W W W W World Wide Web Witness Inc. Home Page Contents Page for Volume What is New
OF TREES, TWIGS, SHIPS AND SCUTTLING
Egypt, Messiah, Tyre, Israel and Seacoast
A SHORT REVIEW
Ezekiel is a book prodigious in imagery, but no less so in practicalities. It has powerful appeal and its words take effect, like fish-hooks on the end of a line; but the fish come as if propelled to its words.
Kingdoms have been moved, as with Jeremiah, to fulfil the word of God so spoken (cf. Jeremiah 1:10-18). Examples for the word of the Lord through Jeremiah are the return of Israel (as in Ezekiel 36ff.), the physical restoration to the land preceding the massive conversion epic to the once betrayed Christ, a repentance still to come (as in Zechariah 12:10-13:1), this one leading shortly to the return of the Messiah to rule the nations; and the earlier return from Babylon, after 70 years of exile, when as predicted, both Israel and other named nations were predicted to fall, and did to that same imperial power of Babylon.
Those so summoned and so stricken included the Philistines of the coasts, Egypt and much more (Jeremiah 21,24-25). As to the Israel, Jerusalem was indeed restored as promised (20:33ff., 25:12ff., 29:10ff.), and with what a spiritual and patient saga it was; while Babylon itself suffered from its long predicted overthrow by the next world empire, Medes and Persians, as predicted jointly by Isaiah (13:17) and Daniel (8). Indeed, Cyrus of the Medes, was himself named by Isaiah in a spectacular of precision, so that they might know that there is no other God, and that in Him is all counsel and wisdom, who can even deride and expose the proliferation of philosophic, religious and mystic gallants who try to establish themselves without knowledge (Isaiah 44:24-45:6). The Lord acts with a great precision as the matters requires, and knows precisely what He is doing (Ephesians 1:11), not varying from His intents, and showing mercy wherever it will fit, for HE has no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 33:11).
He spoke through Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and then what happened ?
It all went like clockwork, though its noise and blood did not resemble that, but the clockwork aspect cam with the result in time. It was as He said. It always is (cf. Jeremiah 33:19-26). Take current Iran which would like, and it is not alone in Islamic bodies, to eliminate Israel - kill Jews everywhere to the last one, say some boldly - and that is a joke. Kill Israel ? Kill the sun.
It is not that Israel (or the sun) is in itself invulnerable, but God has spoken to the contrary; except in this one thing, that the sun, when its time comes, will indeed depart (Matthew 24:35, Isaiah 51:65, II Peter 3); but Israel will not, till judgment come, and the earth goes. It is not that it is so virtuous (to kill one's employer ? no...); but it is that God has STATED and stipulated another way for this much used vehicle of grace, through whom came the prophets and Christ in the flesh. His plans do not fail, nor will Israel, since it is a part of them (as in Romans 11, Micah 4, Isaiah 2, Jeremiah 33).
It is not that the nation is intrinsically precious, but that God has made promises (Genesis 17:7ff.), and used it so that it is now the place where Christ died and rose, and is to be of central significance, not in and for itself, but as chosen, and not for the pride of Israel (Ezekiel 36:22), hardly, but for the glory of God, who will bring of its people a cloud, when the time comes (Romans 11:25, Zechariah 12:10-13:1), and bring glory to His name, so rich in mercy, so bold in plan, so deep in wisdom. It is not for nothing that Paul glories in this at the end of Romans 11.
As to Ezekiel, you see such prodigies of precise divine power as that forecast in Ezekiel 29:21ff., where Nebuchadnezzar, like a sword divinely unleashed to bring come-uppance to the mighty and the proud, receives a divinely authorised reward for his work on Tyre (cf. 30:24). Indeed, he would be (as he was) strengthened for the purpose, and duly carried it out. Moreover, there would be a divine determination to ensure that that same King of the Medes and the Persians brought to Israel what it required, that it might cease a benumbed and outrageous faith-fallacy towards the Lord, not trusting with the mind and heart, but seeking solace elsewhere, persistently, insistently (as in Isaiah 30, 37:10, Ezekiel 20), 23:19ff.). As it was to be, so it was, and the Cyrus cylinder concerning this same King Cyrus of Isaiah 44-45's prediction, this archeological exhibit, confirms after the event, what God affirmed beforehand. Ezra and Nehemiah were thick in the counsels of the Almighty, at the practical level, operating as you see as you read them, by faith, with an energy of conviction, and an assurance of the Lord.
But what of Nebuchadnezzar, in the preceding destructive phase, used as ruler of Babylon, when judgment was handed out to the nations in a prelude to the end, as in Jeremiah 25 ? Did he not carry out the divinely ordered tasks effectively ?
That reward for him ? It was the land of Egypt, a bounty which duly come into being for the rampant king (Ezekiel 29:17ff.). Amid the national and international calamities predicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel, then, there were some peoples for whom the prophecy brings a very detailed account. These include Israel, Babylon, Egypt, Tyre; and there is one specially selected for its vehement hatred of Israel, that of the Philistines (Ezekiel 25:15ff.). As in Obadiah, the Lord particularly hates the work of those bullies who, seizing upon the divine disciplines of a wayward Israel, seek to lord it over them and perform low and cunning intrigues to smite them with carnal vindictiveness and self-glorying.
You see this also in Isaiah 51:21-23, Jeremiah 51:1-5,33-35,45-50, while Ezekiel 29:12-16 shows that what has been a snare to Israel is itself accountable! in Jeremiah 12:14ff., we see the Lord dealing with those who, being Israel's "evil neighbours" dare to "touch the inheritance which I have caused My people Israel to inherit." He will pluck them out of their land, and Israel out of their midst; but return them, and IF they learn the ways of the Lord as given to Israel, then well. If they learn from Israel's sent prophets what is His way, then well, for then will Israel lead them back, as they earlier led Israel astray.
You see continually, it is not that Israel becomes a criterion, but the words of the Lord given through it; but since He has set Himself on their territorial place, He will keep that; and despite the fact that from the first (as in Leviticus 26, Deuteronomy 29-32), He has indicated that they will if continually rebellious, be removed by HIS OWN POWER from their land, yet the transfer is not thereby voided, only their claim in any kind of merit for it; and to them it will go, to be sealed as at the last, they come to Him; but then, it will be all one in Christ Jesus... yet not the enemies of the Lord. These as in Isaiah 26:10 NEVER learn; and will be taught as in Revelation 19, Micah 7, Isaiah 66, will the earth finds its place under His divine rule (as in Isaiah 11, Psalm 2, 72, 110), before its dismissal, like old clothes (Isaiah 51:6).
God is very deep; and shallow imaginations about Israel, on the part of bullies whose head moves from the clouds of vapidity to the pit of insipidity, but never finds the Lord, become mere opportunities to show the Lord's own importunity not only for HIS people, Israel, land of promise (Genesis 17:7-8), but for all who come to Him, the God shown via Israel (Isaiah 43:21), but definitively through the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Daniel 9 and Isaiah 49-55, whose free Gospel is an everlasting rebuke to those who seek to tear down what He upholds, whether it be a site for operations, the Gospel in which He has operated, or the Church of which those soon to come in Israel, back to this same Lord, the Messiah whom they as a nation crucified, will be part (Galatians 3:27ff., Zechariah 12:10).
Indeed, all will be part not of some ecumenical baby of philosophic thought, the word of God long severed from its base in the Bible, to make way for 'other things, other wings, that are stripped and fall', but of the body of Christ, and as this it is His people, ALL of them, who will arise as from the dust, in the resurrection cited in Isaiah 26:19, as in Psalm 16.
Israel-baiting is therefore a far more significant operation than appears; for it is not just that oil-rich Arabs and Moslems intimidate peoples for the sake of their oil and spoil, but that the Lord God of creation and salvation has a plan which this directly seeks to overthrow, appointing the false prophet Muhammad, as one of the many foretold by Christ (Matthew 24:24), without ground*1, as a contender to the God of the Bible, the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. It has been tried before by Israel, with very painful consequences; and will be tried again as in Ezekiel 38-39, with more, by others. It is a pre-occupation of the human race in its broad history, to disjoin from God and to smite whatever and sometimes even whoever adheres to Him; and this is a test of great depth and importance (as in Job!).
Those who exalt will be humbled, and those who seek to wrest many from the Lord, even with the sword, will find their shame. It comes; and it is near (Answers to Questions Ch. 5, SMR Ch. 8).
Yet having looked ahead, we must now revert to the lesson-room of Ezekiel, and consider with complete detail added from the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34), what He both said and did at that time, lasting lesson to those willing to learn.
To these images and outcomes, meanings and portents, we now look, for they brim with divine feeling, perspective and oversight, showing to our hearts some of the ways of the Lord. From this, we may all profit, believers or not, for the facts do not alter, whether you believe God or not; but rather they burrow into reason and demand an answer. That answer, if it comes with a removal of the obscuration of vision, and a faith to rely on the Lord, is of inestimable value. If it does not, then as in Ezekiel 18,33, at least the 'watchman' has warned; and who with the love of God would not LOVE to warn! What father would not warn his son of the end of his ways ... until they begin anew.
OF TREES AND TWIGS
A cedar appears in Ezekiel 17. An eagle takes a twig from the highest branch, and set it in a city of merchants. The meaning is given: Babylon came and took a royal person to its central city, yes and with him, many others of might and name, in order to abase Israel, and keep it abased. In fact, historically, this intent did not work, for God worked wonders again and again, in delivering Israel; but it did work in reverse. Babylon (as in Isaiah 13) itself would be abased, and indeed it was KEPT abased (as has happened and was foretold in Isaiah 13:20ff.).
So man proposes; God disposes (Proverbs 16:33). It is never wise to toy with the Lord, as if He were merely some other nation, ready to be outwitted, or outclassed in weaponry; for the ways of the Lord are very deep, and His wisdom is unsearchable; and as if this were not enough, He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9, Acts 15), and time itself is His creation, subject as His own means, to inspection at any point, as is shown by His predictions at any point, near or far, in detail, dynamic or perspective.
Meanwhile, in those ancient days which are our current lesson topic, another King in Israel was appointed. This we learn, and it was done by the ruler of Babylon. Indeed, a covenant was made with the smitten King of Israel, but this over time, he abused, as he sought to gain alliance with and help from Egypt (as in Isaiah 30, so futilely). God was determined not to bless such evasion and infidelity, and assigned defeat to that king, namely Zedekiah, who was indeed captured, his eyes put out and his sons slain before his eyes. Yet for all that, the dealings between the prophet Jeremiah and that King, were so remarkable that one must realise the IMMENSE MERCY which the Lord showed him.
Thus, even before these calamities, even when that same King of Israel was persecuting Jeremiah, he was given through that same prophet, an opportunity of delightsome proportions. What was this ?
IF Zedekiah had been willing to surrender to the Babylonian forces, before the fall of Jerusalem, then God was willing to guarantee his safety AND that of Jerusalem: for the Lord knows the end from the beginning, which does not in the least alter the reality of participating agents, though it does make their infidelity and foolishness the more obvious. That tender willingness, shown through the abused prophet Jeremiah, who had been put in a sinking well, was rejected by Zedekiah: why ? It was because he was afraid he could be mistreated by other captives, and WOULD not trust the Lord to deliver him. Such things are tantamount to self-condemnation; for if you WILL not believe in and trust the Lord (Isaiah 7:9), why blame Him for the lack of mercy, and the presence of blight! This is to be found in Jeremiah 38:14ff..
What was the word of God in His profound mercy, to sinning Israel in the days of equivocal and vacillating Ahaz: "If you will not believe, surely you will not be established," Isaiah 7:9.Since the term believe has in it an element of firmness, this is in some measure, a play on words: if you will not become firm, you will not be made firm. It was then so, it is now so no less. How can you lead a jelly!
This then was the meaning of the twig from the topmost branch in Israel, one taken to Babylon, as provided in text; and then more was to come, which would be translated into history. The King taken was Jehoiakin. After him, another would rule in folly, but the crux was to come. The new ruler in Israel, a land at that time overcome by Babylon, would continue under contract, but become rebellious and die (Ezekiel 17:13ff.). Alas, this unfaithful replacement King to come, Zedekiah, would not lead to any reformation or deliverance for Israel. The first twig was gone to Babylon, and the new ruler was gone to folly.
There was one, however, a very different twig to come, a transplant as it were from the soil of Israel to the heights to come when it grew, which would be the Messiah. We ponder the text.
But look! Now we see that the Lord Himself is going to take a tender twig (cf. Isaiah 53:1ff.), from a topmost branch of the cedar which is Israel (Ezekiel 17:22ff.), and plant it on a high and prominent mountain. THAT twig, being of the Lord's own cropping, will bear much fruit and give shade. "Under it will dwell birds of all sorts."
In view of Ezekiel 34, where the Lord Himself comes to do the work of the Shepherd of His people, since the important shepherds served themselves (34:8 cf. Luke 11:52), He becoming incarnate for the purpose (as in Hosea 13:14ff., Isaiah 7, 9, Micah 5:1-3), there is here found that combination of might and meekness so consistent with the Messiah. You see in Isaiah 53:1ff. which has a botanical analogue in this, that the Messiah is to grow up as a root out of a dry ground, while in Isaiah 32:1ff., it is seen that this same Messiah, when grown, is to provide shade (Ezekiel 17:23) for all the birds. Thus the Messianic work, expressed this way and that, is for all people (Isaiah 25:8, 56:7, 42:6, 49:6), yes it is provided for 'birds of all sorts'.
Elsewhere this shade is intensified into that of a Mighty Rock. It is in Isaiah 32 apparent that this is the regal alternative to mere selection upon selection from Israel, as in Isaiah 41-42, and 51-52, where transitions are made from failed twigs, hopes, possibilities from Israel itself, to the One who works, even "I Myself", the Lord as in Hosea 13:14. In other words, the divine translation is the eventual necessity. Known from the first, it is shown to the last.
That is precisely as in the movement from Isaiah 41-42, as the lack in 41 becomes the glory of the Messiah in 42, and 5-52, where the lack of counsellors (51:18) becomes the presence of something not only full of counsel but of redemption itself, so that with all the contexts near and far, one must apply the symbol of the twig to be exalted, giving shade to 'birds of all sorts' to the normal parallel in such cases, the Messiah. In other words, what man CANNOT provide, though he may try, God WILL provide; for He is both able and willing, and has long indicated what He will do. It is, this twig, by His action to come, Himself who being lowly, will be exalted in the earth, and growing, will be its only resource. At times, accordingly, He is referred to, as Messiah, as the Branch (Zechariah 6:12), again as the Shoot (Isaiah 11:1), or the root out of a dry ground (Isaiah 53:2), a 'tender plant' in such marked contrast to the brash, rash, impetuous, devious, deceitful, asininely aspirational outrushes of man.
The same reliance on the apparently weak, in contrast to the blatantly strong, keeps the record in a strong parallel parlance; and the Lord's OWN act as in Ezekiel 17:22, as distinct from the earlier reaping of the twig by a foreign potentate, brings the matter to its conclusion: what man cannot do, and needs, God will do, and will do it in a marvellous way. This will not be in the ostentation of mere power (which in principle, an idiot might wield, and of which this earth has seen more than enough), but in the realisation of immense vulnerability, thus showing by EXAMPLE, what is to be done, and in SITU enabling the penalty of sin to be borne by Himself (as in Hosea 13:14 and Isaiah 52-53).
Moreover, the complication that after the failed twig (King Jehoiakin) was removed by the foreign potentate, another king was used for Israel, who broke covenant, and fell in a prodigious manner, merely intensifies the point. Even if one calamity in weakness removes one line, yet this is not all, like some mere misfortune.
What then ? The first twig gone, then ANOTHER king is set up, this time strong in imperious will, and he fails for a misused strength, as the other for lack of strength. There is no solution but where strength has grace, God has direction and HIS planting is in view. As to that, it is one taken from His own hand in the most personal of ways, and precise of directions (Ezekiel 17:22), such as occurred in the emplacement and planting of the Messiah (Isaiah 7, 9, 32, 42, 49, 50-55), an act of prodigious peaceability, in that the ultimate cause of war, both among man and towards God, He Himself bore as in Hosea 13:14: namely sin. Thus He published peace (Isaiah 52:7), and spread it wherever in ANY nation (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), it was received.
Ezekiel is used to depict the matter, this divine substitute both in rule and in salvation, in Ch. 34 with a sustained imagery, where the shepherds who were SUPPOSEDLY attending to the flock, but in fact making them a means of their own advancement and pleasure, are replaced absolutely by the Lord AS HIMSELF, the Shepherd. It is He, who on site, does it right.
It is emphatic: I MYSELF will do it, the Lord says, with the same utter determination in Hosea 13:14. There He insists that He will take the curse to cure, meeting its just issuance with His own sufficiency, and so quashing it and abolishing death as penalty, bringing eternal life to light, having destroyed the grave as the final comment, by His own life (cf. Isaiah 53:5-6, 51:11, 26:19). Thus for those who are healed by His stripes, as in Isaiah 53, of these He bears the sins. That is what Isaiah is declaring so explicitly there.
The Lord Jesus Christ uses something of this figure, where the kingdom of heaven (He being King) is said to resemble what starts little (in another figure, like leaven in flour), but grows in power and effect. That is to be seen in Matthew 13:31-32.
So manifest is all of this, where figure in the past becomes history in the present, and symbol in spirit becomes substance in fact, that it can almost become commonplace to the unenquiring mind. Yet it must be realised that it is the exact opposite of this, being merely long known and often published. In fact, it is of the most intense and amazing magnificence, that the Messiah DID come, and DID bear death, and DID provide shelter, shade and peace, and DID suffer in the process, and DID die, and DID command life for evermore as He promised (as in John 5:24, 6:50ff.), which begins on earth in quality and continues for destiny into the future uninhibited by time's passing; for time is a mere invention for the present, and eternity is its consummation where particularity has its zenith, and the temple for the body eternal in the heavens (as in II Corinthians 5), becomes a new mode of living.
Israel has indeed been restored to its land, not only after the 70 year period of Jeremiah, but in time for the Messiah, who is to act effectually as Shepherd (Ezekiel 34), as King (Isaiah 9, 32, 11), and Ruler of the nations (Psalm 98:9, Psalm 2, Psalm 72, Psalm 110, Isaiah 2, Daniel 7). This is the first instalment, and how this world hates it, being tumbling over itself, now in intemperate haste, now in crafty cunning, seeking to remove Jerusalem from Israel, or Israel the land from the people, or indeed any combination which brings near the Lord in history, reality, redemption, whether illustrative as in the land, or substantial as in the Book of the Lord (cf. SMR Ch. 8, News 121, 122). .
Had Israel, for all the barren promises and evil contrivances of this world, not found again its land, then how could the Lord have had His feet touch down on the Mount of Olives (as in Zechariah 14:5), in movement to rule from Jerusalem (Micah 4); or how could the word of Christ in Luke 21:24 have been fulfilled, which set a TIME LIMIT to the exile of Israel from its land (as foretold in Leviticus 26), and made this coincide with that at which the "times of the Gentiles are fulfilled"!*2
That ? Gentiles need urgently to realise this: that they have had a wonderful opportunity for some 2000 years, to gravitate to, imbibe, be reinforced in the Gospel of peace, and have for all the sectional, partial and temporary responses AS nations that they have made, become lax, slack, call it post-Christian or what you will. Thus, there comes a period when the time is up. It may take a little while (as in Daniel 2's figure of the winds, when the stone of the Messiah strikes the habitat of the power of the Gentile nations), but it comes.
The current break-up of power and plenty (relatively speaking), for at least large sections of this world, leading to imperious impudences from almost anyone, anywhere, doing anything, using power atomic or merely with the sharpness of obliterative shrapnel, mixed with stricken flesh, is no accident. It is not only a matter of wars as in Matthew 24, increasing in fact and rumour (a magnificently brief atmospheric prediction, as well as one of substance), but of preoccupation with death, as by milling Islamic militants (a mood and mode predicted in Revelation 6 as the end of the Age draws near). These are some who seem often to be in rather a hurry to cash in on the assumed privileges of dubious morality, in a desired heaven, in exchange for mutilating others in a carelessly expansive manner.
What sort of God is this that they seek, when murder is his ostensible method, and delight is his reward for the slaughter of the innocents, while providing no slightest ground to reason, in competition with the Messiah, whose grounds always grow, and are found everywhere (as noted in SMR, TMR, Deity and Design ... and LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST, WHO ANSWERS RIDDLES AND WHERE HE IS, DARKNESS DEPARTS).
In imagery and in substance, we have seen much concerning trees and twigs.
It is time now, however, to move from land to sea, as we examine figures and formulae, symbols and imaginative terminology, together with the intensively prosaic, the point and the pith, in Ezekiel.
OF SHIPS AND SCUTTLING
Tyre! it is a word that evokes a colourful past, that indeed of no small empire, one coming from the base of no great island, no great territory. It was indeed in Ezekiel likened in its entirety to a ship.
In imagery, we see from Ezekiel 27, the city suddenly depicted as itself a ship, a seagoing vessel. There you see it before your imaginative eyes, its planks of fir tree, cedars from Lebanon, are fitted as its stout timbers, oak is for oars, ivory is for inlay, borne to it from Cyprus; and for oarsmen, there are people from Sidon and Arvad, and these become pilots.
The case is further reviewed by Ezekiel. Caulk for seams was in supply and the entire ship, Tyre depicted in naval motion, is set forth to deal in vastly drawn in merchandise. Troops were in abundance, and thus the image recedes back to Tyre itself, and there we fin dwarriors to help defend the city, hanging their shields on her walls.
Such was the imaginative flourish, showing Tyre as if itself a vessel committed to the seas, so vast was its maritime enterprise, so close were its ties to commerce and travel.
Nations doing business in reception or despatch of merchandise follow, such as Deda, Syria, Judah, Damascus, Javan: there was much "traversing back and forth." Purple was their clothing, embroidered garments were among their rich ware, as the entire business rocketed almost as if from sea to air, thrusting; but yet, it was all really centred in the sea.
Yet what is this now (Ezekiel 27:29ff.) ? for amid all this tornado of triumphant merchant business, do we not descry wailing mariners, who "cry bitterly" and even "roll about in the ashes", some making themselves bald with wild grief! The lament:
"What city is like Tyre! ... You satisfied many people, you enriched the kings of the earth with your many luxury goods and your merchandise."
This is not to glorify the city, but to establish grounds for the extent of the lament.
What, is it over already! Yes, alas, it is, for
"you are broken by the seas in the depths of the waters ...
All the inhabitants of the isles will be astonished at you ...
You will become a horror, and be no more forever."
Alas and alas for Tyre, so rich, a site of such brilliant entrepreneurial activity, such luxury items, in it such congregation of the works of many, such trading acumen, such colour and magnificence: but now ? not only is it gone, but gone not to return (as amazingly from a practical perspective, is the case, though that original site has much water!).
When then was this judgment opened from the sluice gates of heaven ? It was because
"you have set your heart as the heart of a god..."(28:7), and
"because your heart is lifted up, and you say,
'I am a god, I set in the seat of gods, in the midst of the seas,' "
THAT is why it happened. Sometimes a spoilt child will act as if he had no parents, or even as if his parents were mere servitors of his whim and desire. The thing is outrageous, atrocious, a fit work for sin city, a thing of defilement and folly, as if that which is not, became what is, and what is, became a myth, a shadow, a toy.
When it is done amid mankind, such things are an outage of wisdom; but when it is done as towards the God and Father of all, as Creator, it is such an intemperance so to conceive of oneself, that it knows no bounds. "Your heart is lifted up because of your riches," God proceeds. Based on wisdom in trade, it ascended as if to the heavens, as if the place were that of a god.
Is this to indict wisdom in trade ? Of course not: it was not the trade, which was a torrential and enriching thing in much, but the attitude, the uplift, the obscene precocity of self-deployment, every post a winner, every win an advent, every advent a place of more content and evasion from reality, as if life were from nowhere, owed nothing to any, and could take off from an advanced point, like a women's tee in some golf courses. It had proceeded as if it could pay no attention whatever to the fact that the whole course had first to be created, and that participants are not the architects, engineers, botanists, builders, schemers of designs, makers of rules, providers of rewards, but merely those who USE IT.
God moves in this Chapter 28 through Ezekiel, to see the spiritual centre and original for the sin that brings such a squalid end to such uplifted imaginations in Tyre. He indicts him, that evil spirit which is behind both such lust and activity, on the one hand, and such oblivion of truth, responsibility and gratitude on the other. Taking translation here from the NASV, we have this.
"You," He declares,
"had the seal of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.
"You were in Eden, the garden of God;
every precious stone was your covering ...
On the day that you were created, they were prepared.
"You were the anointed cherub who covers, and I placed you there.
You were on the holy mountain of God;
you walked in the midst of the stones of fire.
You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created,
until unrighteousness was found in you...
"Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty;
you corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendour.
I cast you to the ground."
The accusation continues of Tyre:
"All who know you among the peoples are appalled at you.
You have become terrors, and you will be no more."
How quickly, and in this case (as with Babylon -
Isaiah 13) how permanently is the thing done!
Rebuke to a savage irrationality and majestic defilement in a lustful pride becomes as intense as the evil, and the rebuke to the insufferable scamping of truth, rises to its task! Yet how sad is the sight of so much beauty, suddenly dismissed, like a great flying bird, an albatross found on the beach: just now, runs the thought of the French poem, was it a thing of majestic flight, so fine, but now ...!
Sad it is and mournful as a thing to behold, when massive potential sits lost, when the propulsions of majesty become the impulsions of ruin, when wisdom in some things becoming pride in all, and leads to ruin of all! It is present in the spirit of the young, of the middle-aged and of the old, this tendency to immortalise what is temporal, in one's proceedings, power or perspective, and thus to lose even the temporal exhibition of the thing in view.
It smashes empires, both political and commercial, makes a mockery of sliding churches, which do not heed the counsel of Revelation 1-3, leaves lonely and as a misfit what could fly with the eagle; so that now, abandoned, lying in ruins, is what many would have been content to delight in, and some even in folly, to worship. For this is the very kernel of the madness of man, that such as the devil in his 'beauty', glamorous appeal, may mislead, giving false information, producing character deformation, leading to degradation whether or not amid riches and fame, so that what had bid fair to become lovely upon the earth, becomes vile, and what admirable, a breach!
Your beauty, says one translation of Ezekiel 28:17, was corrupted by reason of your brightness.
Now that it might slide because of deprivation, harsh conditions, treacherous companions, this is one thing; but that its very brightness, its own, should become in it the guillotine of goodness, this is lamentable, and for a lament!
Yet what is to be expected!
" 'Will you still say before Him who slays you,
'I am a god ?'
But you will be a man and not a god,
In the hand of Him who slays you.
'You shall die the death of the uncircumcised,
By the hand of aliens,
For I have spoken,' says the Lord."
Such is the passing of Tyre, reduced in steps over history, and ruined by Alexander the Great in one massive sweep, as he used the very stone with which it had been build on the mainland, before the flight to the nearby island, to make a causeway to lead to its eventual destruction, even there. Such is the trust, whether of ancient Israel (sighting the false religion, for example of Assyria and besotted with it - as in the imagery of Ezekiel 23:5-10), or of other nations or individuals, institutions or organisations, when misplaced!
They become besotted with their philosophic, cultural, sociological, psychological, political idols (as in Isaiah 30:1-3, 31:1-3, with Ezekiel as above), and throwing themselves at them, gain nothing but an eminently deserved reproach, such as has ruined many a nation in more recent times, when the devilries of Darwinian myth are added to the follies of human self-trust and self-assurance. Many thus incited, act as if man had made himself and logic was an orphan from nowhere, and its applicability to the universe a thing of mere magic, so that for many, World War I could become a display centre for imaginary superiority, and World War II for a racial version in particular. It is now a shame as well as a shambles; but at the time, for many this was a due dynamic; while now it is a rueful memory for those so inclined. It is one to remember.
This being jejune, it was to be confronted increasingly by philosophies of liberty without Lord, and lordliness without liberty on the part of the Allies as their religious devotion declined from the Biblical path. Such was it in the first case above, and the second we see in their companion in arms, the USSR, which had its infatuation with matter make of that government more and more, a mindless fiasco in their penal abuse of man, seeking conformity to their myths through the abundant use of lust and torture. In the end, it did not work: how could it ? It was untrue*3. Human liberty is given huge rations for its long trans-Alpine hikes, so that the end and meaning can be on display often with a grand gravity; but in the end, they do not pan out. Hunger is followed by starvation; but in the evil ingenuity of the devil, these are made to seem variable, as if ever the same lesson had to be learned, now in this way, but then differently. It is not however so; and man is thus mulled and culled, made into such a bad learner that it is justly called a blindness (as in Matthew 13:13ff., by Christ).
God has often acted to awakened. In the day of Jeremiah, there was a list, a menu if you will, not of the culinary but of what had to be culled. Ancient Israel was in the list of those nations to be assailed, and that with good reason (Jeremiah 25:18, Isaiah 1, Amos 5:10ff., Zephaniah 3:3-8), but it was not alone, oh no! Many were the nations involved (Jeremiah 25), as driftwood in the currents of the day, smashing where they did not belong, and belonging more and more, nowhere. This was their plight in their losses, when Babylon, given temporary rule to rebuke, ruined them. As to that, her act, this was to be prior to her own ruin for miscarriage in the process. Indeed, it is in Jeremiah 50-51, that we see that most massive indictment of that empire: the Babylonian. Never abuse the power given you, for you will be called to account, near and far; and even if for a time, you have a place in remedy or justice, do not abort it with selfish intrigue or foolish unrestraint! If something is to be done for the Lord, add nothing to it, and take nothing away, whether in truth or in mercy.
As to this list of nations to be subjected to penalty, it was not short in Jeremiah's day, just before the devastation which came to ancient Jerusalem.
The list ?
Tyre figured in it (Jeremiah 25:22), and this is our present occupation to pursue, using the depiction found in Ezekiel 27ff..
Tyre, then, it was like a great and majestic vessel, and can give through imagery, its type and kind to many a nation and kingdom of the past; and its people did not handle it well. They sailed better on the seas of this earth, than in the ocean of truth.
In fact, so inept were they that the Lord saw to it that this, their ship, the very image of Tyre, was scuttled: it sank, never to rise. Its own follies seduced it; its own misuse of the spirit back of those oars, of the thoughts back of those enterprises, its own pseudo-self-sufficiency was its undoing; and thus, whatever its intention, this was the cause of its own ruin as surely as in scuttling the vessel by its own hands. If others actually carried it out, yet the cause lay in itself!
Let then those nations beware who are still befuddled with the exotic notion of greatness, to conserve, attain or to display it. There is a rhyme, The Higher they Fly, the Further they Fall. When you are based in the clouds, with however much pseudo-celestial equipment, the earth still awaits your fall. It is better to be founded on the Rock (Matthew 7:245ff., Isaiah 44:8, Psalm 62:2, II Samuel 22:31), than to be confounded in the clouds.
God does not fail, having predicted and predicated ruin in much, regarding many nations, always carrying it out *4, He makes Himself plain. Indeed, and further, sometimes in the Bible, He has been predicting and performing restoration, and that most eminently in the case of Israel, who was used to become bearer to the incarnation of the Messiah, as also to act as scribe for the provision of the written word of God to man, the Bible. Interestingly, despite all its flaws and faults, so exposed so vigorously by the Lord, it was Israel also which provided in the Lord the apostles also, who with the prophets formed a phase of the foundation of the Church of Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:19), within the basic foundation of Christ Himself (I Corinthians 3:10-11). He IS it, and they were used by Him.
It was thus that came the Saviour for the people of all the Ages, both earlier and later (I Timothy 4:10), with that one Gospel which Christ provided in Himself, by the purchase of the lost property, some of it so regained, even to be found amid those so harried and unholy, as was Tyre in type.
As they, the nations, took the cup of reproof, of the wine of their own grapes crushed, and it was bitter indeed with their own bitterness, as seen in Jeremiah 25, it was merely a temporary and temporal penalty; it was when the Messiah took the Cup at the Lord's Supper, that the transfer became so obvious (Matthew 26:27-30), even the betrayer exposed, though he crept into the night in his lostness. From such events, and rejection of the Redeemer by that power-that-was, the Roman Empire, and the people who erred, Israel in and through its ancient authorities, has earth's history come, and through them it goes; for there is no other name given among men by which they must be saved (Acts 4:11-12).
OF EGYPT AND ISRAEL:
A TALE OF TWO NATIONS
We move amidst this scene of divine scenario, projection, prediction which blending with announcement of what is to be, and pronouncement of the reasons, provides a stunning thrust of divine sovereignty. The fact that God has known, foreknown and specified the outcomes, and moved with His own dynamic as He will, moulding but never guilty of the evil, rather of its rebuke, this neither mitigates the reality of human sin and responsibility, nor removes the importance of human decisions. Rather, it accentuates these. In effect, the number is shown where it is vital and crucial, from the heart of man, and the result is shown from the heart of God, using such means, nations and events as He sees fit, always moving through what is there, the minds and hearts of that which is evil, or that which is receptive to Himself; and while so doing, He takes separate action to assure the plan proceeds.
Thus both the acme of human responsibility is preserved. and the acuity of divine decisions. God does not merely add a few items; in the midst, He is discerning, moving, bringing in delusion to chronic search for wantonry where apt, deliverance where its entry is found, neither disavowing human liberty, nor enabling human pretension. While sin obscures, with God it is clear; and He neither forces any to evil, nor prevents the outcomes in evil, where mercy has no place to come.
Egypt now comes into focus, in Ezekiel 28-32. This empire is seen as a bloated fish of huge dimensions occupying the Nile, from which it is dragged, to become feast for the birds. The river is mine and I made it! this is the mantra of Egypt; but it is not so. Ezekiel 29:9 has this outrageous naturalistic statement, mixed with self-glorying, and it is just like those who first put magic into nothing to make something legal and conformist, a universe, then put in more to have the something itself, then more yet to make it make itself by means never discovered in theory or in practice, so that it is there, though it is never on any one occasion, found to do such things.
Thus, though this folly of Egypt, this self-affirmation, this racial self-congratulation, this obsessive possessiveness, is hard to believe, yet it is neither worse than, nor effectually other than modern evolutionary theory. Even Aristotle, not blessed with such research means as are available today, saw design and order and arrangement in superb realities, and conceived that things were moving, each one, to the perfection of its type. He had a god of sorts, very separate too; and though this is a fundamentally flawed situation, since separateness is the last thing you need when the whole point is the laboratory-style invention of things - as it is, except that in the case of the Lord's work, the laboratory is in Himself, and the power to make what mutually relates, is from Himself.
Like the nations, maddened with pride and self-will, of this day, so was Egypt in that; and the Lord would not suffer it, just as He will not suffer this. Indeed, it is rapidly coming to its predicted end, just as was Egypt in its day. There is one massively aggravating feature to all this, and it is simply that then, several nations were in the process of massive rebuke, of which Egypt was simply one: but now all nations in the world are moving towards one central control which will become pseudo-divine, that is divine in its own estimation (as in II Thessalonians 2), thus completing a circuit of increasing madness which has gripped the cognoscenti, the glamorati and the literati in no small measure, for long enough. At that time, not Egypt only, but the entire globe is to face its rebuke (Matthew 24, Luke 21, Revelation 6-19).
As to Egypt, it is then likened to a great, blundering fish in the river, and as this monster is removed from the Nile, its native habitat, fish stick in its scales, while the land is denuded. NEVER again will Egypt be great, the Lord indicates; rather it will be a base, a secondary nation (Ezekiel 29:15). You see its fall under Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, as foretold, and you see even in the day of Anthony and Cleopatra, that this pair lost the great naval battle of Actium in AD 31, thus exposing Cleopatra to peril, and later Anthony himself when Alexandra was taken, and Augustus ruled on. Egypt, which had already weakened and parts of its empire taken by Rome, that next empire following Alexander as foretold by Daniel (Ch. 7-8), and here was its servitude complete.
As to Rome, it went on and up to its appointed destiny (Revelation 18-19), drab indeed. Though it was to continue, as it has done, moving towards the very end of the Age, being described as a mixture of iron and clay, of forceful zeal and weak flesh (Daniel 2), it is an increasing horror story.You see it described as the long-enduring final kingdom, among those that are spurious, in Daniel 2, and 7, in his list of the coming empires. Imperial Rome the last. It would continue in various forms as shown elsewhere*5, till the finale of its overthrow and devastation (Revelation 17 being the prelude, 18-19 the summation of its depravity and fall).
Back with Jeremiah 25, however, we are moving towards the advanced call of that day, for retribution among the nations, listed for their come-uppance, an acute prelude to a judgment yet to come. Egypt is one of these so paraded.
The list of those nations, which were to rule over it, is not short; and even when Britain did so, there was still a certain servitude. When Nasser was going to arouse it to glory, he failed abysmally - just as did Saddam Hussein with his weird visions of Assyrian power restored for Iraq, whereas in fact 'Assyrian' defeat was merely duplicated as foretold in Isaiah 24:23ff. and 30:27ff., with Micah 5. 5ff., following the annunciation of the Messiah in 5:1ff..
Egypt did NOT arise, did not regain, but was once more abased, as the Lord foretold in Ezekiel 29:15ff.. "They will not," said the Lord, "rule the nations any more." Nasser's escapade was devastated rather than devastating, and thids merely underlined the position divinely accorded to Egypt.
Not only, however, was Egypt involved as in the Exodus much earlier, in irrational naturalistic figments, merging these with imaginary gods, which the Lord humiliated at the Exodus, in His very choice of plagues (cf. Plagues 1, Dig Deeper ... Ch. 3, *2A), as if to mock their supposed beneficial power with the curse which came instead. That country was also a snare to Israel, which had a strong tendency to imbibe its errors and rely on its weight. It is in Isaiah 30 that the Lord mocks this folly, noting that here is flesh, but with Him is SPIRIT.
Thus we read in Ezekiel 29:16:
"No longer shall it be the confidence of the house of Israel,
but will remind them of their iniquity, when they turned to follow them.
Then they shall know that I am the Lord GOD."
Indeed, in the defining imagery, Egypt is also likened to a man whose arms are to be broken, whose strength is once and for all to be subdued; and there was even to be a substantial exile for many, whom the Lord would "scatter among the nations", at the hand of Babylon (30:25-26).
But what more is put ? It is this, that Egypt became as a great and beautiful tree, taller than the others.Consider the case: for after all, its idolatrous, naturalistic-mystical myth-gods were an intolerable hybrid of ruinous irrationality, surrounding powers of nature with vague personalities with peculiar foibles and interchange, as if to make some kind of a oneness which was neither God nor nature, but some hybrid oddity, where natural law and supernatural power were intermingled, the former misinterpreted, the latter merely imagined: this in turn, as if there were some kind of religious novel invented to supplement the imaginative myths of Greece, and her ludicrous naturalistic efforts (as noted in Spiritual Refreshings ... Ch. 13).
If you are going to reason about natural things, then causative climate is needed to trace what you are about (cf. SMR, TMR, Causes, Deity and Design ... 8); and if you are in search of its basis, then reason must pursue the matter with full attention to all aspects, till it find the confirmation as in LIGHT DWELLS WITH THE LORD'S CHRIST.
This tall tree, Egyptian civilisation, the nation, its head in the clouds (Ezekiel 31), was "lifted up in its height" (31:10); and the idols that were at its base (Ezekiel 30:13) made of the composite picture, one of pride, delusion and aspiration, such that only in degradation could its reality begin to parallel its place. Always a sensation of pride and vainglory, idolatrous, illustrious in mystic hopes and heights, it came to its abasement as an eagle pursued by crows, as a liner stricken in mid-ocean, as an aircraft zapped in the skies by lightning.
The tallest of the trees ? yes, as in Ezekiel 31, yet no twig comes from it, nor any Messiah from its ranks; for its entire scope is befouled, its entire atmosphere is astray, reality is far from it, and destruction is near. Indeed, instead of a sublime, heavenly incarnation, as was predicted for and found in Israel, at length, by the determinate plan of God, for Egypt there is a career, in its Pharaoh, in the world of the dead. There you see it, its Pharaoh in particular, and there summoned, they are found, defeated, stricken, inglorious. In this gloomy scene, the dissavour when the intoxication is gone, Pharaoh is seen joining now the other heads of State, exalted peoples brought down. With the rest, as one in the midst of the evils, as for others, "their iniquities will be on their bones" (32:27); for though this specific reference is for Meschech and Tubal, yet there is a certain correlativity, the one and the other mutually disgraced and degraded in one common lot. Theirs is the common lot.
For Israel, on the other hand, though its sins were multiplied and denounced acutely (as in Isaiah 1, 30), yet for them (as later for all), there was to come the twig of truth, the planting of the tree of triumph. This proceeds as in Isaiah 53, so in Ezekiel 17:22-24, and that, it is the form of introduction of the Messiah, the incarnate God of Ezekiel 34. It was there, as in many places, that He personally promised to come, as now He has come, the Shepherd of renown, the Lord of truth.
He declared that He, amid such betrayals of sincerity and fidelity among those on the earth, would come and do what had to be done HIMSELF! The world sighs and degrades, like mucky plastic, as it forbids His truth, defiles His gospel, ignores His teaching more and more, virulent with vice, atrocious with depravity, teeming with injustice, lordly with lies. Many are not so; but the schema and the aggravation continue as to the skies: as in Egypt, then, so with it now. That too, as in Matthew 24, it was to be, and it now is.
They were blind then, and the world is blind now. Pharaoh a little earlier, he was most blind then, at the time of the Exodus; and the coming 'Pharaoh', the man of sin of II Thessalonians 2, he will be most blind then.
Though Israel inherit the whirlwind, yet it has this: that through them would the Messiah come: even if they also had that, that He would be abhorred by the nation (Isaiah 49:7). In different ways, ALL are brought under the rod of judgment, as in Romans 1-3, and all need alike the ground of mercy in the Messiah, to rely on it (as in Isaiah 55, Titus 2-3). As to Israel, though it despised and rejected this same Messiah, when He came (as foretold in Isaiah 49:7, 53), yet when His return comes near, at His appointed time, to Him they will return. It is the most intense and extensive love-hate story in history; and it epitomises that of man.
There is thus, amazing in grace in God as it is, this prospect for Israel, that though they went so far as to crucify their and the world's own and only Saviour (I Timothy 4:10, Acts 4:11-12), yet it is only IN HIM, and THROUGH HIM and BY HIM, that any of them can be or will be saved; and when that predicted vast national movement of repentance sets in (rather reminding one in its biblical description in Zech. 12-13, of past revivals in England, Wales, Scotland and the USA in former centuries), then Israel will once more exhibit what it was sent to do, that praise and salvation belongs ONLY to the Lord.
As noted in It Bubbles ... Ch. 10, there are two stages biblically depicted as Israel first returns to the physical LAND, but only after this to the spiritual LORD. It is seen specifically and clearly in Ezekiel 36-37. as in Zechariah 12-13, some details of His earlier betrayal preceding in Zechariah 11.
Having then returned them to their land (Ezekiel 37), He next returns them in large amount, to Himself. It is this which Ezekiel 37 so decidedly shows in his two stage coverage of those coming events, the former of which is now 20th and 21st century history. There is no end to the Lord's enduement of His people, whether from Gentile or Israeli source, and Israel is to be kept without demise, through its many vicissitude, to its repentance, one to come with profound grief as in Zechariah 12:10ff., so that those in it who come in the last times (Romans 11:25), will find not only a land in which to be placed, but the Lord in whom to rejoice.
Nor is it only their own people with whom they come in joy, as the scene moves on (as in Romans 11:25 afterwards), but so it moves with a kindred rejoicing with all who believe (Deuteronomy 32:43, Romans 15:10), so that in this crescendo of Christ-born and Christ-borne delight, with the rest of the Gentiles who have found Him the same (Isaiah 11:10, Romans 11:27ff.), there is delight even in prospect expressed by Paul (Romans 11:30-36). Hence arrives that blessed medley wrought by the wisdom of God, through this very opening of the eyes not only of Gentiles episodically, and likewise those of many Jews, but through this great drama of that very same salvation for very many in Israel, near the end. This is even that climax for Israel noted by Paul, that in their very unity and concourse of identical faith, Jew from the first, Gentile to the last, they might all show the sheer splendour of the composition of so much, so very different, by the one comprehensive brilliance of the divine plan and counsel.
Thus is divulged for all, that very same in essence, both in the major categories of sin and the realities of salvation, each becoming like neck and head, one bride, one accomplishment, with one wedding so happily exhibited in Revelation 19:8, with results applied later in the Chapter with His coming with His saints as in Jude, Zech. 14:5, and I Thessalonians 3:13, indeed as it is repeatedly written, ALL of them.
Believing Gentiles will rejoice with them (Deuteronomy 32:43, as cited by Paul in Romans 15:10, with the milieu for it all as in Romans 11). The whole will come as bride with Him, and the earth will be filled with the glory of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, while the works of the millenium are wrought, in the time the Lord appoints for it, before all the works of this world disappearing in the sound and dissipation spoken of by Peter, a new heavens and a new earth appear as one in its reality just as Jew and Gentile contingents to the one Gospel of the one grace of the one God, have brought them all together with this one God and His one Redeemer in one wonder of oneness, which Paul found so glorious as in Romans 11, even before it came, as if it were with him already.
On Islam and such affairs, see the following.
More Marvels ... Ch. 4, esp. *4,
SMR pp. 829ff. , 1080
Dancers, Prancers, Lancers and Answers Ch. 3, *1A misconceptions about the Cross, variable and mutually conflicting, on the part of the Koran
Lord of Life Ch. 3 (and force), 1081ff. (and faith), Outrageous Outages ... Ch. 5;
His Wounds Opened Eternity Ch. 4; 3
Stepping Out for Christ Ch. 9,
Tender Times for Timely Truth Ch. 8 (in perspective), see also *1,
DVA 6, Highway to Hell
Divine Agenda Chs. 6, 3 (an overview of religious truancies, including Marx, Darwin and Koran);
Highway to Hell (Koran citations in both, with ideational parallels in perspective, in the former; and in the latter, futile depravities in endless ideologies such as Sudan has shown so significantly, Islam ablaze without glory),
cf. Overflight in Christ Ch. 1 (and the Koran's musings);
1493 (esp. Britain and sharia);
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7,
Jesus Christ, Defaced, Unfazed ... Ch. 5,
Acme ... Ch. 9 , Great Execrations ... Ch. 3,
SMR p. 1O88D - three major religions in some ways in concert, astray;
News 138, Beauty for Ashes Chs. 4, 7, SMR pp. 1074ff., esp. 1079, 1081ff.
(These latter show this religion, with the other three major conspiracies towards the ultimate - why conspiracies ? It is because men conspire, or breathe plans together for a control, rule or oversight not ordained by God: these are breaths of man, and the breath that matters is that of God, in and by which all scripture is inspired by Him (II Timothy 3:16, Isaiah 8:20), in the Book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16), the Bible, and sustained and implemented by Him (Matthew 26:54ff.). Other ideas for rule are always unruly, since they always tend to use power for what neither reason nor truth compels.).
See also SMR pp. 822ff., 986ff., 1O88D.
FULFILMENT - AS SUCH, AND AS A FULNESS
The End of a Period and the Completion of Its Surge
A point arises here. It is interesting, in terms of biblical accuracy, which has more to cover than does science, in this, that it has to stand over thousands of years uncorrected, whereas science often changes rather radically in some things, in a decade.
It is, in fact, high time that the pseudo-idolatrous concept of science should be abandoned (cf. Scientific Method ...). To what does this refer ? It is not to the 'science' part as a procedural specialty within logical disciplines, and a mode of enquiry; but the reference is to the Science, as if it were some sacrosanct source, rather than a site of investigation where sometimes dishonest, deceitful, impulsive, culture-conforming persons show their tainted wares like Tyre (cf. Lord Zuckerman's Beyond the Ivory Tower), and sometimes talented people draw careful conclusions, of great merit, though later needing revision. As to the latter, it is in that more pure case, like a murder trial in which far more data concerning it, from time to time, become available, changing in effect, what has to be 'solved', whether as to why, or how it came about.
Let us look at the biblical case for one moment.
Thus in Romans 11, we find that when the FULNESS of the Gentile period has come, THEN Israel's eyes are opened. In what sense ? It is in this: then a whole epoch of non-belief on the part of the nation ends dramatically, emphatically and radically.
That is yet to be, though it is fascinating to behold the various movements in Israel, and the modes of divine control as it is on the one hand, given its place back as guaranteed so often (cf. It Bubbles ... Ch. 10), and on the other, surrounding with interfering nations, who for all that suffer for it, as is now the position (Zechariah 12 gives them Jerusalem as a 'burden'). How many have had their national fingers burnt in this fire!
The time is to come, however, when the strength of Israel seems gone: so it is from the Lord, who is their actual strength that it comes, as in Deuteronomy 32:36ff., and Micah 7. The action of the Lord then as in Isaiah 66 likewise and Joel 3, brings ultimates close with great address.
That is the period of the FULNESS of the times of the Gentiles - when that period is really all over, and the millenium*6 approaches, the saints, that is the believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, being removed, and restored to Him, who now comes. It is then that this period comes with an historic totality. Then is the rule of the Divine Royalty, in which is no flaw, duly arrives, of the Christ, the Lord, who having died once, dies no more (Revelation 1:19).
The FULFILLING of the Gentile period, on the other hand, as in Luke 21:24, is less stringent in its phrasing. Here the biblical depiction indicates in that time-frame, that His coming is 'near' (Luke 21:28).That is, it is relative to the period in view - now 2000 years (cf. Answers to Questions Ch. 5), that this is so. Thus, when this happened in 1967, confirmed in 1980, before long, there would come a thing of splendour. It would be a time when what had been fortified, is weakened, what had seemed secure is troubled, when there is a turning of the wheel, a change of disposition of Jew and Gentile. No more will it be so obvious that a relatively righteous Gentile mass (at least in its own declarations, as in the Inquisitions, which afflicted Jews as well as Christians) is at odds with a simply unbelieving Israel. Times then change, ready for the more precise changing of the guard.
That, which is more definitive, it is that massive impact of many conversions to Jesus Christ in the land of Israel, as Zechariah 12-13 foretold, and Romans 11:25ff. confirmed. It means in context, that the time of Christ's return is near. The special two-fold feature of JEW as jewel, as display unit for the Lord, and then MANY NATIONS when they come, and as and to the extent they come, as substitute, is now covered. Israel is now in view not only for site, but for spiritual sight. Gentiles become almost as Israel, rich in unbelief, strong in erratic religion, deep in the mist of disobedience. The sharp contrast is consigned now to history.
That comes first; and it has come (cf. News 121, 122).
The FULNESS of the Gentile time as focus, during that of Israel's excision, that is, while they are the ruling and relevant graft in the tree that God has planted, as in the prediction of Romans 11:25: this is close but not identical. It intensifies the concept.
What then ? The "fulness" indicates a completeness, a maturity in kind, that nothing to the point is left over, at least in substance. The "fulfilling" merely makes the class action clear: in type, the thing is now done. Added to this, the FULNESS, means it is definitively ALL done now. There are two stages of consummation.
When Israel awakens, this is tantamount to a thing of virtual immediacy. That is the Romans case for its large degree of conversion, in the most dramatic, crucifixion-of-Christ sense, amid repentance, as spelled out in detail in Zechariah 12-13. When Jerusalem is back with Israel (as in part, in 1948 and altogether in 1967, and as politically defined, in 1980), on the other hand, then the end of the Age is near.
It is WHEN, as is soon to come, this conversion becomes an international display unit, without glamour, but without capacity for denial, then the final motions are on display!
On Communist antinomy, see for example, the following.
Aviary of Idolatry, Delusive Drift or Divine Dynamic Ch. 5,
News 37. 44, 69, 97 (the exploiters, the fanciful,
the Communists, the de-godders and the realities), 98,
News 150 - Taiwan,
The Grating Grandeur and Aggrandisement of Man,
and the Meekness of the Majestic Messiah Ch. 2
Beauty for Ashes
Hong Kong, and the movement
of nations in the last century a concern),
Tender Times for Timely Truth
SMR pp. 925ff., 971-972;
Beauty of Holiness
(war and force, rising downwards, Tiananmen and truth),
Ch. 4 (liberty, Tiananmen, worship and its direction in time, its terms and code of truth); History, Review and Overview Ch. 1,
Impossible to Men, Open to God Ch. 5
See also Lord of Life Ch. 8.
See for example, The Pitter-Patter of Prophetic Feet ... esp. Ch. 4, and SMR Chs. 8 - 9.
See SMR pp. 886ff.,
Highway of Holiness esp. Chs. 3-4, 7-9, esp Ch. 8,
BB 1, cf. DEIDES 2 as marked. BB 2.
Highway of Holiness Chs. 2-10 (esp. Ch. 8): covers much in 9 chapters of the prophecy;
a further assemblage on Daniel is found in AGGG 1-5
For more on the development of the 4th Empire, that of Rome, see:
SMR pp. 902ff., and Highway of Holiness Ch. 10.
See also EMPIRE in Index.
See Ch. 4 below.