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(II Timothy )
These are Biblical presentations, expositions, alerts, so that the Biblical Workman may be stirred to deeper study, and so all may together grow.
Jeremiah is more than Jeremiad
The Love, the Power and the Pity
We adapt this from one of our News Items.
It concentrates on Jeremiah 30-33.
called a 'renegade' Saudi,
of various address including
allegations of munitions factories, commando training and networking of powers
in favour of Islam for war-and attrition-waging, such
efforts are largely futile. GOD has His own arrangements, and despite the
bombing of embassies of a major political power helping
Be bin Laden this time
guilty or not, it is God who will have His way with
False prophets will not stand;
munitions will not;
bombing will not, and war will not;
force will not work against the Almighty,
nor guile nor wisdom of this world.
The world, incidentally, does not belong,
nor does any part of it, to aborigines, to military victors, to grabbers and gainers or mutilators,
neither to the swift nor to the slovenly,
nor does the
belongs to God who made it , and gives it to whom He
will. Allowing the
nations their chance to seek Him, He moves history on, the slightest seeming to
gain, the greatest to fall quite often, while the moral forces so often slighted - but not, incidentally by
Shakespeare whose realism in this has lasting appeal, nor in the end,
successfully in history - lash and buffet, and
God directs the final scenario
(cf. Amos 2:13-16, What is Life For ?
Buffet? Not only is this so in judgment, but even in the vexatious turbulence of the increasingly sordid human heart of today, where they still tear and rupture chambers of life in many, which they did not even know they so much as possessed. It is like a puncture: you may not know you have it, but you will know when the steering fails because of it.
But man is vulnerable to His trademark, and susceptible to His judgments, and the history shows with sometimes a sort of Punch and Judy show drama, the destruction of follies so often acclaimed at first as triumphant wonders: like the civilisation of Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, with its ruined Nineveh, Napoleon, Hitler, Moscow with its evil empire indeed and Japan with its rising sun mania. The wheel turns, but the axle is not broken. God speaks in the end, and in the meantime, His word speaks and is being done.
Watching this week the
mangled ruins of embassies and the true or false allegations of bin Laden's guilt, and having the news of his warnings and
threats against the
Today, let us look at the
Note at once:
1) The Jews will not be glorified. It is GOD who alone will be glorified on that day (Isaiah , Ezekiel 36:19-22).
2) The efforts to remove them will not succeed.
3) The trouble lies critically in this, that three religions, all mistaken, are in the Middle East in force (not to mention others), the mass idolatrous Romanism*1, the Allah-inventing Moslem, at war with the God who DOES HAVE one unique Son whom He sent from heaven, while these acknowledge NO SUCH GOD*2; and that of the Jews.
As far as the last is typed, it is from the Old Testament which gives the land of Israel to them, and in the end to a remnant to return to the Lord Jesus Christ, forming a contingent (and nothing more in spirit) of the Christian church.
This however is not yet;
for the Jewish nation is not yet returned to the Lord, and so He is not yet
returned to them, in His NEW Covenant, shared with all Christians. This is what
the Bible teaches, as we shall no proceed to show. Thus the
turmoil. It is exceedingly complex; and neither
bin Laden nor the
examine the position a little, this time using mainly Jeremiah, so that with
Ezekiel and Isaiah, as often shown in the past, we may stress this additional
component in the matter in hand. As we shall see, Jeremiah is far more than
JEREMIAH AND EZEKIEL ARE IN CONCERT,
LIKE ROWERS IN AN EIGHT
In Prophetic Concert
JEREMIAH has his own signals from the Lord, his flagship, to disperse to mankind. However, as always in the Bible, there is a vast perspective in common among the prophets, regardless of the identifying particularities of any one inspired writer.
We have traced the teaching in Ezekiel regarding the return of the Jews in various places, especially Ch.9 (e.g. pp. 776-794), and Appendix A in SMR. There is scalding rebuke, opportunity for repentance (Jeremiah 29:6-11) with hope to come. This however depends on whole-hearted
1) acceptance of the Lord's discipline and
equally deep and real, earnest and longing approach to God, when -
"you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart" - Jeremiah 29:13.
It is then they will -
"call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you."
Then too "I will be found of you..." (Jeremiah 29:12,14).
Yet from the false prophet phenomenon (cf. Jeremiah 23), by which efforts are made to circumvent the judgments of the Lord, instead of trusting in His mercy (29:15ff.), there is only devastation for that abuse of mercy.
Now let us look concertedly for a moment at Jeremiah 30-33.
In Jeremiah 29, then, there has been a topical, contemporary message to the captives concerning their own futures, conditions and hope; their judgments and the utter character of these, when recalcitrance instead of acceptance is to be found.
In Ch.30, the topic is
return to the land. However, that being announced (30:3),
there is an interpolation, both literary and historical, of extreme trouble
(30:5-7). It is indeed "the time of Jacob's trouble". Nevertheless, issuing
from it will be a returning to the Lord and a deliverance
Acutely aware of the
So precise and particular will this be that there arises a sense of restoration, of complete separation from the earlier wanderings of their national history. No more is there any sense at all of their vagaries, their dangerous and sometimes deadly vicissitudes, their from the in-the-Lord, away-from-the-Lord, acceptance-rejection situation. The position here described by the prophet is new.
This categorical restoration brings marvellous joy (30:19ff.). That drastic and unique historical past will be replaced. In time to come, not ruled by another force or nation (30:21), they will in fact find the Governor so often spoken of (cf. Jeremiah 23:5-6), the Messianic son of David, whose nearness to the Lord is intense, immense (30:21), with an intimacy with the Lord expressed in language with its own individuality; and in those terms,
will be added to them, as we shall see, but their own contingent has its crucially individual historical past and characterisation accordingly. They are in focus. An
eternity of blessedness is to come after "the whirlwind of the Lord" and it may be
considered, says the prophet, "in the latter days". It is here stylised for the events of the post-interim period, the
eschatological culmination. it is here that the
irrevocable blessedness is found to abound. It is here that the Messiah will
WHEN... WHEN... WHEN? is this to be. Have not the Jews suffered as Hosmer in his History of the Jews shows with a graphic horror to match any TV production regarding World War II, during the Middle Ages been afflicted acutely by allegedly Christian nations. It is one thing to protect the purity of one's religious faith, quite another to torture and despoil those who do not share it!
It is indeed, one thing when Joshua is commissioned in a judgment long restrained, to occupy a land specifically spared for hundreds of years (Genesis ,16 - "the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete", Exodus 6:6ff., ), before the divine action. When that action does come towards the inhabitants settled there for so long, and Joshua invades, it is as an overwhelming, long-prepared moral rebuke from the Almighty.
That is one thing; but it is quite another when individuals are harassed to make them Christian (a ludicrous enormity), as if their faith were a subject of pain, not of the gracious enlargement of the heart from the Lord! (Cf. The Shadow of a Mighty Rock - SMR - within Appendix D, at pp. 1175-1186C., and esp. *3 on p. 1186A.) Spiritual fraud in using violence to gain lip-service is wholly corrupt, frequently practised and as far from worshipping God in spirit and in truth as can be imagined (cf.John 4:23). It is vile violence and irrelevant rambunctiousness, irrational, irreverent, blasphemous in spirit, worthy of contempt. But what of actual salvation, and in particular for the Jews ?
The time when this access of faith is granted to the Jewish people in a characterisable number (as in Romans 11 cf. News 21 and Appendix News in Biblical Blessings) is "in the latter days" and it is then that "you will consider it" - says Jeremiah 30:24. There is to be a judgment of world-wide dimension, correlative with the occupancy of the wicked, and it is then that these things will be (Jeremiah 30:8,16-17). Jeremiah 31:31,33 shows the covenant announced, but its actualisation in the mass of Jewish hearts, "after those days" when it is pronounced.
Indeed (Jeremiah 31:1), it
is at THIS TIME that God will show His sovereignty over the land in a new
access. His love is an 'everlasting love', and the true worship of the Lord, the Messiah, will be a
national reality (30:9), overseen in this phase by David the King, who of
course is the Davidic descendant, the Messiah (Isaiah 11). . From the "ends of the
cf. Psalm 72), He will restore the physically dispossessed and spiritually
wandering former nation to show forth His praise, to His land (30:9).
The LORD, famous for Egyptian deliverance as often seen in the Psalms, is now to be internationally notable for the restoration of this people, for "He who scattered Israel will gather him" (31:10). So intense will be their spiritual joy, that they "will be like a well-watered garden", redeemed (31:11-12). There will be a satiety in the abundance of blessing (31:14).
However, as this "latter days" defined time is held like a tableau in mural extensiveness before our eyes, suddenly a jarring intervention is heard. 31:15 is the famous reference to the acute sorrow of many Jewish mothers,
So here we are faced with another ground of grief preparatory for the comfort which is to be, in passing to a new and better clime than occurred for this people at that time. Historically of course this way-station of grief is abundantly fulfilled in the 'slaughter of the innocents" under Herod, when his kingly fears of the predicted Messiah inclined his often murderous heart to add yet one more crime, this unthinkable assault on the babes, in an effort to remove a potential regal threat! It was more than a threat, and his knowledge of prophecy should have shown him that no threat could be met by such means as this. He went to his place, but so did many Jewish babes, to theirs...
In the light of this, and in its face, God re-assures them forecasting with knowledge allowing them to see this as one phase of the painful journey to their eventual return to the sure knowledge of the Lord: "Refrain your voice from weeping" - 31:16. The people "shall come back". "There is hope in your future" - 31:17.
Thus we look to the time of the Messiah, moving through 31:18ff., where there is a dramatic and poignant, a vivid picture of a Jewish resurgence of repentance in the tenderness of the Lord's patience, one showing a depth of repentance and anguish of heart for sin on Israel's part, and a grace of beautiful kindness in the Lord,
Yet even in the light of this, comes a knowing remonstrance, "How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter?" and then this amazing forecast:
Here only is the transformation ground - this "new" thing that can transform the "backsliding daughter", the Jews who forsook the Lord, to the realm of blessing (30:23,26,31). Now Jeremiah has sleep which is "sweet" (31:25-26), for the Lord has satiated the weary soul (cf. Isaiah 4:6; 32:1-3; 55:1-3; 11; Psalm 72). A devastating future dispersion (31:27 cf. Isaiah -11), however, is in view before the categorical return to " watch over them, to build and to plant' says the Lord" - 31:28).
The "new thing", and the "new covenant", with the new blessings are highlighted. The "new thing" is indeed startling. It is a universe first, of universal significance, for the blessing through the seed of Abraham was not only for the Jews, but for "all nations" (Jeremiah , Genesis 12:3, cf. Psalms 72, 97, 73).
Thus, "The Gentiles
will come to Thee from the ends of the earth and say,
"Surely our fathers have inherited lies,
Worthlessness and unprofitable things."
As to the Jews, in Jeremiah 32:37-40, we see them brought to their land, to their everlasting covenant, and at their return, 'then', "I will given them one heart and one way, that they may fear Me forever, for the good of them and their children after them." God then acts "so that they will not depart from Me."
Thus are they introduced to their new covenant, the good thing predicted, and the Davidic descendant, the Messiah. It is an introduction of Him who is to be inseparable, associated with return, but it is "after those days" (Jeremiah 31:31-33) that the new covenant is operative in their hearts, for it is to the reigning Christ they come in the end, and this, it is after the crucifixion, and indeed, their own wailing for Rachel's slaughtered children.
While their initial return, that from relatively near Babylon (after 70 years, as predicted in Jeremiah 25) is to blessing and restoration of land, it is conditional (cf. Jeremiah 12:14-16, where the special perspective of the lands that share with Israel in Jeremiah 25’s judgment, is exhibited, and 18:6-11 as in Leviticus 26, where the general condition applicable in the Old Covenant to the nation is noted, and 7:9ff., 6:27 where it is illustrated). Yet their final and fateful return is to a covenant never to be broken, a blessing never repealed and an inheritance never to be lost.
As to THAT
time, it is secret (until Daniel 9, when it is declared in terms around what we
now call 30 A.D. - the death of the Messiah as the necessary commencement - cf.Isaiah 52-53). In Jeremiah 23, we see the predicted
signals; but is not sufficient for the second. The first suggests, but the
second substantiates. The first prepares but the second confers. The first
enables, but the second performs. In-between is the sacrifice of the Messiah in
which Isaiah and Daniel specialise. Jeremiah focusses mightily in his great and might things to come,
but the others fill in some of the interstices, the horror yet to be
perpetrated before the glory of the Lord should make the very walls salvation
(Isaiah 60), thus betokening in a figure, the profound change to come (as in
Isaiah 59:19-20, Zechariah 12:10). Indeed in that time
Much water, then, had to pass under the bridge of sighs, before then! The "great and mighty things" (Jeremiah 33:3) to come are indeed, at that time, far off, and in "the latter days", when the blessing is indefeasible, the restoration is eternal (Jeremiah 31:34,40; 30:21-23). Specifically, it is in that rigorous and eventful time that "the whirlwind of the Lord goes forth with fury" (as in Zechariah 12-14, Ezekiel 38ff.), that is likewise after the crucifixion (cf. Isaiah 66:3-24, Zechariah ). When David is to reign, when the virgin has delivered her child, when the wailing of the slaughter of the innocents are all complete, then and then only is this new and everlasting covenant operative as a major entrant in the land, to which the Jews in their time, are to return (Jeremiah 33:12-16).
conditions apply on land tenure, and indeed fury was yet to come (cf. Zechariah
11:12ff), to cover the case of chronic recalcitrance (cf. Isaiah 30:8ff.)!
NEVER till the Messiah was received, would they be stable.
Let us now consider in some more detail this phase of the matter.
That this prodigious divine intervention would be, was clear from Isaiah, when the virgin was child-bearing (SMR pp. 770ff., 766), and where "the mighty God" was to be one of the names of the one who would have an eternal rule in peace, having "prince of peace" as the foregoing and dramatically announced name (9:6), before the assignation of the ground for it in the performance of eternal rule to be made visible in its time, on this earth (Isaiah 9:7). Such was to be the Messiah, who, with such a title could have no sin, and whose therefore could be nothing less than an incarnation. Surely a woman would encompass a man in the sense than there would be no other biological component, and this startling reality would encircle the situation in a way so novel it would be called altogether "a new thing". Thus the Lord announces, just as through Isaiah in Chs. 7,9, the coming of the New Covenant (seen in Isaiah in 42,49,54 etc.).
This is shown in the notable Jeremiah 31:31ff. passage to come, where the law of God would be written on the inward hearts of the people and time-serving superficiality would be overturned. The Lord is so determined to make it clear that this will be for His people, who thus will be constituted a new people on a new covenant in a new way, that he says,
He proceeds to reinforce even this, referring in local detail to the rebuilding of the city (cf. Zechariah 12:6 where the same geographic intensity reaches a climax of its own).
Now it is clear that this
is post-Messianic, in the same sense as Zechariah 's reference to Jewish repentance
for crucifying the Messiah is necessarily and obviously post-Messianic: not
that the Messiah is outdistanced, no, not at all! but
rather this, that His rejection is past, and His sufferings are done with! THIS
is the time to rule! (cf. Luke 24:25).
Obviously, as to this "latter days" phenomenon (30:24) -
past the lament for the innocents which came right in the midst of the announcements of blessing (30:15),
just as the earlier return, from Babylon (after a 70 year predicted exile - Jeremiah 25), came before the later devastation
so fatally following the rejection of the Messiah (cf. Zechariah 11:4-12, Leviticus 26, Daniel 9:26-27), itself so abundantly prophesied in Isaiah and the Psalms:
it now comes.
Thus at this vast distance in time from the day of the prophet Jeremiah (cf. I Peter 1:10-12, II Peter 1:21), this permitted peek, if you will, at the discerned view of things to come, things indeed "great and mighty" in kind (33:3), there is here AN END to the devastation OF Jerusalem (33:10-16, 32:39-40) quite different from the almost endless devastation accorded TO it, from A.D. 70 to 1948, as projected by Daniel (9:27b), following the devastation wrought ON the Messiah (9:26, cf. Isaiah 49:7, 53). With that vast past over, we come to the "sleep is sweet" new thing, so refreshing to the prophet.
And this ? It is all through and in terms of a "new covenant" and "a new thing" parallel with it (Jeremiah 31:31, 31:22)*3.
It is thus that the "backsliding daughter" becomes a blessed people and hence, Jeremiah's sleep is sweet (31:21-23). Now they will be brought back to being "My people", while the Lord is "their God", and they have "one heart and one way" (32:30). Indeed, now they will "fear Me forever". In other words, the time spoken of in Zechariah 12-14 is at hand, and the mighty victories of the Jews are in train, just as happened in 1948, 1967, 1973 and indirectly, 1991. THAT is fulfilled, and the repentance to the pierced Saviour is to come; but not quite yet.
Let us listen in our hearts to the music (perhaps remembering from Handel's Messiah), that sings with these phases as set forth in Scripture, the rejection ("He was despised" - Isaiah 53:3), and then that marvellous lifting up of the heads of the "gates" as the King come striding through to possess His possessions, spiritually first and then in outward splendour that the earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea, as Habakkuk puts it. And how beautifully does the Psalmist, David dwell on this spiritual "return" in which one passes through the gate, that righteous gate, that rejected gate (cf. John 10:9, 27-28), just as reciprocally, HE enters in through the gates of the "temple" of our hearts (Psalm 24:7-10). We ? All those who believe (cf. Isaiah 53:1,4-5). And as to this righteousness, David declares,
mouth shall tell of Your righteousnesses,
and Your salvation all the day,
For I do not know their limits.
I will go in the strength of the Lord God;
I will make mention of Your righteousness, of Yours only" - Psalm 71:14-16.
Thus, after reviewing in
Ch.32 the more immediate foreground again, Jeremiah, and again STATEDLY (33:3),
deals with the consummation of vast scope, in future terms, fashioned by the
divine plans. Thus the "defence" of the
cf. Deuteronomy 30:20-21 with 30:36-43, the last quoted by
Paul in Romans 15:12).
It is then that the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people are exhorted to "rejoice with His people", to accompany "His people" with their own rejoicings from beyond them, so that both peoples, the first and the others, should rejoice! The "nations" or Gentiles are to superadd their testimony of joy to that of the Lord's people, and again, statedly so!
As with Ezekiel 37, this is to have two fascinating criteria: it is a restoration which is not to result in further devastation of the city (Ezekiel 37:23-26), and it is to be one in which the Lord is in the end to be acknowledged as He really is. At that time, in repentance the 'pierced' Messiah is to be acknowledged, accepted and indeed, there is much to repent of at the national level (NOT so much at the racial, for many Jews have long been Christians, and the apostles? THEY WERE JEWS! - and Christ was Jewish through His mother, when it comes to that).
Ezekiel 37, as shown in Appendix A,
SMR, we gain the detail here. The restoration physically and geographically is
to precede that spiritually, which is given in that place in scripture as a
SEPARATE and SUBSEQUENT command to the dry bones, reconstituted first, but only
later and separately made alive, a people who as in Ezekiel 36, first come and
then are sprinkled, however objectionable that might seem to those of the Baptistic persuasion, and for that matter, sprinkled with
water at the outset of the covenantal proceedings (cf. Ch.8, p. 144 infra). Future to the return,
however, it obviously and necessarily is. They have to be there, to be
sprinkled, and for the point, they are BROUGHT there and THEN sprinkled, as we
see in Ezekiel 36. Their return is as NON-CHRISTIANS, and their re-instatement
is as specified in the dynamic outpourings declared to come, in Zechariah
THE COMPLEMENTARITY OF THE PROPHETS A CONTINUING MEDITATION
Accordingly, and with that beautiful complementarity of the prophets which so precisely resembles that of the New Testament writers and the apostles, we find that
JEREMIAH'S EXTREME EMPHASIS
God again stresses astronomically, His irreversible intentions (33:19ff.). In that way, we find that it is just as far from being a merely Jewish phenomenon, far less a specifically Jewish spiritual situation, as it is from not being a special dealing on the same basis with the Jewish people. It is neither abstracted from geography and covenantal promise to Abraham, nor abstracted from the universality of the New Covenant. It has universality of covenantal relevance, and specificity of covenantal complement for the Jew, whose unconditional promise (Genesis 12:1-3, 17:7-8) concerning the land, and national history (Leviticus 26, Amos 3:7) is not in competition with the new covenant, but a subscription to it.
As so often, the two extremes, rather like those of the Sadducees and Pharisees, will often unprofitably battle, each if not despising the other, at least finding it rather difficult to tolerate it: the so-called amillenial and the dispensational. Neither takes account of all the actual teaching in the Bible, and the "war" continues for the simple reason that neither party, group or "camp" is following all that is written, and neither is free from the attacks of the other, for that very good, quite essential and in the end, health-giving reason.
The wonder of the depths of the wisdom of God is not so limited (cf. Romans -35, Isaiah 65:0-13, 66:20, Romans ), and He HAS spoken. His word makes it superabundantly clear that there is indeed a Christian Church forecast, that there is indeed a totally universal New Covenant and that the Jews will also share this, humbled and not at all exalted (cf. Isaiah 19), but rather in shame, just as the individual Gentile converts have their own shame as they come in repentance to the same Lord through the same Gospel, in the same New Covenant. No culture will be exalted, no race, no flesh (Isaiah ). Many passages in the Old Testament do indeed speak of the Christian Church, and sometimes of this alone in its naked essence, sometimes of the Jewish company as it comes,
into the time of the blessing of the Lord, for that cauldron, still superheated in rebellion, the Middle East of Jew, Roman Catholic and Arab.
Now all these things we have shown often enough in other places, including The Shadow of a Mighty Rock (SMR), with Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13 and Repent or Perish Ch.3; but it seemed good to add a detailed account of the Jeremiah contribution, not so much for mere Christian Apologetics, for that work is done; but for exposition and the exhibition of the wonder of the singular unity and strength of the always mutually supportive Scripture; and because the more one knows of it, the better it is, for this word in the Bible, which is the Bible, it is the very word of God.
How brilliant that He should use so many men to write it, of such different capacities, and how sensitively humbling, therapeutically humbling indeed, to show us that irrespective of WHICH temperament and scholarly or practical capacities the individual writer might have in his gift from God, the word of God is quite able to be formulated by God Himself, and conveyed through the hand of the man to the ear of the people (I Corinthians 2:9-13, I Peter 1:10-12).
So vast was the power of God in so instructing the mind and the hand of the writer of His word, that at times, as we see from these references, they did not even understand just where or how the application might be made, but were made aware that these things were not for themselves, but
It is well that we heed them. So many pressure
groups, theological, political, ecclesiastical and military, national and
ideological are involved in the Middle East; and this is eminently fitting, it
would seem, for the place where this erring world despatched,
partly from Jew (priests and many people) and partly from Gentile (Pilate with
official Gentile sanctions making the murder possible, and so undoubtedly an
accomplice, however reluctant, and a defective one morally to boot), the ONLY
LORD JESUS CHRIST. There is no other Saviour and THIS
is the Lord whom the Father has sent, to whom every knee will bow.
In the Middle East there is scarcely even a curtsy, but there will be, after much more blood, while the dominant pride of man continues its arch-activities of dominion and power, of strategy and hope, of dream and murder, till the Lord whom there last time the world despatched, Himself returns (Zechariah 14, Acts 1:7-8,11, I Thessalonians 4, Philippians 3, I John 3:1-3, Revelation 1:7; 19*5) and makes peace amidst a judgment so monumental that Revelation 19 makes the scene, with all its joy, an almost macabre one.
Such is the way of non-repentance against which we have been warned so often and so eloquently in the word of God, and yet not with the wisdom of words, but with the poignant realities of the Father's compassion - as in Proverbs 1:20-33, 8:32-36, Ecclesiastes 11:9-12:7, Isaiah 48:18-20 (and this last reference has the still relevant, and indeed crucial appeal to quit false associations in the life of the people of God, cf. Revelation 18:4,20, I Cor. 5:9-10, Romans 16:17, Titus 3:10). We see it yet also in Amos 4, Revelation 9, Luke 13:1-3, John -36.
It is always, for the time
before the night comes when no man can work, ripe to repent, to seek the Lord.
The day of salvation is for now, always at hand, as Paul says, and whether it
be nation or strategy, or power or dominance, or theological obstinacy or
deviation, or the signals of sects, or of armies, it is NOW that the time is,
before it is too late, and before counsel without the Lord, be overturned. How
appealing and tender is the word of the Lord, taken in the instance of a Jewish
royal family, who alas did not appear to heed! and we
shall end with this (taken from Jeremiah -18):
"Say to the king and to the queen mother,
For your rule shall collapse,
the crown of your glory.' "
And look what precedes:
and give ear:
Do not be proud,
For the LORD has spoken.
Give glory to the LORD your God
Before He causes darkness,
And before your feet stumble
On the dark mountains.
And while you are looking for light,
He turns it into the shadow of death
And makes it dense darkness.
" But if you will not hear it,
My soul will weep in secret for your pride;
My eyes will weep bitterly
And run down with tears,
Because the LORD's flock has been taken captive." (Colour and italics added.)
detailed reading on this
It is of great interest also, in terms of method in Christian Apologetics, to observe that the more the contrary powers (Nasser, Russia in its earlier refusal to let the Jews go home, Hitler, Stalin) loom and gloom, threatening to Israel doom, as if to re-write history and make the earth their own by force or cunning or both, allocating territories at THEIR will: the more it is impressive when they fail. The more also it is impactive AS God does, notwithstanding any or all of them, PRECISELY what He says, and in the order He says, giving reasons not a little, and characterising the results.
Is it not like Pharaoh, of whom GOD said this:
In passing let us also note this, in so doing God is not forsaking the merciful disposition He shows in His love offered towards all, but ...
HE IS PATIENT but not lax; and when the truth is not received, may indeed send an active DELUSION which ends with the destiny of folly, which all ignoring of reality eventually brings (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10-11). He mends the broken heart which comes to Him, would not have any to perish, but with the restraints which love has, and the wisdom which is His, takes history and blends it all and secures the results which attest the truth, as He redeems some, and leaves others in their principial folly, to find their level, mavericks FROM mercy.
beauty of it is this: IF any one wants Him, His gospel is so clear and so
simple. IF anyone does not, what then? Why complain,
for you are free not to come! (cf. That Magnificent Rock, Creating Waves and Crosses and Losses,
- Chs.3, and 2). See also, The
See also concerning Israel, the Lord, His culminating program, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, with reference to Isaiah: SMR Appendix A and 8, with SMR Chs. 8 -9, Barbs, Arrows and Balms 13, Repent or Perish Ch.3, and Acme, Alpha and Omega, Ch.10, and Tender Times for Timely Truths, Ch.1.
EXCURSION INTO THE INTERSTICES OF THE
JEW AND GENTILE
(cf. Ch.3, and Appendix on Faith pp. 164ff. below)
(The Shadow of a Mighty Rock, Ch.9 - SMR), but so too is the predicted Messianic unity remorselessly and gloriously to be performed (Is. 65:13-16; 66 - pp. 136ff. infra; 53; 2:17; 49:6; 62:2; Jeremiah 3:16; 31:31ff.). Sooner no universe than that New Covenant fail (Jer. 31:31-37).
Each is prophetically assured. (Cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms, 17, The Everlasting Gospel.)
Moreover, the details of the restoration situation, for Israel, for what could be called the Stage 2 restoration: converted Israel (that is the spiritually restored remnant as in Zechariah 12:10ff., an event precisely predicted to occur following their physical return, cf. Ch. 3, esp. pp. 41-42 infra) are often dwelt on by the prophets, in the context of the
(For example, see Zephaniah 3:1-4,13-19, where the judgments are on that which ALREADY IS ZION, fallen, to be restored in such a completeness as to show that it is a spiritual body, for all its particularity; and compare Ezekiel 36:24-26 with Isaiah 42:14-19, where it is a "blind" servant and messenger who is restored through the Messiah - 41:28-42:3, 53:1.)
Yet there is even more unity with the Christian Church to be demonstrated. We do not "rightly divide" the word of God by omitting what we reject, but by placing each portion where it is contextually fitting (cf. SMR Appendix A).
Thus the Lord, in Isaiah 60 we read, is going to "glorify the house of My glory" (Isaiah 60:7). A millenial wonder begins to appear (60:12) which is not outwardly applicable as yet (cf. 60:18, 65:22-23); and indeed, so pure and perfected is the wonder, as in Zephaniah 3, that we see that from a spiritual body, equipped with false prophets and in rebellion (3:1-4), we progress further, to those freed from sin (Zephaniah 3:13), who "shall see disaster no more". While it is undoubtedly based in Israel as a topic (Isaiah 60:10,15), for the differential from other peoples is shown, for them as a fallen, disciplined CITY, with a notable name as the Lord's (cf. Isaiah 42:6-7, 18-19, SMR Ch.9): yet the subsequent merging into glory is patent, a glory which in Isaiah 61:1-3 is shown to be based on, and procured by the Messiah (cf. Faith Appendix, pp. 164 infra).
As the light grows on the scene, the very walls of the city become Salvation (Isaiah 60:18, cf. 60:19), that is their name, and the gates Praise. It is glowing with a glory which permits no more separation, and in which, as in Isaiah 66, Gentiles play an equal role, at the most sensitive levels. (See Isaiah 66:18-21, and cf. the case of Amos 9 - SMR pp. 1108ff., where the base in Christ is first shown - Amos 9:11-12, then, in 13-15, the re-grafted Jews as a milling people - see pp. 47ff. below).
Since the servants of the
Lord at this peak time are called by "another name" (65:13-15), we realise,
that just as Isaiah 66 shows hell in a geographical setting, so here the select
vales of heavenly wonder are in view, glinting with glory. It is not, to be
sure (Isaiah 65:20), yet in the absolute end when, as planned, "the former things
shall not ... come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17), but yet it appears in crystal
purity. Here there is a merging from the delight of the
transforming repentance of much of
THE ASSAULT ON
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, 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. This is the time of His recovery of that great
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
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.
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).
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".
It is not gore from war, but rather the blood for washing (cf. Revelation 1:5), 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!
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 of 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). 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.).
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)
As to His people they follow Him wherever He goes! (cf. I Thessalonians 4:13,17 which also asserts the same 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 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 ? It would rather to the uttermost be oppressed in any antichrist period, if that were in operation at the time, following the removal of the church's restraint, the Lord being with it! Yet this is not so. 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.
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, 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 pronoun "your" , right up to verse 20. HE is telling HIS people with HIS chosen representatives for this HIS Church, HIS 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", says the word of God.
Indeed, in verse 22, it is "the elect", 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) - that great tribulation JUST ANNOUNCED in verse 21!
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). This too is distinguished from any private performance, and is used as a basis for NOT BELIEVING anything such. 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.
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).
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. 3 infra,
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 Lord will honour His name in restoring meritless Israel to their land and later to the Lord, so joining them with other meritless converts, and
b) the 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.
*4 See A Spiritual Potpourri 18
*5 See Repent or Perish, Ch.1.