragic result is announced in Jeremiah 19, there is in the preceding chapter the appeal:
- "Behold, I am fashioning a disaster, and devising a plan against you. Return now every one form his evil way, and make your ways and your doings good" - .
The preceding text emphasises this, that God is ready to divert His anger, to anoint His people, to pardon, if only the people will turn from their evil. It is in Ch. 19 (as often in Jeremiah before this) that the essence of the evil is unfolded:
- "Will a man leave the snow water of
, which comes from the rock of the Lebanon
field ? Will the cold flowing waters be forsake for strange waters ?
- Because My people have forgotten Me, they have burned incense to worthless idols, and they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways, from the ancient paths, to walk in pathways and not on a highway, to make their land desolate and a perpetual hissing; everyone who passes by it will be astonished..." - 18:14-16.
Nor is this all. The apostrophe to
starts in Jer. 18:13: "Ask now among the Gentiles, who has heard of such things ? " It then itemises the above indictment! Israel
Certainly this is a famous, a dramatic, an inescapable part of the recent heritage of the nation, flashing verbally, prophetically incisive and historically portentous, now by the time of Zechariah, wholly fulfilled!
The first result of our excavation, then, is this. The casting to "the potter" means, from the parallel, that there is a denial of the faith, of the LORD Himself which on other grounds in the Zechariah context, we have already noted to be the case. It is the denial of His own incarnate Person, the rejection of His amazing and oft-predicted coming to earth as the Messiah, using the line of David and the tribe of Judah for the human format (as in Isaiah 11). It is the denial of their King (cf. Zech. 9:9, 12:10).
This meaning in Jeremiah, and the contextual force in Zech. 11 are thus identical, confirmatory each of the other.
It appears that we should find a further intimation: that as Jeremiah (32) is given order from the LORD to buy a field, despite the imminent invasion of Jerusalem and Judah, one predicted to bring destruction, and indeed lodges the title deed of his purchased land in an earthen vessel, that this is an index to the fact that Jerusalem is to be restored to Israel, but ONLY AFTER DESTRUCTION. This of course is clearly depicted in Jeremiah in direct, literal terms, which is correlative attestation - as in Jeremiah 31:15ff., and indeed in Ezekiel, an adjoining prophet historically, dealing with parallel points very frequently, and with the same assurance (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch. 1, SMR Appendix A).
This series of interlocking references thus produces the brilliantly subtle, but spiritually plain result, elsewhere depicted in so many ways.
Thus, the casting of the price of the Messiah to the potter, predicted in Zechariah 11, gains its necessary meaning from the Jeremiah incident, with the potter, linked through the purchase concept, to Jeremiah's own buying of an apparently hopeless investment in a field, in a city, yes even in Jerusalem. This city, by his own prophetic word about to be destroyed and invaded, evokes firstly, but not only, the coming destruction of
at the predicted epoch likewise, even that in which the covenant broken in the sale of the King, Himself as in Zech. 11:12-13, pierced (Zech. 12:10). Jerusalem
Exposed and vulnerable, they are lost: void of their covenanted king, they first endure the fruits of their exposure.
The Jeremiah reference is crucial testimony, because of this facet, to the fact that the purpose of casting it to the potter, in Zech. 11, is at once a redemptive payment (the parcel of land was in fact redeemed by the prophet) and a devastating attestation of the coming judgment. Indeed, in view of its historical and explanatory context, this verse in Zechariah MEANS casting it for the field, which is the only purchase for which a price is required in this Jeremiah context, associated with punitive destruction and eventual hope.
It is this which the potter case symbolises so expressly. Hence in Matthew 27:9-10, the primary force of the Jeremiah references is ground for the use of this name as source, since without it nothing to the point of purchase is explained in the case; but the Zechariah reference, though similar in much to the citation, is not so in the crucial point of the word 'field'.
In Matthew’s context, it is merely ancillary in force. It is thus THROUGH Jeremiah that the here relevant point comes, even though it is also in Zechariah that the application is made.
Thus, as in Jeremiah, so in Matthew, the reference is to the payment for the field being made, whereas in Zechariah, there is a casting of the money. Without Jeremiah, the potter reference is left in mid-air; through him only does it gain meaning. In that meaning, there are thus two elements. In Zech. 11, the potter element evokes the destruction coming and the hope residual, as in Jeremiah, and the payment evokes the allied Jeremiah attestation, wrought in purchase of a field.
Without both of these aspects, there is no meaning to the rendering of money at all. With them, all is clear, and accounted for.
As in mathematics, so in literature where symbolism is involved, you have to search out the defining criteria, and then make application.
Matthew is stressing the payment aspect, Zechariah for his part, having prophetically provided the amount and the sense of disgust in the casting. It is the payment however which is Matthew's concern, and it is terms of this allusion that he makes his reference.
In Sum, to the issue of Matthew, then: The prophecy in view for Matthew is hence attributed as coming through him who lists it, namely Jeremiah. If its detail is filled in by another who is not named by Matthew, its point is provided by the one cited. Were it named, then the point might be lost in the detail. It is moreover literally true that it came through Jeremiah, relative to the point at issue. He and he alone specified the point of the payment. Its further particularisation is not his topic here.
There is however more to be gained from this signal series of prophecies.
Indeed we shall soon see to what a magnificence of spiritual magnitude Matthew’s mode of citation leads us! (cf. Romans 11). It is like a road of access to a highway.
Jeremiah 18:3-7, at the very outset of the episode with the potter, depicts the potter having a marred product, and then remaking it. Cannot the Lord do so with a marred
, comes the dramatic query! This, in the context of the chapter of Jeremiah, leads on to a spiritual appeal to the people, before the devastation proceeds. It appeared that they would insist on being broken, but God would insist on their being restored! So it was, and so their provocation proceeded "till there was no remedy" (II Chronicles 36:16). Israel
Thus the potter is the expression both of disaster and hope, and the field is the expression of assurance and faith, trusting that to follow the devastation, is the restoration. How would Jeremiah actually bring himself to PAY for a plot in a city about to be removed from Jewish control, a devastation about to ruin the very point of population, and at that, for some 70 years as predicted (Jeremiah 25)! However the Lord was as sure of the coming destruction as of the later restoration. So in Zechariah, the use of potter and field not only evokes Jeremiah, but the joint illustration which each bring, of judgment followed by hope, of loss followed by redemption.
In parallel, in the very tragic enactment of these things in the context of the Messiah, there is also an implicit appeal, which has continued through the centuries, and to this day. It is judgment or salvation; the former certain, except for the latter. What is a series of challenges for a time, then becomes a certainty IN its time, the destruction of this world, the judgment of its unrepenting denizens and the restoration of a millenium earth, followed by the utter reconstruction, a new heavens and a new earth.
The parallel proceeds. As a few came with Ezra to rebuild, so a remnant only will go there for a city suitable, which has foundations, whose builder and founder is God!
But let us return to our immediate context in Zechariah. If in Ch. 11 we see these portents and predictions, in Ch. 12 we see the specialised repentance of heart for many in
, at a season of desperate warfare and enormous pressure for that nation. Israel
Soon, now in history, as then in prophetic sequence, it will be fulfilled in a restoration of heart and spirit to many of this straying people in their own land (Zech. ), for
shall be inhabited again in her own place - Jerusalem
" (12:6). Jerusalem
Many heeded the call to repent at that time of the Messiah the Prince on this earth, Jesus the Christ, so that whereas the city was lost, destroyed indeed, the souls were then won, even as thousands of Jewish people started the Christian Church as a populous body. Then the city as such rejected Christ to its devastation; but in the prediction of Zech. 12, the city is sustained, the people repent in a major thrust, and they look with mourning on what they - or their nation - had done.
In this, it is so spiritually important that there be a vast repentance, severing spiritually from the former folly of the city, of
, in killing its king. It is here that not devastation and destruction, but deliverance and the glory of the Lord comes, even in Person, even to Jerusalem, even the Mount of Olives, even to rule (Zech. 14:5, Psalm 2), as formerly to suffer redemptively for all who are to come. Jerusalem
If then even in the very teeth of judgment impending on the city, many came in Christ's day, there is to be another ending. As the Age comes to its conclusion, now in the midst of martial trials and invasive thrust, many more will come as predicted, and the Lord will then in His time, come in glory, to rule in the sustained city: and in what fiery contrast is it now to the first, the day of its visitation (Luke 19:42ff.); for now, the scene figured is of repentance. This end is glorious; this scene is majestic. Here is the return of the Lord, once smitten, to rule. That is the message of Zech. 12 and 14.
Let us however look back to Zechariah's day, and see the scope of his prophecy!
The rejection of the Messiah to come, is predicted, even as the Jews of that day were rebuilding the ruined city; predicted likewise were the assaults on the Jerusalem to be at the end of the Age (i.e. just before the Lord comes back, in the flesh, as in Zech. 14:5, and Matthew 24 and Acts 1). The repentance for that rejection is predicted, and it is predicted to be NEAR the END of the AGE of the Messiah.
It is all predicted, all being fulfilled, little being now left of this profound case study in mercy and judgment, magnificent offer and miserable rejection. The rest of the world has imitated
in much; but the mercy continues to one, to all, for the time being, as it continued for a little in the days of Jeremiah. Then, for the city, the end came. Then, in our day, for the world, the end comes (as in Matthew 24:12,22 cf. Romans 11). Israel
was lost then, so when the end comes, will the world face its own ruin, which is daily drawing closer, like a torpedo on target for a ship, leaving an impressive wake of signalled events as predicted (Cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5). This time, in the end, it will be the setting of the whole world which is lost, as Jerusalem was then; and just as Jerusalem was nevertheless then restored, after its 70 years, so will be the world in the form of a new heavens and a new earth, when the old is very certainly, very physically destroyed (II Peter 3, Isaiah 51:6). Jerusalem
But the world ? What is that ? and
, it is a significant city within it. Soon, both will be gone, and a new heavens and earth, fitting for the Messiah, His munificent divine gift to the people of God from all races, will proceed (II Peter 3). It seemed odd for Jeremiah to buy his field then, in view of the doom; but it was not only symbolic, but justified on their restoration. So to many, it seems odd to receive the redemption in Christ (though it is HE who has paid, yet they jib at the realisation of being purchased cf. I Corinthians 6:20). It is however both necessary and wise. It is HE who continues, and HIS will which is done, and HIS creation which is restored, and in HIM is mercy and peace, and HIS is the glory and the praise. His is truth, mercy and grace. Jerusalem
Let us now, having noted this end of the matter, return to our immediate occupation in Zechariah 11-12. Just as the death of the Messiah was ... wrought, so His resurrection was indeed the 'first fruits', the expression of the mercies to follow. Thus, in perfect harmony, in Zech. 14, after all the treachery and the piercing which was the mode of His death, we find Him vitally exuberant in strength, His very feet coming to rest on Mt Zion, the triumph imparting to the follies of the past, the sombre realities of just and due sovereignty, which however, while fatal to the enduringly wicked, is blessed and benignant to all who seek Him (Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Psalm 2).
Thus hope shines in the midst of horror, and the field aspect in the prophecy in emphatic depiction in Matthew, is likewise an annunciation of expectation when the horrors are past; for did not the Lord restore Jerusalem, and will He not have pity on His people again; and indeed, even restore Jerusalem again (Luke 21:24) in its time. The detail of THAT saga is intriguing and delightful - see SMR Appendix A, and The Biblical Workman
1, *3 and Ch. 3 *1. Ch.
Yes, and in the interim, what a burdensome stone this city of destruction has become. As it was predicted to be ready for destruction in Christ’s day (Luke 19:42ff.), so is the very antipodes of expectation, as His return draws near. For now, it is predicted to become not a nonentity, but an intolerable trouble to the harassing Gentiles! This is the very opposite of the days of Christ, and the result is the very opposite, not His departure to glory, but His return from it!
Glory has the last word in God’s works, for He IS glorious. If He is left for ever, then this is not glorious, but with Him, the end is glory. And who insists on severance ? who would have His loss, as if this were gain, to lose what is the source and the splendour, the truth and the righteousness, in order not to repent, and to enshrine oneself in the coffin of carnality, of mind, spirit, body, self-assured, or victimised by folly.
Nothing is hopeless when the Lord is there, however; and it is precisely the mood, the psychological and indeed spiritual mode of hopelessness which, being the enemy of faith, is the wolf at their throats, intolerable to God, lethal to themselves (Jeremiah 2:25).
- "There is no hope! " they said,
- "No, for I have loved aliens and after them I will go";
- "Yet you say, 'Because I am innocent, surely His anger shall turn from me.' Behold I will plead My case against you..."
Who will remould what is perfect (cf. Isaiah 42:18-20) ...
"who is blind as he who is perfect" ? And what perfection is this which aborts both itself and the facts.
It is however not uncommon: it was thus then, it is thus now. So the money is cast to the potter. The wages to stifle redemption add to the cause of conflagration and subtract from the provision of comfort.
Zechariah summarises and particularises. The base however is Jeremiah, from whom the issue arises, as source and signaller. The case is a profound parallel to the Gentile present, for it is now they also who make a present of His presence, and setting at nought His presents, present themselves to themselves for their own world, which is passing now, as was Jerusalem then.
So much for the first of the aspects of "cast it to the potter". The second is far more important, though the former has implications which give it an importance of its own.
2) "A Princely Price they set on Me!"
Second, it is clear in Zechariah's prophecy, that someone is going to treat the LORD in some exploit for which 'wages' might seem fitting, hence treat the Messiah, who alone could conceivably be in such a position, as a human amongst others (as in Zech. 6:12ff.), with a financial form of contempt. With a profound laser like beam of light in the darkness, it is made manifest that there is so vast a disparity between that for which 'wages' are to be paid, and the amount paid, that it is a sublime insult. Conceived in blindness, it is executed with folly and received by the Lord as a mountain of vileness lodged in an abyss of faithlessness so great that the one and the other are in consent with death. The covenant is broken (Zech. 11:10-11).
The 'wages', this financial format for betrayal, for derogation, that He might be despised and rejected of men to the uttermost (as in Isaiah 53:3), these constitute is as keen an edge as could conceivably have been placed on derogation of deity, a cachination of corruption, against His Person, His work and His witness. It is Majesty apprised by the market, blind with its greed, self-righteousness and indifference, ablaze with dark light, an horrendous inferno, like creeping lava.
Thus in Zech. 11:7-14, the sardonism reaches to irony, and the irony to wrath so carefully controlled that it is as an operation is in play, the words slicing through the obesity of dead hearts, lipo-suction at work with vehemence. The words are designed, it seems sure, to awaken if it were possible, the dead to what they do; and now of course, it is to what they have done. Perhaps some of this will be effective at that great predicted time when what they sold will be mourned, and what they pierced will be repented of (as in Zech. 12:10ff.).
National solidarity continues in the failure to recognise the Saviour, and it continues in the people theocratically committed to His reception (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). That the Gentiles mimic the action in the degradation of once great churches at this day, does not mitigate what was done, or minimise the need for repentance. To this Zechariah comes in the next Chapter, the twelfth.
But for what particular act is the Lord to be given these appalling wages, so presumptuous in concept, so spiritually illiterate in performance, so empty in mockery ? It is of course the work of the Good Shepherd, in contrast to that of the false ones, for is it not written in 11:7, "so I fed them", and has not Zechariah already shown us, as we saw in Ch. 7, in comparison with Ezekiel 34, as seen in Ch. 6, above (cf. Zech. 9:16-10:3), that this was to be!
This 'feeding' which incorporates all they really need, and hence the atonement, as in Zech. 3:9, reflected in 12:10, is nothing less than the output given, the effort made on the part of the Messiah, in bearing the sin, and coming as man, as 'the Branch' to do so, so vividly expressed in Zechariah 3:9, 6:12ff. and 13:1.
FOR THAT, the price is 30 pieces of silver ? It is like offering 2 cents for Manhattan Island, only infinitely worse: for that will God, but as to God, He remains (cf. Zech. 9:7); and that is imperfect, but His perfection is unsullied.
At once obvious is all the reticulation of ridicule in Zech. 11:10-15, noted above. At once, the ground for sudden, absolute severance of the covenant, is apparent.
- They have lost the blood cover since they are covered with blood, the very blood of the atonement which was despised (shown in 13:1), and which is nevertheless NECESSARY.
This does not remove God's unconditional commitment to the entire scope of prediction of
, since His work is something that He has said, and will do, as also noted in Ch. 6 above: but it does mean that there is no thread left of deliverance from sin, pardon by blood. They hung in their arrogance and sin, by a thread; that thread is now severed by the crucifixion, a robust act of rebellion, most adequate for the purpose! The ONLY blood now relevant (as in Isaiah 53, 66), is HIS OWN. It is this which has been contemptuously treated. And indeed, has He not been subjected to scheming political and religious cunning, the height of provocation and the depth of deviousness, to GET RID OF HIM. Israel
Such scheming was apparent in priestly dealings at the end of the Maccabean period, and this continued till its outcome in intense and intensive corruption placed Christ on the gallows instead of the throne.
In what sense however, one may ask, are the 30 pieces, associated with His predicted betrayal (concerning which see Joyful Jottings 25, for the Old Testament prophecies outside the present one), or in what sense is this a wage ? for Him ... In fact, in tracing out the way in which this is fulfilled, we observe in the Gospels that Judas was the 'treasurer' for the disciples in the service of the Lord. He kept the bag and stole from it.
Thus when he took yet more funds relative to his 'group', a payment of 'goods' which included Jesus, while receiving his name and place from Him, there is a sense in which Judas is receiving more formal funds. The treasurer notes the increment in financial resources for his clan. Very good. In an audit, he might indicate that the special character of their leader led to this extra payment, on the part of those willing to pay for action relative to Him, so that it appears in the accounts as a financial credit.
Had not Christ then 'earned' this wage, and was He not paid for His performance, which included the Cross ? This, it is wages.
The satire is contained, and the more piercing for that very reason!
The result, an evil shepherd, is a form, if you want to preserve the irony, of 'congratulation' on their choice, focussing the fruit of their 'wisdom' ( Zech. 1112. cf. I Cor. 1:21-25).
THE ALPINE AZURE,
AND THE CELESTIAL MOVEMENT TO CONSUMMATION
The breach is open, the
wound is sore.
What is to occur when, still unworthy (as in Ezekiel 36:22), the people are brought back from so many lands, never more to roam (37:23ff.) ? Dismissed, they are back. Despoiled, they have been restored to their place. What now ? and what next ?
In Zechariah 12, in other
words, we see the next stage after the ruin, the dispersion and the sanctions
The vast perspective is introduced by a soaring ascription (Zech. 12:1):
"The burden of the word of the LORD against
"Thus says the LORD,
who stretches out the heavens,
lays the foundation of the earth,
and forms the spirit of man within him."
We are, therefore, quite evidently about to be presented with revelation for which that is a suitable introduction. It is rather like being shown telescopic pictures of distances realms of space, before undertaking a voyage to Venus. We are being prepared.
Now we see some of that
unfading faithfulness by which the Lord both fulfils His word to Abraham (cf. Galloping
Events Ch. 4), and His vengeance on
What then is this
revelation to which Zech. 12:1 is the majestic introit ? We find, as we address
this next chapter, the twelfth, that now
The vileness of her
violence against the Messiah, so gravely charged, and with such acuity, in
Zech. 11, has not ceased to exist, nor has it been pardoned as yet, as this
chapter commences. Instead,
What then is the fresh development in Zechariah 12, following 11 ? What new tableau is presented to our fascinated eyes ?
It is this.
On the contrary, she is burdensome, like a heavy stone, an oppressive reality in the midst of the minds and might of her assailants. In fact, not merely is she to be a problem child to the world powers which want to dispose things, as seen in Zech. 12:2-4: she is "a cup of drunkenness" to them! This implies securely that her nature and place, her history and position, all, together with her endeavours and (as in Isaiah 66) sudden restoration, will alike grieve the godless, and upset the exponents of false prophecy. Who are these ? They are the sort noted with contempt by the LORD, in Isaiah 44:24-26, when observing the futility of their promises and premisses, in contrast to the reality of the Lord, who IS the truth, whose word bows to nothing and to none (cf. Isaiah 43:13).
Why then is she not yet broken ? It is of the Lord. There will be yet more and more sophisticated efforts (as the comparison of 'little horn' mark I and 'little horn' mark II implies, expounded in Biblical Blessings Ch. 2, With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength Ch. 8); and an establishment is still to be expected in some little distance from the Mediterranean; but she will not be overrun (cf. Daniel 11:45).
Who are those specifically
who are to suffer in this confrontation or shall we add, imbroglio, interview
or concern with
It is all theft of what God
has given to her (and in fact, of what both
EVEN IF "all the nations
of the earth are gathered against it" (Zech. 12:3), still it will be formidable, and not like a
worm for the beak of the early bird, so much as a wound for the arm of the
slayer! (Zech. 12:3). Lie down or die down, say the sensitive nations, the exponents
of new international relations! The Lord does not have it so. Just as the Lord
was a stumblIng block to
There are two lessons available.
1) She can learn, as has been clearly pronounced, though in subtle terms, by Arab power, that there is something WRONG (in their view) with the way she is treating Israel (or rather WAS treating that country, by a measure of support for her afflictions, just as she has given a varying but real measure of support to Taiwan since the 1950's, in the face of her assailant from the mainland). The 'lesson', In other words, is this: Cool the help, reduce the aid, let 'events take their course' as many nations with oil wealth invest her premises and divest her of this and that, if not indeed of all life whatever, if they are able.
That is ONE potential lesson.
2) The other ? It is this. Deal justly with
, recognise terrorism, as Hilary Clinton rightly did in her recent visit to Israel , as terrorism; and add THAT terrorism to the list, if you have a list. Israel
lesson is to be learned by the
Would there be a response
from the celestial site where it matters ? Concerned for the
It would at least appear
that there was such a response, as on
But what of all these
turmoils and embroilments, confusions and effusions, difficulties and troubles,
seeming insolubles and irresolvables in and about
That, it is the nature of prophecy, the very scoop of the universe, unparalleled, in simple fact, without equal, observationally, with no peer, empirically. The world goes on learning its modicum of science, and changes the word of yesterday, today; but the word of God goes on changing in only one thing, the world and its history, its people and its agents, as whatever it says, comes to pass. In terms of scientific method, it is incomparably better, needing neither revision, nor review, and providing only empirical confirmation of its ascription of its words to the possessor of eternal wisdom, knowledge and power.
His name ? The Lord. There is (as a simple matter of historical fact), no other name to equal this one, no other power to compare, and no other performance worthy even of consideration. That, naturally enough, and supernaturally, is precisely what you would expect, and constitutes, apart from the particular, the generic of verification: it is verification in kind, in quality, in calibre, in depth as well as in detail.
What is often forgotten by
the nations, with their notions and potions, lotions and commotions, armaments
and increments, dissipations and situations, is just this, that THE LORD has a
mind and will of His own, and that it is not possible to outwit Him,
outmanoeuvre Him or make Him desist: unless of course you are on a course of
evil, and turn to Him for mercy. This world is not destined to learn that
lesson as we see in Revelation 19:19. It will actually dare to defy Him. So be
it. Some will however learn of Him whose humility is so great that He came "lowly and
on an ass's colt (Zech. 9:9). Among those, are many of
The Lord ? He has His own
counsel, and works ALL THINGS after that counsel. Moreover, He declares the end
from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10 cf. Ephesians ). Thus when He declares in Zech.
12:4 that He will turn the martial assaults on
When therefore Kofi Annan thinks that the 'new' peace initiative from Abdullah of Arabia, as it is euphoniously, indeed euphemistically called, is important, that there must be work and so on, does he consider what it is and what the Lord has said ? Whose word shall stand, that of the Almighty or that of the UN, so appallingly insensitive to the returned, subjected people, of Israel, with their one site, so eroded that even a gangster might be ashamed, by the side of the Islamic world, which wants more, and more ... and gives for armaments for rebellious occupants of some of Israel in their endless terrorism, but not land of their own for their resettlement.
As to that, who needs to be resettled ? Only those who want to take over Israel or part of that pitifully small portion of Palestine accorded in fact to it, to kill, maim and explode themselves on its terraces, pizzerias and among its flowers, flesh flung like dung in indifference to the casualities! Those who want to remain as citizens, with provision for liberty of thought and worship, as the original Balfour Declaration implied, what hinders this ?
What however is this peace
initiative, of Adbullah of Saudi Arabia ? There are two aspects to be
considered here, at the outset.
So: hand over half of
It is the leading, the cutting edge however with which we are concerned, which presents itself as "Arab".
IF: this is done ? if these conditions are met ? If the 'peace plan' is implemented, then ? Why then, provocateurs may be given the red light, so that ambush and escapade, bombing of shopping sites, ruin to young bodies, arming of children and teaching them to fight with guns at 6 or so, on the part of Islamics, this will ... if not cease, at the very least, cease to be a total, overall plan.
What a bargain!
But let us return to Zechariah, with a very different and far more merciful and just divine scenario. The former is as man proposes; the latter as the LORD disposes.
firepan in a woodpile" (Zech. 12:6) are the governors of
But it did not, even this last Gulf War, quench the enemy. This is not the position for this stage, and in vain will you look for it in Zechariah 12. Repentance TO Israel before deliverance FOR Israel is the divine prescription. The Lord does not altogether intervene to prevent the realisation of folly, and the necessity for faith in Himself; but He has for all that as Ch. 9 of SMR depicts, done a very great deal just as prophesied, already, pending that required pivot of intervention (as dramatically exposed in both Ezekiel 38-39 and Micah 7:15ff., as also in Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 66 (for all of which see Biblical Index). What instead happens, as the burdensome stone continues, and the things, the assaults which make it burdensome continue, it is this: that the long awaited, long delayed and utterly essential REPENTANCE of many in Israel comes.
Meanwhile, the two facets of the crystal continue: the furore and the fighting, and the delay in Israeli repentance, NOT for existing, but for persisting without acknowledging their sin against the Lord, one which not merely causes trouble, but excludes by its disbelief the source of ultimate and adequate resolution. It is God, not man, who has that in His hand. It is His will, not that of man, be it the US or the UN, the Arab 'world' or any other body, which will, as always, prevail, being just and true.
The teeming triumphs have come, in fact, where "one who is feeble" shall be "like David," quite simply because the Lord, like some academic lecturer in science, has desired it to be so (Zech. 12:6-8), and has so directed the practical assistant at his bench. Israel does not yet realise the source of this strength (Zech. 12:8, Psalm 34:15-17). It is blind to Him who is invisible to the blind, but vital to those who see (cf. John 9:39-41); and His works are most visible, in much prescribed, and on many inscribed, even in the heart (Hebrews 8:7-10, 11:27, Jeremiah 31:31-34), just as He predicted also, would be the case, from ancient times, when He predicted the first coming of the Messiah so frequently (as in Jeremiah 23:3ff., Ezekiel 34ff., Psalm 2, 40, 22 - cf. Joyful Jottings 21-25).
uses means. He is able to direct even the anger of man, to His service (Psalm
76:10): He does not make man evil, but He does turn what he is doing, to the
plan. So a bull may decide to charge, but the matador decide to evade, mislead
and bring him to ruin. An imperfect parallel, this, yet it shows the use of
wisdom as well as power, without interference in evil as evil, to make it so,
but only with evil as good! To that may be added, the reward of evil when its
sensation becomes a syndrome that grips (II Thess. 2:11, Proverbs 1).
LESSONS THAT GROW,
AND DO NOT LESSEN (with apologies to Alice)
There ARE lessons to be learnt, and the Lord is a great teacher! He has His own ways, and they do not change (Habakkuk 3:6, Psalm 102, Malachi 3:6). Some of those lessons occurred in the almost farcical feeling of the 1948 overthrow of the multi-national assault on the fledging Israel, really a sprinkling of people among the Arabs, BY Israel. It was as if an infant using judo, threw over a brazen bully, equipped with brass knuckles. As to the 'infant', they even took half of Jerusalem. David ? yes. One as a thousand ? Assuredly. It is as it said; it happened as forecast, to the fact and to the feeling. The only fiction was in the enlarged intentions of the assailant. How 'burdensome' can you get!
In 1967, the heavily endowed Egyptian Air Force was stricken while on ground, the tanks without their support were likewise stricken en route to Israel, and disaster came to the one seeking disaster, ruin to the aspirant to deliver doom to Israel. The Israeli sortie into the desert, and to Elath made military history, a subject of soaring admiration, even amazement. The REST of Jerusalem was taken by "these miserable Jews" this "catastrophe" for Islam.
In 1973, the surprise attack on a Jewish 'holy day' led to near disaster, but reservists called up, and allies at work, led to a restoration so total, that we soon found the Egyptian army surrounded on the far side of the Suez Canal, with Russia diplomatically up in arms, when its other arms in Egyptian hands, had frankly failed. It was to be sure, a decisive moment in history, when man sought to overthrow the scriptures, and found the ink red. One sure way to end in the red ink is to defy the word: defile the heritage of the Lord ? this is pandemic. But the end of it is the red ink, the defilers being defiled (Proverbs 1 and Psalm 2 alike are eloquent on this process).
In 1991, there was the vast armament of Iraq, for long helped in order to circumvent Iran, by foreign power ... and that built-up nation was then assailed by a multinational force, so that this competitor for the 'glorious' position of invader and destroyed of Israel (it DID make it clear that a war was on, and DID attack Israel), felt the burdensome character of the stone, as did the rest.
Now there is this wonderful charismatic, this religiously admirable and ethically profound work of killing kids on the streets on Jerusalem, and arming kids in Palestinian occupied territories. It speaks for itself.
Will the WILL of Israel be
broken ? Will the will of George Bush be activated ? Neither is particularly
apparent. Even an Arab Professor in Germany, on the German radio broadcast in
English, this very day in early 2002, was found to be declaring that this
'peace initiative' from Abdullah of Saudi Arabia was not really an initiative
of that kind. His view: Arabia was under pressure, being given various
privileges of commerce by the USA, and this 'peace plan'
was a response without heart. Be that as it may, it is certainly not with any undue amount of concession. It is like saying to some girl, when a thug assails her: Just have intercourse, and there will be no rape!
Just give half of Jerusalem, and the rest of the lands of course, and mark how the dangers will subside! Scarcely inspired, at least, not by the Lord!
The same German professor interviewed on radio, noted that it was quite essential, and that he as an Arab himself had to say so, that Israel be given assurance of its right to exist.
It is some right, that, is it not ? To exist. It does not inspire with the thought of undue PEACE while existing, or undue commerce, while persisting, or undue equity while insisting, but just the permission to retain protoplasmic Jewish flesh without having large amounts of Palestinian flesh spattered on it in bombs, and the like. It is not sure what MORE would be wanted. It is just the privilege of existence. Suppose someone is kidnapped: then for the whole bank account of the father, this person is given right to exist. There may, of course, be further need to 'take care of' the person; but then, what is it, this life! it may be protested.
So it goes, but it does not come to a halt, this unpacifiable determination to exalt Allah, who is not there (More Marvels ... Ch. 4), by Islamic arms, and to subdue the Jews.
What next ? This: as in Zechariah 12:10, the Jews are to find the ground for their feet, the reason for their millenia of mockery, the site for their restoration, the rock "who begot you", the rock "of his salvation" (Deuteronomy 32:18,15), "from which you were hewn" (Isaiah 51:1), of which the people have become "unmindful" (all precisely as predicted, for the status quo before the Lord's vast, epochal intervention as in 32:36ff.).
That Rock ? : it is in the MESSIAH (Psalm 62:1-3, I Cor. 10:4, Isaiah 28:16). They are to regret with bitter hearts and deep repentance, the piercing of the LORD, yes the Lord, for it is He who is speaking, as shown in Zech. 12:10, and has been speaking in 12:1, 6, 10, in that very context.
It is undesirable to 'pierce' God, even if He does, as He did, come in the flesh.
It is not merely regicide; it is, as to form and format, deicide. It is quite literally, in the flesh as available for human expression of scorn, to kill kindness, and to lacerate mercy. It was however all provided for, as to format, in the scope of the divine plan of salvation, made available to man. Thus, that death, as Christ poured out His soul unto death (Isaiah 53:12), to bring forgiveness to the transgressors and prayed for them as they let His blood drip (53:12), merely was the predicted dawn of the resurrection, which in its day, again as predicted, some 3 days later, proved the most important testimony to power ever made in the history of the universe.
The exquisite irony and felicity alike of this divinely wise plan of salvation used hate to enact the crucifixion, that sacrifice with its redeeming power, and used resurrection to confirm the overthrow of all that man need fear, but only in and through this highly scorned Messiah. Not at all disesteemed by those whom He saved, healed and helped, He was yet not in favour with the ruling junta. This was both foreknown and predicted (Isaiah 49:7, Psalm 22, 2).
What abstractly, might have happened ? All could have been shown servile to sin, if He had not risen; national powers, such as now gather together against Jerusalem could have been able to crow over God, if they had merely retained the body, the corpse soon to be unavailable through resurrection; and while the likelihood of its rising, was too great for any degree of comfort (cf. Matthew 27:62-65), having been announced for a thousand years, and confirmed by the Messiah in person, right to the day of its actual happening! (cf. SMR pp. 931ff., Matthew 17:22-23).
However they did not manage it. Objectively, they could not retain the body. It was as if an enemy Captain had announced a millenium in advance, just what steps he would take, and all the powers on earth could not EVEN THEN, stop him! How puny is the power of man, when all is said, for he neither determines his birth nor his death; and even when he murders, his soul goes marching on both to judgment and to guilt. It never disturbs the plans of God, who uses the follies of men to indicate the glories of God, bringing to judgment, judgment, and to appeal, in His name, mercy.
That, the crucifixion and resurrection triumph over all opposition, is simply past (cf. SMR Ch. 6 and resurrection in Index) . Now we are looking at something beginning to appear rather more like the crucifixion of Israel. What now ?
If Israel as one small nation is given such power as we have been noting, by the word of God, to prevail over vast enemies, how much greater was the power when ONE MAN, the Messiah, simply broke death, and at that, a death following exquisite and prolonged torture so intense, that the butchery scarcely left Him recognisable as a man (as in Isaiah 52:14 cf. 53:4-6,12).
Just as God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son (John 3;16, Luke 1:35, I John 4:8-10), so those of Israel, the converted remnant in this amazing, predicted outpouring of the Spirit of God on that people, will mourn for the loss of their slain Messiah, slain by the hands of their own progenitors. Lamenting, they shall mourn as "one grieves for a firstborn". "The land shall mourn" - requiring more than a small arrival of repentance! There is no mere mass phenomenon: it will be personal, dispersed, experienced in heart and in mind, and in reflection; but its people will be very many. So it is prophesied in Zech. 12:11ff..
We have thus the imperial and divine phenomenon of the Emperor and President, the Creator and Lord of the universe, bringing in a love which will not wilt, which reaches all He has determined before all time to find, seeking all and consummating some, declaring what is to be some 2500 years ago. He tells what is to be done in Isaiah 49:7,50-53 in the slaughter BY Israel of the Messiah, His rejection, 700 years before it happens, and then in Zechariah, at least 2500 years before it happens, this message. The very nation which killed (with Roman aid) the Christ, will be reached by such an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, such a sense of urgency and immediacy of DESIRE for this DEITY (cf. John 8!), that they will SEE Him whom they pierced, and mourning at last believe in Him, receive Him, and be washed in the fountain which His blood opens (cf. Zechariah 12:10-13:1).
It is here and not in some summary of situational ethics and power broking, that peace is to be found. It is here that Jewish and Gentile nation alike meet, those who come to Christ, in the same God whom Abraham worshipped (cf. Romans 4, 11), the peace which embraces one as all, and the plan of God in its vast scope and wit, reaches a fulfilment intimidating to the adventurous, but exultant to the worshippers of God.
Thus, at this stage of the pouring out on Israel of "the spirit of grace and of supplication", which Zechariah contemplates, has the wheel of history turned; and crushed in spirit and hurt in heart are many of the children of those who grieved the very Spirit of God, and mutilated the Messiah, for seeing their own national and personal plight, these are seen seeking each for himself, herself, the Saviour. The ruin that ruined Jerusalem is now the rejoicing that rejoiced the Christians who believed Christ when He first came. Therefore, there is at this predicted phase, a new unity with the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians.
Thus, in Zechariah 13:1, we find that
Yes, the wheels of history have eyes, for all is under the hand of God, and there is to be seen what had to be seen (cf. Ezekiel 1 and Biblical Blessings Ch. 4).
Following this massive repentance, evangelisation and restoration to the concern and comfort of the Messiah, who died as predicted in the vicinity of A.D. 30 (SMR pp. 886) and has at this stage, being resurrected, come by His Spirit prior to His return in Person, to the weeping of Israel: there is a purging. The idolatries of the contemporaries are abolished (Zech. 13:3-5).
There is desire for purging, purity and peace ... with God! at last ... The figments of philosophy, theosophy, and the threadbare theological nostrums, secular digressions from the realities, and theories of force and diplomacies of asininity, these will be scorned. The very 'brilliance' of unbelief including religious unbelief, will be like a polluted rag from septic sores. So it is portrayed by this prophet, in Ch. 13. False prophets and those not called, theological nits and picts, these will be ashamed. Yet it is as if then the image of Christ appears, Himself once derided as false, and the genuineness is shown by contrast. It is seen that He is singular, He is wounded about the hands!
It is in the midst of this return of spirit, restoration of heart, insistence on truth, reconciliation with reality, that the consciousness of just how aweful was the atrocity of so treating the Messiah, so disadorning God with their follies, that gleaming in the midst of their hearts will be as it were, a vision. Powerful indeed will be the impetus of the vision, and clear the realisation of the woe wrought.
It will be as if one of them actually spoke to Him, while wondering at His suffering and reflecting on the FACT of the Messiah, at His reduction to death on the cross, and that with betrayal of Judas as one cause, and the authorities of the nation, including leading priests, as another. It will be as if one indeed asked Him, interrogating, and enquired a strange thing.
What is this thing that one would say to Him, in spirit, as such a time ? It is this.
As Keil aptly puts it, "the expression 'between the hands' can hardly be understood in any other way than as relating to the palms of the hands and their continuation up the arms". The points of the piercing, as here described, and further in Psalm 22, while the victim was sardonically scrutinised (Psalm 22:12-17, Matthew 27:27-44), would tend to sag, and so to be sites for the tearing of flesh beyond the place of insertion of the wounds, as in crucifixion, by the weight of the body borne by so small a portion of it, on the hands. The term 'scar' is even suggested by Keil.
Thus we look at the vision of Zechariah from the Lord, as portrayed in 13:1 and 13:6, the blood and its means of spilling. The atmosphere is electric. There is now, as we have noted, massive repentance. This is the environment of fact. There is a turning to the Lord in terms of the forsaken Messiah, and there is a grief, at once terrible and agonising, experienced by those who, realising the awful penalties and just results of their pagan scorn of their own Messiah, are in anguish of heart.
It is in this plight, and situation, when peace is beginning now to come as the "fountain" for sin and uncleanness is opened in Jerusalem (which had millenia before, opened His arteries, or veins, or both), that the reflective mode takes over. Looking on this Messiah, meditating, ruminating and realising what has been done, they feel perhaps a sudden pang: HOW did these come ? Is it a rhetorical question ? Perhaps so, but probably not.
It is not likely to be merely an expression of guilt acknowledged, as looking on the obvious and manifest fact, they rehearse the cause in the midst of their deep penitence; though this is equally, almost certainly part of the background of the mood and mode of expression.
It is likely to be a form of address to the Lord, now manifest in their hearts (John 14:21-23), and a mournful empathy is seizing the questioner, as a mother might take a hand of her warrior son, who had been lacerated for the protection of the city, and say, My son, what are these wounds in your hands ? She is lovingly rehearsing, now that he is back and intimate once more, the very specific evidences of all that he has suffered. So here.
But there is more still. There is the immense change of heart which is finding it all but impossible to take in, the fact that the glorious Messiah, the ruler of the nations, the one whose mouth destroys iniquity (as in Isaiah 11's prediction of the restoration of the Messiah from the death as signified in 52-53), COULD even POSSIBLY have suffered so much. Thus the grief swells and expands, resounds and researches the heart, in the midst of a sensitive, massive and epochal repentance. It is as if they are wondering how He could scarcely conceivably be perceived, how understood to have so suffered, who is so great (as in the Christian song, "Amazing Love, How can it be, that Thou my Lord, shouldst die for me!"). Yet did it not come ? COULD it have ever been that any should so treat such a One as this!
Like successive layers in a rock, deposited in swift actions, in days, so in those days layer on layer of grief and interchange occurs, and people come to their senses, spiritually, to their Lord, after some 2 millenia. It has been a long time! There is no dampening through time, for the whole time is growing nearer 4 millenia since Abraham, and 3 and one half since Moses predicted no small amount of these things (Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 32); and now history finds it harbour.
We might proceed, but this is enough. It is evocative, provocative, has the deepest of pathos, the tenderest of empathy, the scorching realisation coming in full force into the now converted heart. The whole matte now exposed, as in the disciples of old, it is coming home to the mind, to the texture of thought. Was it not similar, when in the Emmaus road episode, Christ had to say to them, so slow to perceive His resurrection and to understand, comprehend the majesty of love and the wonder of suffering in God's plan of salvation:
The Chapter 12 of Zechariah finishes after this vivid and vital vignette, at the stated time, when a restored Israel suffers in the pangs of contrition, with a divine response, a celestial counterpart to the question just addressed. It is even possible that in view of Luke 24:39, it may for some have a measure of amazement almost (but not quite) amounting to unbelief. WHY DO YOU DOUBT! Yes, it is so. Realisation swamps the soul and astonishment numbs the mind.
This vignette over, the
Lord is seen in Zechariah 13:7ff., revisiting the scene in which such things
happened in the first place, at the time of Calvary itself.
Against the Man who is My Companion,"
Says the LORD of hosts.
And the sheep will be scattered:
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones..."
They had ignored the love of God for His Son, and now in the devastation following the crucifixion which Christ foretold (cf. Luke 19:42ff., Matthew 23:37ff.), would come. Hence not only the Shepherd, the Messiah, but those lambs and younger ones whom He had come to save, to take up into His arms, those weak whom He had come to protect, with honesty and love, unlike the scurrilous selfishness of those false shepherds who inhabited the high religious places: all would be slain. Kill the dog, and the robbers attack. Slay the Messiah and the powers assail. What is left!
Then more boldly over time, we see something of the ENORMOUS proportional removal of Jews from their national assemblage. Only a FRACTION will be left, so appalling is to be the devastation, the loss of life for the Jewish people (Zech. 13:8-9). SO it was to be and so it is (cf. Jeremiah 30 and The Biblical Workman Ch. 1).
From this we turn to "the day of the Lord" in Zechariah 14:1. The end is then scrutinised; and it will occur, just as the first events in this chapter are now over half a century past and wholly fulfilled, precisely as predicted. It always is; it is guaranteed so to be (Isaiah 44:24-26).
Before we proceed, however, to Zech. 14, let us enjoy and reflect on the delicacy, subtlety of irony, depth of exposure, mastery of coverage and the deft supply of detail in this (respectively) 500 or so year in advance prophetic depiction of these singular, indeed unique events, and 2500 year prelude written to cover what in fact are current, contemporary occurrences, and those yet to come.
So does divine power hide its mastery in all the supple delineations of detail, time no barrier, already reflecting on the singularity of epochal events for which history had to wait centuries, structuring understanding long before the things ever came to pass. So does deity teach humanity its place, as in Zech. 12:1 and Amos 4:13, so fulfilling Amos 3:7 while evincing far more broadly, and deeply, the total comprehension of all things by the Author of creation, and the Maker of man, for whom time is just a shute that He has made (Romans 8:38), so that knowledge of the end is easier for Him than is the perception of distance in space to us.
Thus He speaks, and so He has done; so may it be found by simple application to the text (as reflected in Isaiah 48:6-18), where the pathos of human negligence before the love of such majesty is made poignant in the extreme.
"Oh that you had heeded My commandments!
Then you peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the saves of the sea."
1. Seeing it in Place
It is now time to consider the sequence further.
Thus in Zech. 9, we see devastation on many nations, but in the midst of suffering, the Messiah for Israel, lowly and having salvation, not arrogant and enabling blather and self-esteem! "His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth."
Revealed in Zech. 9:11ff. ("as for you also, through the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit"), is the glory after the earlier suffering of the nation, so conspicuous in Zechariah 7 for example, when there is to be pre-emptive power over evil, long given its time, now up for its due.
This appears merely a coming deliverance, apt for preliminary footage, a testimony of love in the midst of the failings of Israel, a transcript for faith such as happened in the case of the Maccabees (see Daniel prediction of this phase of Jewish history as in Daniel 11:32, in Highway of Holiness Ch. 10).
We are here in the contemporary situation of Zechariah. Back from their disciplinary exile in Babylon, the nation is soon predicted to experience a form of large-scale victory almost incredible to the small people then returned to their devastated city, to rebuild it. This is of course as in Daniel 9:24-27, a matter of the interim before the Messiah, the 70 sevens which are to transpire in terms of the fulfilment of prophecy, the coming of the Prince, the Christ, and the bringing in of righteousness as there defined and depicted expresslly.
Thus seen here in these earlier chapters, is a glimpse of triumph for the people and deliverance for the growing nation. Is it to continue ? Alas not! This depiction of victory is soon followed in Zech. 10 by the Lord's disgust with the corruption of the greatly aided people. As happened with the Maccabees, as may have been noted in our reference to the corrupt shepherds above, there was that appalling subsidence into political and ecclesiastical intrigue, such as is attested in some detail in Highway of Holiness Ch. 8 .
This in turn led on to the corrupted priesthood which was so eager to remove the Christ, despite His words, witness, ways, healing, power and grace, attested authenticity and verified veracity: lest the nation suffer for a 'king' unattractive to Caesar, lest the ways of the world being opposed, the desires of the priesthood denuded, they should lose their posts, or even nation.
This survival technology, this rat psychology, so popular to many to this day, of course led to all they feared. They lost not only their posts, their nation but their place in history, unless so gross an outrage be called a place.
Moving however from this concentration on the false shepherds, a decline following the Lord's massive deliverances for His people, at that time still to come, and so contrasted with the Messiah, who not only had salvation, but humility with it, we reach an important fact.
What can it be ? It is not difficult to find. Despite all this, there is a coming deliverance to mask, minimise or obscure by its brilliance all that went before. It is the work of the Messiah Himself, to which this prophecy returns like guests each night for dinner, on an ocean liner.
There is here, in Zechariah 10:9, as in 9:9ff., a preliminary indication of a rift, a ruction parallel to Isaiah 11:11. There is coming a dispersion and a restoration, as Isaiah puts it, a second time.
The enquiring mind cannot but be salivating at the expectation of explanation. How and why is this to be ? In Zech. 11 the answer is presented, as seen above, with appalling severity, clad in brevity but expressed with an irony that is all but incandescent! The false shepherds are now contrasted with their prey, the interlopers with their Prince, their filthy rags (as seen symbolically in Joshua's mime in Zech. 3:3ff., a professional as well as a personal touch), and false testimony, their sale of the Messiah indeed in which they were all too involved, leading to the ruptures with God specified earlier in this chapter (11) at that point.
With the menace of a false shepherd to 'replace' the true, Himself slain, we come to the sudden contrast. It is the light of the Lord in the presence of darkness. It is Jerusalem back in place for its terminal travails (Zech. 12). It is the people who had been misled, now replaced in their city, but surrounded with foes, with tension and with trial. As yet unconverted after that long dispersion noted from Moses (Deuteronomy 32, Leviticus 26) as the acme of their discipline for a contusion and confusion of disbelief, in many sustained steps, on the way to the irreversible events of Isaiah 11, 49, and Ezekiel 37, they are brought back to the Lord IN SPIRIT, just as already, they are in physical placement, in their city of old. The two steps have been noted several times on this site, most recently in Part II of Ch. 6 above. It is geographic before religious; political before spiritual; terrestrial before celestial.
Thus back in the LAND (as in Ezekiel 37:7-14, the dry bones re-assembled, which bleached, had lain on the hills of many nations in the dispersion), they now come back to the LORD (the prophecy of Ezekiel providing a second command, after the preliminary national restoration, to bring SPIRIT to their hearts, which then become the focus!). The second step is closely related to the first, in a setting of divine action directed to the declared goal. Zechariah 12 makes it clear that there will be a period of extremity of tension internationally, with many seeking to intervene, or subdue Jerusalem and its people by worldly schemes. This of course is precisely ... NOW! They suffer; the Jews suffer. The SPIRITUAL restoration is next in line, in this account.
Then the eyes being opened, as seen in Zech. 12:10, they repent of the crucifixion, forecast in Psalm 22 a millenium before it happened (Joyful Jottings 25), and now past history for them, and turn in contrition to Christ the Lord. This is an immense feature in their national life as depicted in Zech. 12:10-14.
The evangelical results follow as in 13:1-6.
2. Placing it in Sight
It is now that we come to Zechariah 14, our current interest for this which is a short preliminary survey for the sense of kinaesthesia!
We see once again, as in Zech. 12, the scene in the scenario, where Jerusalem is beset with mentors, infested with minders, but becomes a burdensome stone to these who try to hurl her away. Now however, we observe new data. The scene shifts, as when one presses a hyperlink on a news page, for more detail on some sub-topic; and one finds that Jerusalem is to suffer further molestation in its final phases, just before the Lord Himself, Stricken once, but Sovereign now, returns (Zechariah 14:5 provides further gen on THAT!).
Jerusalem is seen, in the process and turmoils of war, to be DIVIDED INTO TWO, one part only given to the people of the place, the returnees of Israel.
This, which was fulfilled in 1948, when Jerusalem was indeed divided and given half to the Jews, proceeds to a new revelation of the specifics. The Lord in this setting, at His timing (kept quite secret by design, as in Matthew 24:45ff., I Thessalonians 5:1-3, Acts 1), comes again. He revisits this earth, neither distant nor indirect, as when He first came (Acts 1:11), and as at the first he frequently the Mount of Olives, so now He anoints it with His ... feet. The incarnation was a strange and wonderful act (as in Isaiah 28:22 and 29:13-14), and who could have predicted it, but One who knows. God does not despise man, but rather loves him (John 3:16, Colossians 1:19ff.); it is the sin which He detests, just as a doctor might detest pneumonia in his mother.
He acted. Now He acts again, not to save, for all that is finished (Hebrews 8-10, 10:10-14). It is rather to rule that He comes (Psalm 2) and to remove from this earth the long affliction (as in Isaiah 65), which its curse has produced. Vindicated, He more than indicates righteousness; He rules with it before all eyes.
The return as shown in Zechariah concurs with the fact that He first appears, and comes "so", just as they watched His departure, "in a manner like that in which you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:11). That coming for His own, is outlined in Matthew 24:29ff.. Now, the coming as King exhibited in Zechariah 14, it is still in that mode, in this, that His form is human, His feet come to the earth from beyond it, and He becomes available once more in person, just as He was before the ascension.
Thus, He first removes His elect from throughout the world (as in Matthew 24:30-31), and then comes with them (as in Revelation 19, I Thessalonians 3:13 and 4). Zechariah however is concerned in his express scenario, already of considerable scope and detail, to keep to the theme. It is one of action on this earth. Thus with Jerusalem under duress, with the Lord's people converted in great numbers IN Jerusalem, there is a coming which is quite fatal to the energies of this world, to the efforts to dislodge Israel and to remove from the Book, that delicious emphasis found in Zech. 12:6.
The GOSPEL is construction, not destruction, though its rejection in the end leads to this. As we saw in studying Isaiah 66, it is not a martial thing, not a thing of devastation and leaving broken arrogance strewn in its armoured arrays, devastated by power. That is the outcome, not the income. That is the eternal result, not the longsuffering presentation.
Thus Paul is in perils, in shipwrecks and distresses (I Cor. 4, II Cor. 4 and 6), down but not out, not ruling amidst the slain subjects of the arrogant opposition, itself exposed and deprived of power. Nothing could be further from the facts than that. That was not the way of things with the apostle at all! This, then is not the preaching of the Gospel at which we are looking in Zechariah 14, but the reaching of royalty to His long delayed but now justly executed return. The earth is to savour His sovereignty, and forget its long blasts of confused rhetoric, seeing that the curse was for a cause, the cause was sin, and the sovereignty of God is clean, His fear glorious and His glory gracious (as in Psalm 72). The coming not to judge but to save (John 3:17) is far removed from the eternal indications of the returning to rule, and not to suffer iniquity, making the earth to be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2;14).
We must not liberate the word of God from itself, but ourselves from our philosophic pre-occupations. God is not bound by man, but man by the word of God. Whether he rejects it outright, or with sophisticated sophistries, it does not alter what it does. The word of God is effectual. It proceeds as indicated.
Nothing can act to hinder its performance. Let hammers attempt to pulverise it, or blindness to attack it without knowledge: It does not prevent the entire history of 1948 on being one long paean of praise to the precision of the prophecy of the Almighty (as in SMR Ch. 9 in some detail). Nor has it ever prevented the word of God from proceeding on target, like the ultimate in heat seeking missiles; but this one, it can even proceed when the heart is cold!
Long has He waited in love; Israel was given centuries; but the end came (cf. Matthew 24:14). It comes after the Gospel has been preached to all nations. That is the plan. So it goes; it goes as it comes, and as it goes it finishes what it is sent to perform. What in fact does it say of what is also observable ? This (Isaiah 55:6-13):
"Seek the Lord while He may be found,
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked forsake his way,
And the unrighteous man his thoughts;
Let him return to the Lord,
And He will have mercy on him;
And to our God,
For He will abundantly pardon.
" 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,' says the Lord.
'For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
" 'For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.
" 'For you shall go out with joy,
And be led out with peace;
The mountains and the hills
Shall break forth into singing before you,
And all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
And it shall be to the Lord for a name,
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off. ' ”
Let us however now return to the particularities of Zechariah 14.
Thus we see the military confrontation with restored Israel, in that climate of time which succeeds their restoration to their land, so empathetically focussed in its wonder and divine faithfulness in Ezekiel 37, one leading to a consummation with the Messiah, so that their restoration is double, in land and in spirit. It is intense, correlative and close, but one follows the other. There is to be no more dismissal, and no more interval. Nothing more is found outside the land. THIS is it.
Accordingly, we come to the divine arrival at Mount Olivet, site of the agony of Gethsemane, and of so much spiritual triumph by the Lord as He communed with His celestial Father (Zechariah 14:3-9). This is quite expressly the millenium where "no longer shall there be utter destruction. But Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited". This is as in Isaiah 65:19-25, the continuum from the work of the Lord in devastating confrontation with the spiritual enemies and earthly forces of take-over for the earth, which was exposed to view in Isaiah 59:15-21, an expressly unfailing word of continuing applicability, stressed in v. 21 cf. Sparkling Life in Christ Ch. 10).
Yes, this is the scenario for the restoration of Israel such that "I will not let you hear the taunts of the nations anymore, nor bear the reproach of the peoples any more, nor shall you cause your nation to stumble anymore" (Ezekiel 36:15). This return is to be one such the mountains of Israel, mute witnesses of the rebelliousness of Israel, "shall not devour men anymore or bereave your nation anymore" (Ezekiel 36:13). The word of God stresses that there had been quite a fame attached to the devastations wrought on the people of Israel, symbolised by the devouring mountains: they are back.
That is over. NO MORE! No gap intervenes, no imagination is intrudable, no regimes are to apply. They are back; they are beleaguered by belligerents; they are delivered in dynamism; they are repentant in weakness; they are visited by the Messiah, yes, even as their city is affronted, and their existence imperiled in their re-assembled multitude, dry bones first, flesh with spirit, second. It is in one place; in all places. It does not change, vary or commute.
It is categorical, the coming of the two prophetic dicta as in Ezekiel 37, the assemblage of Israel back in its land and the obvious necessity that the skeletons be clothed (37:8,11-13), swiftly attended to.
It is neither a symbol of salvation nor a war disguised as militarily devastating, that we are seeing in the return of Israel and the divine intervention (as in Ezekiel 38ff. indeed, and Micah 7:15ff., Joel 3:12ff., Habakkuk 3, Isaiah 66 - see scriptural index). It is a terrestrial PHYSICAL restoration followed by a celestial intervention in which, quite separately, but in close sequence, the divine Redeemer, who did not cavil at coming to the earth, does not cavil at bringing back a people first to the land accorded them, in the very face of the unbelieving enemies, and then to Himself.
Voilà, it is the scenario, the word of God (cf. News 87).
The geological consequences of the coming, expressive of the divine meaning, are exposed in Zech. 14:4-9, and
"the LORD shall be king over all the earth.
In that day it shall be -
The LORD is one,
And His name one."
It is just as in Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Isaiah 66, Habakkuk 3, Micah 7:15ff., Joel 3:12ff., Hosea 13:14-14:9, Daniel 7:26ff., 2:44-45, Ezekiel 37:25ff., Jeremiah 16:19, 23:6-7, Isaiah 11, some of these being expressly for all people, some specialising on the remnant of Israel, those who come to faith in the Messiah: all depicting the earth under His rule, as also Psalm 2, 73, Zephaniah 2:11 - for
Fulfilling His covenants, He yet reaches all with that universality already clear in the Old Testament in such sites, as in Isaiah 19:22-25, 2:4, Psalm 67:3-7, 63:9, 66:3-4, 86:9, 89:22-27, 72:11 and Psalm 2, Revelation 20:3. It is He who shall as shown in these Psalms, allow the evil one to deceive the nations NO MORE, to use Revelation's words, sacrosanct in their utterance, UNTIL the time is up.
That of course implies that he, the Evil One, will deceive SOME MORE WHEN the time comes, as in fact Revelation 20:7 expressly states (cf. Sparkling Life ... Ch. 10). It is only then that the blessed and delightful action comes, when from the throne of judgment, "the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them" (Rev. 20:11).
Meanwhile and at all times, it is with ONE everlasting Gospel as ONE Lord, as seen in Zechariah 14:9,16 that all is done. On Him all history waits, for Him all nations will look, and over all His rule will be carried, both in mercy and in justice (Psalm 72, 2). Nowhere is this more manifest than in Zechariah 14. Covering then its pronouncements, let us proceed.
Passing over the plague*1, already covered in our Appendix at the end of this chapter, an event of great predictive flair or manifest divine power for our contemporary world, as are the pillars of vapour of Joel (Joel 2:30 for which see also SMR pp. 790ff., 903ff., 676ff.), we come to the quite arresting and intriguing use of Old Testament symbolism for New Covenant reality (as in Jeremiah 31:31ff., Ezekiel 16:60ff., Isaiah 52-53, 66:1-3,18-21).
This New Covenant ultimacy is expressly revealed for action, following the crucifixion and resurrection, as also indeed the royal return of the Lord Jesus Christ. Using the KEY of principles explicit in the Old Testament for the predicted New Covenant period, we come to interpret the forms and formats of Zechariah 14:16ff., in terms of the realities to which the symbolisms yield for this New Covenant, prophetically depicted to be in force for this period.
The MESSIAH in this death and resurrection IS the New Covenant (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6).
Of this topic, we find extensive treatment in the Appendix below at *2, and in a broader perspective, background from *3. More broadly it can be traced in Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13, 20 and Biblical Blessings Appendix I, It Bubbles, It Howls, He Calls ... Ch. 10,Galloping Events Ch. 4.
Animal sacrifices have, at this time, long since been replaced by the pierced Messiah, who in ONE DAY has despatched sin (Zech. 3:9), so that it is quite clear, even internally, that the symbolism of the last chapter at this point, is to be represented as Hebrews puts it in Chs. 8-10, with the substance of Christ, who is explicitly to be "King on earth".
Now in these advanced events, we find from Zech. 14's closing verses, that holiness to the LORD becomes a keystone to the composition, a dominant theme to the earth which shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14). Purity is expressed in racial terms, "there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts", for this people of old had not only concretely corrupt, but their cultural backdrop incendiary to Israel, like a fire to a forest.
Zechariah proceeds to relate that 'Holiness to the Lord' will even be engraved on the bells of the horses, so that we see a depiction of intense joy with application at last, to the realities of divinely governed, guided and girded living, throughout the earth. God does not despise it. He made it. He does not decline as being ultra vires or beneath contempt, the coming: He came before, and has in so many ways, places, visions and declarations indited His intention to come and rule, from Psalm 2 onwards, that it is an argument with HIM, not a viewpoint OF Him, which declines to acknowledge this return.
In one sense, this end*4 of Zechariah reminds one of the end of Isaiah (66:23-24), where the domain of hell is seen as if in immediate proximity to the view, but not to the access of the saints. Such matters, clearly understood from the principles applicable (in Isaiah as in 65:17, 51:6), are like the Pilgrim's Progress. Just as we are unable to involve the word of God with our own licence in allegory, especially when it is abortive of the intent of the substance of the context, so we MUST be prepared to see it where an intelligent author, indeed with the acme and source of intelligence, presents material for purvey. NONE is so intelligent as God, nor so free as He!
The mind must be active, and the imagination, in reading the work of another, susceptible and sensitive to direction, without ever intruding. So do we in the fear of God, avoid substituting for the word of God our own traditions, whether intrusive imagination or intrusive lack of response to what the imagination must find in the concrete presentations of KEYS at the point, or elsewhere in the word of God. Like the law - as one prominent lawyer once declared of the law of the land - it must be read as ONE WHOLE.
If this can apply to a land over centuries with many different and diverse lawgivers, much more then to ONE lawgiver who is over all, knows all and has a facility not dreamed of by men, in depicting what He will with just the touch or the index desired, to stimulate thought, increase depth of concentration, or at other times, to relieve distress. He is then also a teacher superb and sublime.
As the word of God says of His wisdom given, "it is all clear to him who understands" (Proverbs 8:8-9), there is no INHERENT and insuperable difficutly, and a major reason for that is this: that there are so many evidences and attestations, which must be given by interpreters as reasons, to prevent arbitrary excursion or arbitrary failures to follow them when the Author Himself makes them!
It is then not the exponent but the exposition that is to the point; and within that, not the flair but the force of what God says throughout His word which is the ultimate, verifiable and adequate constraint.
To interpret, not impose, the reader must be precise, never slacking, substituting a weak and preposterous 'solution' which is easy, for the gen, the data, the textual facts, but adopting the latter and making the result as sure as sensitivity and comparison of scripture can attest, which is to say, very sure. It is only when we impose and add, negate or modify, in the interests of some theory, that accidents happen, some appalling, so that knowledge becomes vanity, and vanity vapid. Nevertheless, it is always in the word of God itself that confidence must be placed, for the best of men are but sinners. What is presented however is ever available for comparison with the word of God.
Thus taken, Zechariah appears as a tower of flame, a dell of grace, a meadow of felicity, a drama of dimensions glorious and triumphant, a word of warning, a witness in truth of truth, a delicious detailing of the Messiah, like a portrait, in many sided depth, and a torrent of grace, as they say to the cornerstone, "Grace, grace!"
"Return to the stronghold you prisoners of hope!" - Zech. 9:12, is a word clothed in the terms of its day, but without variation in its message. The stronghold is the Lord, who never changes, whose Gospel is in essence the same since Abraham (Romans 4 is explicit here), whose Messiah to come (as in Psalm 22) is as precious once as after His arrival, as sure at first as at last and the Tower of Strength (Micah 4:8, Psalm 61:3) to His people whether foreseeing His coming, witnessing His glory or awaiting with eager expectation (Romans 8:23) His return. As Paul says, If we have what we hope for, how do we yet hope ? but now we earnestly await the Return of that King, who first bringing to a Himself, like ripe wheat all His people, then comes with them as in Zechariah 14:5, I Thess. 3:13, to invest the earth.
You cannot shunt the Lord. He comes and goes as it pleases Him; but it is a good pleasure in which He moves, for He IS good, gracious and without iniquity, and
| "His salvation
is near to those who fear Him" (Ps. 85:9),
" For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
and abundant in mercy to all those how call upon You" - Ps. 86:5,
|and indeed, "everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved" (Acts 2:21),|
by faith entering the invisible kingdom (Colossians 1:11-12) soon*5 to become most manifest (Psalm 2, 72), but already operative in the hearts and lives of those who are His, by repentance divorcing from the gods and vacuities of carnal, cultural objets d'art among the mental manufactures of man, the pseudo-spiritual surrogates, and finding in Christ, that He is all and in all who are His (Colossian 3:11).
is He who is the fulfilment of the aspirations of the nations, though they be
witless of Him (Haggai 2:7) and the evacuation post for the pollutions for man.
In this case, the notes are in substance,
virtually all (except 1A, 4-5)
a matter of giving related treatments in other works of this author, and making them available for due compilation in thought.
In that sense, it is an Appendix.
The comedy of prima
facie observation here, is parallel to the hardness of heart which WILL not
realise that when the Lord says 'her own place' and 'again' and then adds -
'Jerusalem', it is almost like the promptings of a person in the 'wings' in
some theatre, constantly trying to bring the erring actor to his temporarily
wandering senses: he MEANS Jerusalem, not some fantasy, fiction or allegory.
On Zechariah 14, from SMR pp. 718-719.
We find, as our Age progresses, man marvellously drawn to evil, to defile himself, his life and his conscience, to abort good instincts, aims and self-control, exactly as predicted; to derange his systems with food, drugs, absurd forms of sex and any other irrationality that occurs to the 'liberated' mind. Such is the trend which, so far from arrested, is declaring itself more and more blatantly, as though having a compulsive neurosis on the fulfilment of Matthew 24:11-12 and 11 Timothy 3 and 4.
Not only so. The very technological changes and advances have produced not only the column of vapour predicted by Joel, and confirmed in the deployments of divine power through Peter at Pentecost (Acts 2:19): as a major mark of the advancing phases of the age which proceeds till Christ returns - the A-bomb and the H-bomb obliging the predictive word with hats off, as it were, powerless to proceed except in accord with the word of God. In fact, there is more.
The very disease syndrome covered in Zechariah 14 and, in part, in Revelation, has also made itself manifest. Strength and sickness, brilliance and malady alike are there; and they are here ... with us distinctively, translated accurately into history, now.
This rather startling item of detail, the soaring atomic cloud, is as secure a reference-point to our Age as is the vapour composition: the form and the substance 'clap hands together' in fulfilment. But what of the disease ?
It too is astonishing. The
extended itemisation of Revelation 16:10, found in Zechariah 14:12, was taken
as a syndrome to a medical doctor, an atheist or agnostic. What did he make of
this physical condition predicted for the fearful turmoil, as the phase of this
Age came near to its
end ? ( In Prophecy Phase II, Ch.9 infra, we look in more detail at the location, but this chapter of Zechariah being also that in which Christ re-appears, in a sequence, it is clear it is near the end.)
He confirmed that it fitted well, the description in Zechariah 14, with the atomic radiation syndrome: in the eye, tongue and body wastage pathology noted by the prophet. The leukemia wasting away, and the ulcerated tongue and the serious eye conditions related aptly, he indicated.
We have noted the entire accuracy of Peter and Joel's reference to the vapour cloud famous for our atomic explosions, but what does it say of this prominent disease for the same period ? It is this which is written:
''Their flesh shall consume away while they stand on their feet. And their eyes shall consume away in their sockets. And their tongue shall consume away in their mouth'' (Zechariah 14:12).
This, says Zechariah (14:12), is the plague. Specially prepared for the ultimate assault on Jerusalem, in this Age, it has the appearance of this Age's weapons most markedly upon it.
It is in the theme of the returned Jews fighting off a multinational assault on Jerusalem that this prediction occurs, and of the Jews in turn, repenting of their 'piercing' of the Lord whom they had rejected. That is the overall context in Zechariah 11-14, and to this we will in some detail return in Chapter 9, infra. Zechariah 14 goes on to show that this time is leading up to the return of the Lord, the Messiah crucified and now coming in power and judgment (Zechariah 14:3-4).
Thus, together with the
column of vapour signal reflected from Joel, by Peter in Acts so dramatically
as he characterised the Age and its dénouement, this makes fascinating
newscast. Not enough that it was stated nearly 2000 years ago; more yet, Joel
gave it out for the ravishing of the earth as it would come to approach its
eventual judgment, some 800 years even before that. There is a certain
composure about the word of God; it is what you might expect of a sovereign of
this magnitude, Lord of Lords and the God of creation. Not merely the facts, the
details, the trends are right: the style and manner has an inimitable assurance
which lacks bluster and simply reigns supreme.
From a larger survey in the volume
With Heart and Soul, Mind and Strength
also expouding aspects of Zech. 14.
Thus the sacrifices of Zechariah 14, which follow the gospel message and close coverage of the Messiah in this prophet (3:9, where the sins of the people are absolved in one day, 9:6, where the King comes on an ass's colt, 11:10-12:10, where the treachery of His people against Him occurs, and their subsequent repentance in terms of Him whom they pierced is displayed, this and much more): these have nothing to do with the merely preparatory specifics which are included in the Old Covenant. The Messianic blessing is "not according to" this, we are instructed by the Lord, in Jeremiah 31; and its most intimate items are wholly irrelevant now, being fulfilled, as we are shown explicitly.
These Old Covenant-formatted terms of Zechariah 14:16ff. represent in Old Covenant shadows*2, what is to be performed in a New Covenant setting. Hence the principles of the New Covenant in one phase as in another, and in particular with the return of the endlessly governing Prince (Isaiah 9:6) the son of David born of a virgin, are to apply. These principles make the symbolic forms which are used in terms of the Old Covenant setting of Zechariah, to have poignant and intensive force. Yet they require them to be understood in terms of the New Covenant, so that items of the Old do not even come to mind!
Further, like the showbread given to King David by the priest, to cover the leader's emergency, they are to be interpreted as to their significance: indeed the baked "bread" itself disappears, like the altar of Jeremiah 3; and ONLY the meaning now remains. The glory of it is this: THAT meaning now is LESS abstract than before, MORE concrete and utterly personal, moving from Christ, who proceeded from His Father to those of this race who receive Him. In all things, Christ has the pre-eminence, and all things are gathered up in one in Him (Colossians 1:18, Ephesians 1:10); and here is the resting point of all symbol for its nexus. This then is the situation in Zechariah 14.
As earlier noted, the same applies to the end of Isaiah 66, where the SPIRITUAL realities of hell are depicted as if they were occurring on earth, and as if people went to some physical place to observe them. We all use symbols of former times, or other things to represent something with vital force and impact at times; it is part of the value of having capacity both for imagination and for symbolic thought within our construction as in the image of God.
Thus in Isaiah 26, it is clear that God having appointed salvation for walls, the city in view has a primary relationship to that topic, and in this Chapter which also brings in the bodily resurrection of the saints (Isaiah 26:19), it is clear that here there is an essentialising of major spiritual themes, potentially applicable beyond. This is as in Galatians 6:16 and 4:25 where metaphorical extension or denotation is clearly exhibited; for the point of the word of God is not to enable a theory or mode, to one undisciplined extreme or another, but to provide scope for intelligent investigation, the context bringing in its fruits of whatever kind. God may use whatever imagery He pleases, so long as it is as clear as He stipulates for His word (Proverbs 8:9), for God is reliable and neither changes nor suffers others to change His words by any means (cf. Rev. 22:18-19, Proverbs 30:6, Deuteronomy 4:2). What He declares, is so. His ways do not change (Habakkuk 3:6, Malachi 3:6, Psalm 102:26-27); and He never fails (Zephaniah 3:5). What He does not make clear becomes the co-authorship of the spiritual or ecclesiastical cognoscenti, a kind of gnostic intrusion.
When He attests in His word by indisputable signs, that imagery is in view or even as in the Ezekiel temple with its imaginative elements and symbolic sacrificial depictions for the time when these things are past as in Isaiah 53, 66, then we may relish and rejoice in this mode of instruction. When we hear of the Jerusalem which is above contrasted with another, we see the thrust with desire and the heart is stirred by the nature of that depiction. Yet riotous use of HUMAN imagination in the word of God without definable warrant, however subtly imparted, is like a fire in a forest, ruinous, and one that should never have been started.
NO tradition is needed; just the flexibility to follow, and the fixity to keep such principles as are stated to be irrevocable and inherently divine, and apply them. As one obeys in Christ, so the Spirit aids (Acts 5:32).
Versatility in FOLLOWING the lead of the word of God in any particular context, to find its inevitable riches, is needed just as is stability in following its principles and depositions faithfully. The case here in Zechariah is precisely in this milieu.
In these places, the principles securely in place, we are to understand the teaching implicit in the patterns, and not to imagine that God has become divided in mind: but rather this, that if we do not accept it, we are "foolish and slow in heart", as Christ indicated when He chided His disciples. And for what did He chide them? for not seeing His place in its regal and overall setting, commanding and commandeering all else, in the suffering phase as likewise in the phase of His glory.
Thus, to revert to the text of Zechariah 14, even the pots "shall be holiness to the Lord", just as the "walls" predicted for Isaiah 60's presentation of Jerusalem, are t be "salvation" and its gates "praise"! It is no part of holiness to be obtuse to what is so written that to fail to understand is to be embroiled in the ludicrous, and to understand is to be deepened in the fundamental realities God reveals so often, in so many ways and with such final authority. Now at last, the "shadows" of material emblems are replaced with the spiritual substance itself (cf. Hebrews 10:1-13), as soon again, will the structure itself (Isaiah 65:17, when God shakes the unshakeable and demonstrates His magnificence with prodigious directness, in Christ - Revelation 5:12-13).
As Hebrews 8 tells us of
the Old Covenant, it is fading away, obsolete.
Sparkling Life in Jesus Christ, Ch. 10.
First however a word about the relationship of this *3 note, to *2 above, and to our theme in this Chapter.
This is complementary to *2 above, in that the KEY noted is applicable every time that some generic principle is given in the Bible, such as the New Covenant, announced in the Old, pronounced in the new Testament. When the criteria of this covenant are known from the scriptures which concentrate on these, it is mere confusion NOT to apply these to any symbols that may be presented FOR the New Covenant. Imagery has to be interpreted, forms and modes of speech discerned, so that the principles required are used to open the door of understanding to find the interpretation therefore compelled. It is a very joyous experience, like completing the last hard parts of a jig-saw puzzle, for it does all fit together, and what was old imagery, becomes in the direction of Biblically required principles, expressly stated in the text, new understanding.
Indeed, the Lord is to govern the nations on earth righteously, and "Your enemies will submit themselves to You" (66:3), so that "all the earth shall worship You". Sin is not absent, merely the devilish dash of its dynamic; further, the wonder of the way of righteousness is demarcated with a distinctness of wonder, past all confusion, abuse or decline. Indeed, many may give feigned acceptance in this millenium specified by Revelation, with criteria paralleled in its unique and defined state as shown in Rev. 20:3. We know that because at the end of the time, there is to be a revolt, an uprising.
When the TIME IS PAST and the devil is given liberty, the devilish heart is no more abased, the rebellious no more conform, and now it is demonstrated specifically that it is not environment (for He has redeemed the poor as in Psalm 73 and been tender and just) that counts in the count-down to heaven or hell; it is grace, it is salvation, it is knowing the Lord IN YOUR HEART, by His cleansing regenerative dynamic and personal presence.
· Here the dynamic of Psalm 2 is seen in its TIME setting, and the characteristics of the references in the preceding paragraph, have their alone anchorage in the periods specified in the Bible.
· Thus chronology and criteria are wedded in harmony, while justice and truth are fulfilled, prophecy finds it place, and the 'interpretations', the dizzied declamations, the intolerable inequations, which make
· millenium = NO millenium,
· carnage = unbelief, and
· overthrowing power removing the deceptive capacity of the devil =
the prominent works of the god of this world, in all their contrived muzzlings of the simple demands of the word of God,
· become mere chatter in the dark.
It is not that it need be anything directly to do simply with an instructed individual, except perhaps the inventor of some of these meddlesome myths. They have become 'schools' which invite people to become 'followers' and in which there are wars and corners and fights, and hype! It is very horrible, and it is very divisive, but it is entirely unscriptural. Thus, one must, of course, make it entirely clear that this is in no sense a personally oriented comment on anyone who, caught in any erroneous interpretation, happens to hold it in such a field. It is rather addressed to the misleading dynamic which tends to ensnare people, and to this itself. It is what Christ called a ‘leaven’, as to type.
One no more wishes to 'condemn' those who may have caught such a toxic dose, than those who suffer from influenza. This said, however, one is without the slightest codification, compelled and constrained to say these things about the quality of the illicit thing itself!
Again, to be sure, there are dispensational horrors which are probably far worse (cf. Biblical Blessings Ch. 3 esp. pp. 35ff. and 45ff. incl. *2). These, for example, omit the key which turns the door of interpretation, the clearly defined biblical principles which, like a map, allow the unfading certainties of what are the markers of the track of understanding. Ignoring the standing guidelines, many have failed to realise that orders are orders, and human principles of interpretation from philosophy, must give way to explicit statement from God as to what He is about, will insist upon and where He is going. This relates to what happens in the millenium.
The trackless wastes of covenantal confusion, as if God had forgotten the lines which He Himself has drawn, or meant symbols to signify something other than what He has laid down with all the emphasis of heaven itself, become a place of prey for the unwary. However, as Justin Martyr so beautifully stressed, the Christ is the new law and the new covenant, and as Ignatius put it, the charters ARE Jesus Christ: in Him the symbols in vast numbers coalesce and have their completion (Hebrews 10:1ff., 7:25-28). His messianic presence is dominant and not merely prominent, the pith of the presentation, the acme of the acuity, the flame of the fire which like some vast solar flare, has reached out to illumine and to warn all.
Moreover, there are insistences that II Peter 3:8-9, is dealing with admittedly eschatological criteria, and these therefore are here far from irrelevant. They may apply assuredly, though this could not be proved. Though some indeed might wish to insist that this word of Peter is so wedded to this end period that to ignore it here is to be silent where God has not been so, and to ignore what God has divulged, and there is ground for some sympathy in such a position: yet such a position, though appealing, has no sure mandate. It merely prevents our ‘knowing’ the length.
Thus, one does not know the chronological length of the Revelation millenium for the very simple reason that the highly pertinent II Peter 3:8-9 in this whole context of the longsuffering of the Lord and the end, may well be a pointer. Since it may not be one, specifically however for the immediately following phase, though it bids fair to be an index, we simply DO NOT KNOW. There is scriptural ground for RESERVATION on the topic. We know the actual duration may be far short of a thousand years, though it is certain to be adequate for all pronounced to be done in this.
Symbolical in extent , or unsymbolical, however, the point is but trivial, unless more be asserted in God’s name, than can be proved from the Bible. That in itself, is never trivial! (Proverbs 30:6, SMR Appendix D, and the earlier chapters of this volume). We simply announce that the length is not known, but as in other matters in symbolism in this work, where the key is apparent, the substance is there, and it will last as long as GOD MAKES IT TAKE to fulfil all He has said concerning this exhibition of His justice and mercy.
To the last jot and tittle, Christ declared, all the law and the prophets will be fulfilled. You do not fulfil an earth flowing with righteousness under the just and merciful rule of God, in all nations, one where the wicked are dashed, by having one in which these criteria disappear. You do not fulfil the word of God by excising Revelation 20. You do not have the knowledge of the glory of the Lord cover the earth, and the righteous unmolested when the righteous are systematically murdered, goods rifled and powers of satanic dynamic flourish like giant weeds, covering the deserts of desolation PREDICTED to reach their climax at His return, coming somewhat earlier in order to prevent the earth becoming WHOLLY UNINHABITABLE.
Thin does not mean fat, nor fat thin.
You do not avoid the context by dismissing it to some sanctuary invented by your own mind.
You continue with the word of God, neither adding nor subtracting, interpreting what is there, not disenchanted from some philosophy, deciding it really is better put away, like some 19th century relative who is not fit for society, and so is placed in a country mental asylum. It is man not God who is in mental danger; it is the word of man and not of God which is to be put away.
As to God, His glorious justice and righteous word is undivorceable, intractable, retroactive in judgment on this world, bringing its deeds of the past to contemporary exposure, just as was the case with the Jewish nation of Jesus' own day, when He said:
· "Fill up then the measure of your fathers' guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers. How can you escape the condemnation of hell ? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city,
· "THAT ON YOU MAY COME ALL THE RIGHTEOUS BLOOD SHED ON THE EARTH, FROM THE BLOOD OF RIGHTEOUS ABEL TO THE BLOOD OF ZECHARIAH... assuredly, I tell you, all these things will come on this generation."
As the evil is purged, so the entry of light is urged. Sparkling, it embraces the truth, the truth embraces it, they luminesce in unison. They make manifest each and all of the appointed avenues expressive of the glory of the Lord.
As the evil is purged, so the entry of light is urged. For this millenium, then, you go not to heaven, to hell, or to Mars, and further, neither to fiction nor to fantasy for the place where His righteousness will erupt in glory, teem in wonder, be brilliant with force and strength, to govern all nations, and tender in compassion from the Redeemer, to heal all wounds: no, for all this in its defined ensemble of substance, is statedly on this earth.
It was not in Jupiter, in some fabrication of the human mind, in a scalloped work of the mind of man that Christ was to come. He was to born on this earth; and it was not in some purée of thought that His crucifixion was to occur, moving this to the garden of Eden perhaps, or to some other place.
Not at all! It was in Jerusalem, on this earth.
Redemption cost the earth and the earth will behold the majesty of the Lord, nor will He neglect any, for ...
"with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth:
He shall strike the earth with the rod of His mouth,
and with the breath of His lips He shall slay the wicked...
the nursing child shall play by the cobra's hole,
and the weaned child shall put his hand in the viper's den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:4ff.).
You observe this ? Then let us hear about the site, and the REASON for these events as dictated by the lip of the Lord:
· "FOR THE EARTH SHALL BE FULL OF THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE LORD AS THE WATERS COVER THE SEA."
What however of that glorious entry into heaven itself ? Does the book say it all ? It proceeds indeed to instruct us on this topic. Already the saints have long gone to their Redeemer in heaven, who came before the final abolition of evil (I Thessalonians 4, II Thess. 2:7-8,Matthew 24:22,29-31, Rev. 19:8ff. as above), and drew them apart, His elect from the four winds*2, to His side. It is with them that He comes (I Thess. 3:13, Zech. 14:5, Rev; 19:14, Luke 21:25-28 with Rev. 1:7 cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega: Jesus Christ Ch. 5); for there is no more pain, and the works are finished. It is not part of salvation, that God desires to vindicate glory, indicate righteousness and exhibit the majesty of its tang on the earth, past the desecrations and denudations of those wilful and wiley.
It is however part of His announced plan. Wiser than God is the one who wishes to snip here, and cut there, to add this or ignore that ? Far from it. It is well to be instructed and learn, from His book, without alien aid.
The ministry ? This is an aid which does not rule the truth, but is there for helping joy, not dominion over faith.
Wise is he, is she who receives what according to Biblical specifications is given from those who help, and yet finds in the Lord alone the help which for the helpless is ever overwhelmingly strong, incalculably pure, marvellously kind.
If you do not know all things (I Cor. 13), at least always know this, that the word of God is truth, and blessed is he, is she who abides in it (John 15:7).
There are alas, woes of waywardness in interpretation, in which the possibility of metaphor or allegory becomes the advance of anything that appeals. This is to be deprecated severely.
Thus the depiction, certainly to be opened by the New Covenant Key as described above, of The LORD as King over all the earth (Zech. 14:9, with many parallels such as adduced earlier in this chapter) does not mean that He will NOT be King over all the earth. That is contradiction, not interpretation. There is no key to remove a kingdom from Christ, or its site from His purvey!
Again, the discipline on nations which seek apostasy from this King (already protrayed in another facet in Psalm 2) does not imply that there will be none (cf. Isaiah 11). The emphasis on holiness at the end, does not imply that there will be an amorphous, non-descript civilisation; for to interpret is not to obliterate. Holiness is not symbolical, however symbolically it may be expressed. Dominion is not a quiddity, in whatever form it be set.
The earth is not heaven, and war is not in heaven, however the mind may like to wander. Short-circuiting the manifest, multiple, multi-contextual and diversely presented attestation of these things in many prophets, in the interests of some sort of philosophically preferred simplicity, making simplistic the announcements of the actual Sovereign, helps nothing but confusion, forwards nothing but philosophy and is a tradition making light of the word of God, whatever the intention may be.
Error is error whether Johnny or the king, should make it. The textual attestation does not vary because this or that party failed in this or some similar point. What is written, the contexts in which it is multiplied, the forms and formats in which it appears, from the poetic to the practical, the political to the spiritual, merely amplify its certainty. They do nothing to make the millenium cancellable by the stroke of a pen. It is precisely the same with the post-millenium confusion. NEVER has this world shown such an arrest of Satanic DECEIT among the nations, as would fulfil the small part of it! Further, in Revelation 20, there is ONLY ONE PLACE where the millenium is put. It is after Christ returns, just as in Zechariah 14.
Much requires the most assiduous consideration, meditation and spiritual illumination; but as to these things, they are not in the aura of light too intense to be helpful. They are written for our instruction. It is well to be careful in adding, with whatever good intention, even to the ingredients of the millenial period, including its duration, or attempting to make any term equipped with scriptural key, of a generic kind, to lack it.
For the sequence, see Answers to Questions Ch. 5. "Near" is the word of Christ for what is depicted, uniquely, as the current contemporary situation, relative to His coming (Luke 21:24ff.). This aspect is shown in detail in the reference here given.
As to the onset of the regime of the man of sin, the antichrist, the last squirmings of the dying powers of evil, facing their come-uppance from their spiritual darkness, into the blazing light of Christ (II Thess. 1:6-8, 2:8, Revelation 19:19ff.), this is considered in SMR pp. 505-516, and readers are recommended, if interested in this part of the pattern, this touch in the tartan, to follow this hyperlink to that topic and field. It is not without its fascination, and it is wise to seek understanding in all things.
(See also, Millenium in Index for The Rest.)