June 2, 2010
“Now will I sing to my well beloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My well beloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and also looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, 0 inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste; it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of lsrael, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant, and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.”
Having described the Lord’s use of the fig tree to symbolize Israel nationally, we now turn to the Lord’s use of the grapevine to symbolize Israel spiritually. In the above Scriptures the Lord described how He planted a vineyard in a fruitful hill, protected it, cultivated it, planted the choicest vine, made preparation for the harvest, but it brought forth only wild grapes. This is a picture of the Lord’s call to Abraham when He made these seven promises to him:
1) I will make of thee a great nation.
2) I will bless thee.
3) I will make thy name great.
4) Thou shalt be a blessing.
5) I will bless them that bless thee.
6) I will curse him that curseth thee.
7) In thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
The Lord’s choicest protection rested upon Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Egypt, under Jehovah’s watchful care, Israel grew to be a powerful nation. After the exodus, under the Lord’s personal supervision, direction, and leadership, He gave them laws to govern every human relationship. He gave them the tabernacle and temple services, with every detail described for their worship of Him. Unto them the Lord gave the tabernacle and temple for the place of worship. He adopted them as His own, and called Israel His firstborn son. The Lord blessed them with His personal presence in the Shekinah glory; all the promises of earthly glory and blessing He gave to them. He gave unto Israel the oracles of God, and He chose Israel after the flesh to be the people from whom Christ should come. “WHAT MORE COULD I HAVE DONE?” said the Lord. Then when He looked for grapes Israel brought forth wild grapes.
Because of Israel’s failure to be a spiritual blessing to the people of the world, God said He would withdraw His protective care from her. He said He would scatter her to the ends of the earth and let her lie waste. Through the centuries the fulfillment of the prophecies relative to Israel’s scattering and suffering have been fulfilled in the minutest detail. In Isaiah 5:8-30, God pronounced six woes upon Israel because of six very manifest sins: (1) Because of her selfish covetousness, desolation throughout the land would prevail, vv. 8-10; (2) because of her joyous revelry and consequent disregard for the service of the Lord, they would go into captivity in deepest humiliation, vv. 11-17; (3) because of her servitude to iniquity, vv. 18-19, and (4) because they called evil good and good evil, v. 20, and (5) because of self-complacent conceit, v. 21, and (6) because of drunken exhilaration and merriment, vv. 22, 23, the Lord’s anger would be kindled; His hand would be stretched out against them; the nations from afar would dispossess them and give them captivity and suffering unparalleled.
However, we have a prophecy in John 2:1-10 which promises that the wine at the end of the wedding feast will be better than that which was served at the beginning; or, that in the days of Israel’s restoration her joy and blessing will be greater than ever in days gone by. Now here is one lesson for us Gentiles: In Romans 11:21, we learn that the Gentiles will fare no better than Israel, and we will do well to mark the six sins designated above lest we ourselves should fall short in exactly the same way.
May 28, 2010
With the many things which are transpiring in the land of Israel and among its people, the question most recurring is this, “Is the fig tree budding?” There are some interpreters today who go to great lengths and pains trying to prove that our Lord did not use the fig tree to symbolize the nation of Israel. I want first of all to establish from the Word of God that the fig tree is a symbol of Israel, and in the second place to establish the fact that the fig tree is budding.
The import of all this is to be found in the statement of our Lord that when the fig tree begins to bud, His coming draws nigh. In Matthew 24:32, the Lord says, “Now learn a parable of the fig tree…” The ASV gives it as, “Now from the fig tree learn her parable …” None other than the Lord Himself said that the fig tree is a parable; that is, the fig tree is used by Him to symbolize or portray something besides the tree.
A tree in Scripture is used by the Lord to symbolize a national power (see Judges 9:8-15; Daniel 4:10-16, 19-27; Matthew 13:31, 32). In Judges the nations symbolized by the trees seek to elect a king to rule over them. In Daniel 4, Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonian Empire are symbolized by the great tree which is cut down for seven years. In Matthew 13, the mustard bush, a vegetable, becomes a tree, or a world power. We find two trees and a vine being used to symbolize Israel. In Isaiah 5:1-7, the Lord tells us that the grapevine symbolizes Israel. In Romans 11:17ff, the Lord tells us that the olive tree symbolizes Israel, and in Matthew 21:19; 24:21; Mark 11:12-14, 20, 21; Luke 13:6-9, the fig tree symbolizes Israel. In Judges 9:8, the trees of the forest sought the olive tree to reign over them. She refused. In the tenth verse they sought the fig tree to reign over them. She refused. In the twelfth verse they sought the grapevine to reign over them. She refused.
The olive tree symbolizes Israel in her covenant relationship to the Lord. The grapevine symbolizes the spiritual blessing Israel is to be to the whole world. The fig tree symbolizes Israel as God’s national witness to all the world. The vineyard was allowed to go to waste. Some of the branches of the olive tree have been cut off, but the fig tree itself was cut down.
Our Lord spoke three parables concerning the fig tree. Matthew 21:18-20 says: “Now in the morning as he returned into the city he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee hence forward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!” Herein the Lord turned aside to obtain some fruit to satisfy His hunger when He saw the fig tree in full leaf by the wayside. Finding no fruit upon the tree He said, “Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever.” The word translated “forever” has disturbed many Bible students by causing them to believe that the nation of Israel would never again bear fruit; but the Greek word is aion which simply means “the age.” When the Greek wishes to express “eternity” it uses the words which are translated “the age of the ages.” When this present age comes to a close and Israel is restored and recommissioned, she will bear fruit in the age which is to follow.
In Luke 13:6-9, we read:
“He spake also this parable: A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well; and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down.”
When the Lord turns aside to the fig tree in full leaf to obtain fruit and finds none, He says, “Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none.” That experience took place after three years of our Lord’s earthly ministry and sets forth the fact that during these three years He had sought some spiritual fruit from His own people in Israel and had found none. With the command to cut down the tree the vineyard keeper says to let it alone for another year, or give it another chance this year, and then if it does not bear fruit we will cut it down. The Lord agreed to so do, and we find, in reality, that He gave Israel another chance. In answer to the prayer of our Lord from Calvary’s Cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do,” God gave Israel another chance on the Day of Pentecost. God gave them another chance when Peter preached his second sermon; and He gave them yet another chance by the preaching of Stephen. When Israel steadfastly refused to obey the Lord she was set aside and God allowed her to be scattered to the four points of the compass.
In Acts 1:8, we find that He chose another group to be His witnesses. In Romans 11:25, we find that the setting aside of Israel as expressed by her blindness is only in part and that it is temporary and not permanent. Romans 11:17 states conclusively that just SOME of the branches were cut off and not all. The Gentiles being grafted in AMONG the olive branches bear fruit only as the sap from the Jewish roots flows through the Jewish trunk out through them.
Back to Matthew 24:32, 33, our Lord says that one of the signs of His coming is the budding of the fig tree, and while her branch is yet tender and is just beginning to put forth leaves, you may know that He is near, even at the door. The fig tree budded May 14, 1948, when Israel became a nation. Israel was the 59th nation admitted to the United Nations and has been recognized by some 67 or 68 nations up to the present time (1953). In keeping with the symbolism of the budding of the fig tree we feel that the coming of the Lord is to be soon after Israel becomes a nation.
But one says, “In Luke 21:29-31, it speaks of the parable of the fig tree and ALL the trees.”
Yes, that statement but enforces that which we have been explaining: When Israel becomes a nation and when all the other nations symbolized by trees become very conscious of their national existence, then you know that the Kingdom draweth nigh. This simply means that when Israel becomes a nation all the other nations will begin to draw back from the desire to be one world and will want to be separate and distinct nations in the world. And that is exactly what is happening in the world today. Yes, the fig tree has budded and the coming of the Lord doth draw nigh. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus.”
May 12, 2010
May 3, 2010
“As it is written, Behold I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Rom. 9:33).
The closing portion of the ninth chapter of Romans tells of Israel’s unbelief and their failure to attain unto righteousness because they sought it not by faith, and they subsequently stumbled at the stumbling stone. The stone of stumbling is also the rock of offense, and in this discussion of Israel’s blindness we want to set forth some of the teachings of the Word of God on Christ as the Rock as well as the Stumbling Stone.
Some say they do not believe in types, but such an attitude can only be manifest because of failure to understand the whole of the Word of God. In I Cor. 10:4, we have the Holy Spirit’s teaching that the Rock is a type of Christ. In the eleventh verse of the same chapter we read, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples.” The preferred translation is, “These things happened as types.” These statements should be sufficient for any openminded person to appreciate the fact that all of Israel and her experiences and appointments of worship, places of worship, and order of worship are types. And they are all written for our admonition.
Accepting the Word of God that the Rock is a type of Christ, we turn to Exodus 17:1-7. The children of Israel were camped in Rephidim where there was no water. They began to chide Moses crying, “Give us water that we may drink.” He rebuked them, and as their thirst increased so did their murmuring. Moses cried out to the Lord concerning his duty to the people, and the Lord told him to go on before them and take with him the elders of Israel and his rod. God promised that He would stand before Moses on the rock at Horeb. He was told to smite the rock and from it would flow water for the people to drink. The smitten rock is a beautiful type of the Lord Jesus Christ who, on Calvary’s cross, was smitten. From His riven side flowed blood and water (John 19:34). The rock being smitten provided water for the children of Israel. Christ being crucified provided life for all who would believe. We want to say in this connection that the crucifixion and death of Christ was an absolute necessity in God’s plan of redemption (John 3:14). In this verse we read, “Even so MUST the Son of man be lifted up,” showing the necessity of the crucifixion of Christ. Likewise we read in John 12:24 that “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone. “This is Christ’s answer to the Greeks that they could have no part in Him until after His death. The beginning of one’s spiritual life is by coming to the smitten Rock, that is, the crucified Christ.
As the children of Israel continued their journey toward the promised land, we read in Numbers 20:1-13 that they thirsted again and began to chide Moses because there was no water. On this occasion, the Lord told him to take the rod, gather the assembly together with Aaron his brother, speak to the rock, and it would give forth water so that the congregation and their beasts could have drink. Moses disobeyed the Lord, and in a spirit of rebellion smote the rock twice. It was because of this sin that he was forbidden to enter into the promised land. (Here is something for earnest reflection: Moses, because of disobedience, was prohibited from entering the land of Canaan, which is a type of the Millennial reign of Christ. Moses, however, was saved. Scripture teaches that one may be saved and still not reign with Christ in the Millennium.)
We used to wonder how the Lord could bar Moses from entering the promised land just because he struck the rock instead of speaking to it, but when we came to understand the typical teaching of striking the rock the second time we realized the enormity of Moses’ sin. When he struck the rock the second time he was teaching, in type, that Christ could be smitten, or crucified, the second time; and nowhere do we find such a teaching in the Word of God. In Hebrews 6:6, we read of Christians crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh. We say Christians because an unsaved person cannot crucify to himself the Son of God the second time. Christ died once to put away sin (Heb. 9:26).
These two experiences of the children of Israel with the rock, and the teaching of the Lord is evident. The rock was smitten once. Christ died once to put away sin. After that, sin in the life of a Christian is dealt with on the basis of speaking to the rock rather than smiting it. I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” We trust Christ only once for salvation. Our relationship is then established. We have become a child of God. Sin cannot affect this relationship once it is established; however, sin in the life of a Christian breaks the fellowship with God, and this fellowship is restored by speaking to the Rock.
Also in John 13:10, we learn that after one has been washed and then becomes defiled, he does not have to be washed all over again — only his feet, which have been soiled by travel. We also learn in the teaching of the Tabernacle that after the sacrifice has been offered on the brazen altar for sin, the priest does not return to the altar and offer another sacrifice to cleanse himself of defilement, but he goes on to the laver of brass where only his hands and feet are washed.
One should be able to see now that Moses’ great sin which kept him out of the promised land was the destruction of a type relative to speaking to the rock. In Matthew 16:18, the Lord said that He was going to build His church upon this Rock. In the seventeenth verse is the revelation that Peter’s confession was a God-given one rather than one of his own initiative. The Rock upon which God is building His church is the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 3:11); “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner” (Psa. 118:22); “Jesus said unto them, Did ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes?” (Matt. 21:42). Jesus Christ Himself is the chief Cornerstone, the Foundation, the Head of the church.
There is a reference in Daniel 2:34, 35, 44, 45 relative to the future manifestation of this Rock, or Stone, in its relation to the Gentiles. After the four world empires described in this chapter (Babylon, Media-Persia, Greece, and Rome) have run their course, a Stone cut out of the mountain without hands is seen smashing the great image on the feet and grinding it to powder. The powder then is blown away as chaff from the summer threshing floor, and the Stone grows until it fills the whole earth. This is God’s description of the smiting of the Gentiles by the Stone, the Lord Jesus Christ, described in our text as the Rock of Offense. With the smiting of the Gentiles, Christ will establish His Kingdom which will fill the whole earth (Isa. 11:9). Some erroneously believe that this refers to Christ’s first advent, but a casual glance at contemporary events will establish the fact that the Gentiles are still in power and that Christ’s kingdom does not fill the earth. The smiting of the Gentiles by the Rock of Offense will not take place until Christ’s second coming.
“…and whosoever believeth on Him shall not be ashamed.”
April 7, 2010
“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but in Isaac shall Thy seed be called” (Rom. 9:6, 7).
When one begins a discussion of Israel he soon hears it said that Gentiles who believe on the Lord are spiritual Israel. In this regard we want to make a statement to be noted well and kept always in mind: Every time the word Israel is used in the word of God, it is used to designate the lineal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Gentiles who have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ are called “of the seed of Abraham” but are never called Israelites. In the sixth verse quoted above we read, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel.”
Weymouth’s translation gives it in these words: “For not all who have sprung from Israel count as Israel.” (Here Israel means Jacob, whose name had been changed to Israel.) The truth is that not all of the lineal descendants of Israel are called the children of Israel; neither are all the descendants of Abraham called Israel. The children of promise came through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Neither the descendants of Ishmael, the sons of Abraham by Keturah, nor Esau are called Israel because they are not the children of promise. I am a Gentile believer, but that does not make me an Israelite, because I am not a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Much trouble exists today in the land of Palestine between the descendants of Isaac and the descendants of Ishmael. Not only do the Arabs, but also many Gentile Christians, refuse to accept the Word of God in Gen. 21:10, which tells us concerning Ishmael: “The son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.” Therefore, the son of the bondwoman is not to inherit any of the promises made to Abraham which were also confirmed to Isaac and Jacob. Paul quoted that passage of Scripture in Gal. 4:30, calling attention in this particular instance to the fact that the promises of God are to the son of Sarah and not to the son of Hagar.
In order that we may know that the distinction between Isaac and Ishmael is because of God’s election and not because they had different mothers, we have the experience of Jacob and Esau given in Rom. 9:8-13. These two sons had the same father and the same mother, and were twins. God chose Jacob and rejected Esau. This reveals to us, as stated so clearly in the Word of God (Rom. 9:11), that election is of God and not of the person elected. Permit just a word or two pertaining to the doctrine of election. Do not ever be guilty of saying that you do not believe in election, predestination, and foreordination, but say rather that you do not understand these things, though you do believe them. These doctrines are clearly taught in the Word of God.
Election is primarily for service. God chose Abraham, Isaac and Jacob out of multitudinous thousands, that through them, an elect group, He might bless all the rest of mankind. Today we have the Church who are the elect of God. God is calling out of the multitudes today a people for His name (Acts 15:14), that through this minority group of the elect, He might bless all the rest of mankind. The election of God does not mean that the others are predestined to be damned. All were born under the curse and none had any claim on God. If God chooses to elect certain ones, then the others have not a word to say except in the light of the fact that God has manifested His grace by saying, “Whosoever believeth on the Son, hath everlasting life.” Election, predestination, and foreordination are of God. Man’s part is to recognize the scope of God’s grace and know that he can qualify under the designation “whosoever,” and by believing, be saved. Election is a family expression, and after one comes into the family of God, he appreciates the fact that he was elected of God.
Charles H. Spurgeon’s illustration of election is very clear. He said that it was as if he approached a door over which was inscribed the words, “Whosoever will may come.” Realizing that whosoever included him, he entered the door. Upon entering he looked back at the door and saw inscribed these words, “Chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world.” God does the electing — man does the believing. A man goes to hell not because he was predestined to but because he refused to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now the election of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob manifests God’s Love in setting aside the posterity of these men and designating them as the children of Israel. Their election was not to damn the rest of the world but that through them all men might be blessed (Gen. 12:3). God’s election of Israel was for the following purposes:
1) To establish a people through whom Christ should come in the flesh (Rom. 9:5; Acts 2:30).
2) That through them His revelation (the Holy Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments) might be given to mankind (Rom. 3:1, 2; Psa. 147:19, 20).
3) That the testimony of the one true and living God might be preserved and propagated through them.
4) That they might be Jehovah’s witnesses to all the nations of the world.
Though Israel is set aside today as a nation and enjoys no national privileges, neither assumes any national responsibilities, we will learn in Romans XI that during this period of national rejection, opportunity has been extended to the Gentiles to be Jehovah’s witnesses. But because of the Gentile’s unbelief they shall surrender that privilege and it will be again given to the nation of Israel.
April 2, 2010
A heresy as old as the Church is the teaching that Israel is the Church. With the setting aside of the nation of Israel, this teaching says that all the promises to Israel have passed to the Church and that we cannot expect the fulfillment of any of the promises or the keeping of any of the covenants which God has made to and with the nation of Israel. All of this, in spite of the direct teaching of the Word of God to the contrary. For instance we read in Romans 11:29 that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance”; that is, every gift, every promise, and every covenant which God has made with Israel shall yet be fulfilled.
Our purpose, D. V., in the next few articles of this chapter is to give an exposition of Romans IX, X, and XI, which gives God’s teaching, plans, and purposes concerning Israel and her relationship to the Gentiles and the Church. We will do well at the very outset to keep in mind the three divisions of mankind as given by God in the New Testament. In I Cor. 10:32 we read of Jews, Gentiles, and the Church of God. We will have a fuller exposition of this a little later in our studies. We also want to get this truth over, that at no place and at no time does Israel ever mean anything but the lineal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Romans 9:1-5, we read:
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost. That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites: to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.”
As the Apostle Paul calls upon his conscience to bear him witness in the Holy Spirit that he is telling the truth in Christ, we call to mind that there are three realms in which man stands: (1) He could have said the truth “in Adam.” All mankind is in Adam, and the pride of the flesh and of life, if reared in an environment where truth is honored, could cause an unregenerate man to have regard for the truth. (2) Paul could have spoken the truth “in Moses.” Under the law Moses had commanded, “Thou shalt not bear false witness.” Paul’s regard for the law and the covenants of Sinai would have impelled him to tell the truth. (3) Paul speaks the truth “in Christ.” Regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and having genuine love for the Lord who is Truth, Paul as a man in Christ and as a member of His Body, the Church, was speaking the truth in the element in which he lived: that is, in Christ. It is not just pride of the flesh, it is not just obedience to the law of Moses, but it is in Christ that Paul speaks concerning his love for his kinsmen Israel.
When Paul speaks of his kinsmen he refers to the relationship of the flesh (Phil. 3:4-6). Paul remembers that according to the flesh Christ was of the seed of David and of Abrahamconsequently, a Jew Himself. This is a most refreshing statement to read in this day in which we find so few people who have a love for the Jews. Here is a reference to a very common experience: A lady was visiting in an evangelical church pastored by a nationally famous individual, and when she asked the pastor about work in that city among the Jews, he replied, “Thank God, we have practically run them all out of here.”
The tragedy of such misconception pertaining to Israel is to be seen when a Jew makes a confession of faith in Christ. He becomes literally “a man without a country.” His own people, the Jews, care nothing for him; and Gentile Christians will not welcome him into their fellowship except in a few isolated instances where the Word of God has been taught and the people have been instructed pertaining to Israel’s place in God’s plans and purposes.
Personally, I cannot help but love the Jews for several reasons: Our Bible came through them; the Saviour came from Israel; Jesus loved them; Paul loved them; and we are commanded to love them.
Who are Israelites? In Rom. 9:4, 5, we have the Holy Spirit’s definition and the characteristics of the people called Israel. If you approach these two verses with an open mind and with the desire to know the will and Word of God, you will never again confuse the words Israel, Gentile, and Church.
1. The first thing we notice about the children of Israel is that they are an adopted nation. God adopted them as a nation, and He has never at anytime nor will He ever at anytime adopt a Gentile nation. We read in Exodus 4:22 that Israel is His son, even His firstborn. You will notice here that He does not say first begotten. Jesus is the first begotten, but Israel is the firstborn; so you see, God has these two Sons, Jesus and Israel. Now there is a sense in which there is the adoption of individuals into the family of God (Rom. 8:23), but this adoption is not consummated until the return of the Lord Jesus Christ and the resurrection and redemption of our physical bodies. The church is not adopted but rather is begotten and is a new creation in Christ Jesus. Israel today, the adopted son of God, is temporarily set aside because of unbelief, but the promise of God is that this adopted son is to be put back in his rightful place as head over all the peoples of the world.
2. Who are Israelites? They are the only nation to whom God revealed His glory. The glory of the Lord was manifested to Israel in the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. God’s revelation of Himself to the nation of Israel in the glory of consuming fire has never been manifest to a Gentile nation, neither to the Church of the living God — only to Israel.
3. Who are Israelites? They are the only nation in the world with whom God ever made a covenant. God has covenanted with individuals of the human race, but never with a Gentile nation. The first covenant was made with Abraham, confirmed to Isaac and again to Jacob pertaining to the land. God covenanted with Israel to give them the land from the River of Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea on the west to the Euphrates River on the east. This land was to be an eternal portion for the nation of Israel. As of today, Israel has possessed only a fragmentary portion of that area, and the covenant of God with Israel is that she shall yet possess it in its entirety. No such covenant has been made with any Gentile nation.
Another covenant God made with the nation of Israel, which has no counterpart with Gentiles or the Church, is that of the Seed of David. God said He would raise up the Lord Jesus Christ in the flesh to sit upon the literal Throne of David and that He would rule over the house of Israel as a nation forever (Luke 1:32, 33; II Sam. 7:11- 17). No such dealings does God have with the Church or the Gentiles.
4. Who are Israelites? To them God gave the Law. Here is a truth unrealized and unappreciated by the majority of Christians. God did not give the Law to the Church, nor to the Gentiles, but only to the nation of Israel. If any one truth is set forth in the New Testament it is the blessed fact that we of the Church are not under the Law but under grace. The only Gentile upon whom the Law had any bearing was someone who became a proselyte of the Gate; that is, he took upon himself the vows and ordinances of the Jews, associated and affiliated himself with them and thus by choice was recognized as a Jew, though a Gentile.
5. Who are Israelites? They are the nation to whom was given the service of God. The service of God pertained to the tabernacle, the temple, the priesthood, the altars, the sacrifices, various garments of different materials and hues, different articles of furniture with all the ritual, as well as special seasons and days which were involved. God has never given such to a Gentile nation, nor to the Church. And all of these Protestant and Catholic churches with their rituals, robes, candles, altars, holy days and seasons, and weeks of prayer, are nothing but a conglomerated union of paganism and Judaism with an affected Christian atmosphere. Study the Acts of the Apostles to see the simplicity of Christian worship and possibly you will appreciate the fact that the service of God as such was given only to the nation of Israel.
6. Who are Israelites? To them God made certain promises, and there is not a promise in the Word of God to another nation. These promises are many and they relate to individuals of Israel as well as to the whole nation. Some of them were spiritual and some temporal. Many were pertaining to the land, the city, the temple, and they also spoke of the superiority of the nation of Israel to the other nations. There are also spiritual promises made to the nation of Israel which relate principally to the happy days to come during the millennium.
7. Who are Israelites? It is from this nation that the “fathers” came. We read of father Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but there is no father from among the Gentiles. In fact, when we come to the days of our Lord we have His specific command to call no man father (Matt. 23:9). And last of all, the Israelites are the people from whom as concerning the flesh, Christ came. If the Church is Israel, then we would read that Christ came from the Church; whereas, the Scripture tells us that Christ Himself established the Church.
A careful study of the above facts in the light of the Scripture should be sufficient to convince any open-minded individual that the children of Israel are separate and distinct from the Gentiles and the Church, and are not to be confused with either.
March 26, 2010
Is man about to destroy himself? Is the end of the world in sight? What does the future hold? What is going to happen next? These are typical of many questions asked the writer today.
There is “order” in the plan and purposes of God, and so far as the Scripture is concerned, the next great prophetic event will be the rapture of the saints. A close study of Hebrews 11 reveals the order in which things are to take place in regard to Christian experience and the consummation of the age. Since all the characters mentioned in this chapter are not enumerated in their chronological order, it is evident that the order speaks of their typical fulfillment.
Abel, with the blood sacrifice, typifies the Christian coming under the blood of Christ through faith. This sets forth the beginning of this age as the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The next event listed in Hebrews 11 is the translation of Enoch, which typifies the truth that after the shedding of the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, the next great prophetic event is the translation of the saints. After Enoch comes Noah, and the judgment of God upon the world. This, then, sets forth a type about which there can be no uncertainty: the great tribulation follows the rapture. This establishes as a certain fact, in the light of many concurring Scriptures, that the next great prophetic event is the rapture.
Two or three Scriptures describe this event. In I Cor. 15:20-23, we see Christ as the Firstfruit. Then, whenever man is raised, it is in his own company. They that are Christ’s shall be raised at His coming. These are divided into two distinct groups according to I Thess. 4:16,17. The dead in Christ rise first, then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. There is no room here for a split rapture or a division of the saints because the above verse of Scripture says that ALL the dead in Christ and ALL the living Christians are caught up.
There are two major events in the life of a Christian as related to this earth. The first one is that moment when he is born from above, and the second is when he is caught up to meet the Lord in the air.
In looking at the major events relative to the end time, first there is the rapture, or the raising of the dead in Christ and the translation of the living Christians. Immediately after the rapture there are events transpiring on the earth, and at the same time, events are taking place in heaven.
The first event to take place in the heavens with the raptured saints is the judgment seat of Christ. This is the time and place when Christians are called to a personal accounting of the life they have lived after they are saved. There will be rewards, honors, positions of prestige, and glory for the faithful. There will be loss, shame, chastisement and grief for the unfaithful. There is no escaping the issues of this judgment. It will be one of absolute justice, and Christians will get just exactly what they deserve on the basis of their works — nothing more, nothing less. Do not be deceived by the false teaching that Christians will not reap the evil deeds done after they are saved.
The judgment seat of Christ is followed by the marriage of the Lamb. The issues of the judgment seat determine who will constitute the bride. Rev. 19:7, 8 gives the truth that the bride is composed only of those Christians who have a wedding garment; and this garment is made up of the righteous acts of the saints. If the judgment seat of Christ reveals that a Christian has no good works, he will suffer loss and therefore have no wedding garment, neither will he be a part of the bride of Christ, even though he has eternal life by the grace of God. One would do well to study an Oriental wedding and see that there are many other parties at a wedding ceremony other then the bridegroom and the bride. The marriage of the Lamb has only to do with New Testament saints, and these will be further divided into many groups other than just the bride.
The marriage of the Lamb is followed by the wedding feast, which does not include all of the wedding party. The Scripture speaks of the blessedness of those who are invited to the feast (Rev. 19:9).
Now, in turning our attention earthward, the first thing to take place on the earth after the rapture of the saints is the sealing of the 144,000 Jews who will preach the gospel of the kingdom to the Gentiles during the tribulation (Rev. 7).
As soon as the sealing of the 144,000 is completed, the antichrist is made manifest. His appearance marks the beginning of the tribulation, a period of seven years, the latter part of which is known as the great tribulation. This period is described in the Revelation from chapter 6 through chapter 18. During this time great multitudes of Gentiles will be saved, many of whom will be martyred. The great majority of the nation of Israel will be destroyed when the antichrist makes war against the Lord’s chosen people. This entire period of seven years is called the time of Jacob’s trouble and is spoken of as a time of suffering, the like of which the world has never seen nor will ever experience again. The only Jews who will be spared during this period is that remnant which will be saved when they look on the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of His descent to the earth. This is the event we shall discuss next.
Rev. 19:11 opens up the events of the end time in chronological order as Jesus comes with His holy angels to reap vengeance on the earth dwellers and to establish His reign of one thousand years. The Scripture teaches that the first thing to take place when Christ returns to the earth is the salvation of all the living Jews (Zech. 13:6-9; Rev. 1:7; Rom. 11:25-27). Very likely at this same time there will be a resurrection of the dead Jews in their bodies of flesh, blood and bones who, with the above mentioned Jews, go into the Millennium as God’s earthly people (Dan. 12:1; Ezek. 37:11-14).
The Lord Jesus Christ will then gather all the Gentiles before Him and will divide them into two groups known as the sheep and the goats. The sheep will be the nations who believed the gospel of the kingdom and were saved. The goats will be the ones who did not believe the gospel of the kingdom. The fact of their salvation will be manifested by their good works, especially by their treatment of the brethren of our Lord (the Jews). The unsaved ones (goats) will be the vast multitude to be destroyed in the Battle of Armageddon. The saved ones, known as the sheep, will constitute the Gentile nations who go into the Millennium also as an earthly people.
We see how that the location of the peoples for the thousand-year reign of Christ is as follows: The New Testament saints will be in the new Jerusalem located in the heavens. They are the heavenly people of the Lord. This group will be made up both of Jews and Gentiles saved between Pentecost and the rapture. The people of the earth will be the whole house of Israel. They will be made up of the Old Testament saints who died and are raised from their graves to possess the land, and the living Jews who are saved at the return of Christ to the earth and are restored to the land of Palestine. The Gentile nations saved during the tribulation, together with the above, make up the people who will live here on the earth.
The binding of Satan may well be the next event to transpire when he shall be cast into the abyss for the duration of the Millennial reign.
Christ will then set up His kingdom with Himself as the King of kings (Rev. 19:16). David will be raised to reign over the house of Israel (Ezek. 37:24, 25; Jer. 30: 9; Hos. 3:5). The twelve apostles will be given positions of authority over the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28); and the Christians who qualify, will reign over various cities (Luke 19:16-19).
At the end of the Millennium, Satan will be loosed for a season, and with the vast number born during the Millennium who will not confess Christ as Saviour will make war against Him and the city of Jerusalem (Rev. 20:7-9). Satan will then be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone where, with the beast and the false prophet who are cast in at the beginning of the Millennium, he will be tormented forever and ever. The present heavens and earth will then pass away — be completely annihilated.
Next is the appearance of the Great White Throne before which will be gathered the unbelievers of all ages as well as the fallen angels. Their portion in the lake of fire will be made known on the basis of their evil deeds; and all whose names are not in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire to be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Then shall appear the new heavens and the new earth. The new Jerusalem, the home of Christ and His saints, will come down to earth as the capital of the new earth. The saved among the Jews and the Gentiles who came though the Millennium will come into the new earth as Jews and Gentiles; so it seems that the new earth will be peopled by the New Testament saints as one group, the redeemed nation of Israel as another group, and the redeemed Gentile nations as another.
March 25, 2010
1. There is to be a great conflict between labor and capital. This is foreshadowed in James 5:1-8:
“Come now, you rich [people]; weep aloud and lament over the miseries — the woes — that are surely coming upon you. Your abundant wealth has rotted and is ruined and your [many] garments have become moth-eaten. Your gold and silver are completely rusted through, and their rust will be testimony against you and it will devour your flesh as if it were fire. You have heaped together treasure for the last days. [But] look! [Here are] the wages that you have withheld by fraud from the laborers who have reaped your fields, crying out (for vengeance), and the cries of the harvesters have come to the ears of the Lord of hosts. [Here] on earth you have abandoned yourselves to soft (prodigal) living and to [the pleasure of] self-indulgence and self-gratification. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. You have condemned, you have murdered the (innocent) righteous [man, while] he offers no resistance to you. So be patient, brethren, (as you wait) till the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits expectantly for the precious harvest from the land. [See how] he keeps up his patient [vigil] over it until it receives the early and late rains. So you also must be patient. Establish your hearts — strengthen and confirm them in the final certainty — for the coming of the Lord is very near” (Amplified N.T.).
2. There will be a great moral decay of society. We see this in II Tim. 3:1-5:
“But understand this, that in the last days there will set in perilous times of great stress and trouble-hard to deal with and hard to bear. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered, lovers of money and aroused by an inordinate (greedy) desire for wealth, proud and arrogant and contemptuous boasters. They will be abusive (blasphemous, scoffers), disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy and profane. [They will be] without natural (human) affection (callous and inhuman), relentless — admitting of no truce or appeasement. [They will be] slanderers — false accusers, trouble makers; intemperate and loose in morals and conduct, uncontrolled and fierce, haters of good. [They will be] treacherous (betrayers), rash (and) inflated with conceit. [They will be] lovers of sensual pleasures and vain amusements more than and rather than lovers of God. For [although] they hold a form of piety (true religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it — their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession. Avoid [all] such people — turn away from them” (Amplified N.T.).
3. There will be a passing of personal liberties and freedoms. Already can be seen the foregleam of that which is prophesied in Rev. 13:15-17:
“And he was permitted [also] to impart the breath of life into the beast’s image so that the statue of the beast would actually talk, and to cause to be put to death those who would not bow down and worship the image of the beast [Dan. 3:5]. Also he compels all [alike], both small and great, both the rich and the poor, both free and slave to be marked with an inscription (stamped) on their right hands or on their foreheads. So that no one will have power to buy or sell unless he bears the stamp (mark, inscription), [that is], the name of the beast or the number of his name” (Amplified N.T.).
Today there is a centralized trend in government, religious totalitarianism, and the attempt of the National Council of Churches to curtail all freedoms of non-conformist churches and Christians.
March 24, 2010
After the appearance of false Christs, the Lord says in verse 6: “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.” The most striking thing in this verse is that whereas there will be wars and rumors of wars until the time of the Lord’s return, the end is not set forth in an era of peace or wars. The Scripture speaks of three great conflicts that will take place before the end of all things; so we are not to be particularly upset or excited when we hear of wars and rumors of wars. But the Lord says there is coming a day when “nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places” (v. 7). Here He is saying that someday there is coming a world-wide war. Prior to this, conflicts will have existed on a lesser scale. For instance, back when the Philistines and the children of Israel were engaged in conflicts, often a champion was chosen from each side such as David and Goliath, and the winner won the battle for his entire side. On other occasions a few men would be chosen to engage in the conflict. Then there were those days when just fighting men of different groups fought; but it was not until 1914-’18 that the world was involved in a conflict in which not only the men of war engaged, but also the civilians, both men and women. The importance of determining whether or not the conflict of 1914-’18 was such is to be found in verse 8. The Lord states conclusively that a world-wide conflict involving men, women and children, followed by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places would be THE sign of His coming.
Notice verse 8 carefully. He says THESE things (the above designated) constitute the beginning of sorrows, or travail, as it is in the Greek text. Weymouth translates that verse: “All these are but like the earliest pains of childbirth.” What Jesus literally said was that a worldwide conflict followed by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes was the first birth pang announcing the birth of a new era, and this would be the harbinger of His return and attendant events. Because He did not specify whether it would be the first, second, third, fourth or fifth time this happened seems to mean it was to be the first time a world-wide conflict took place. Our own conviction is that THE sign of the Lord’s approaching advent was World War I, which was followed by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in unparalleled number and intensity. We are not left in doubt at all concerning this because in verse 9, the Lord says: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.”
Now in order to understand this verse, one must also understand the expression “all nations.” The word translated nations is also translated heathen in some instances, and Gentiles in other instances. It is an expression used by the Holy Spirit to distinguish this group of people from the nation of Israel. What the Lord is saying in verse 9 is that they (the Gentiles) will deliver the Jews up to be afflicted and shall kill them, and they (the Jews) shall be hated by all the Gentiles for His name’s sake. The expression “for His name’s sake” is the reason for anti-Semitism. Israel is hated, reviled, bemeaned, persecuted, and killed simply and solely because God chose her for His own people as a nation. He has not so dealt with any other nation (See Rom. 9:4, 5).
Now let us tie our Scriptures together thus far. Jesus said that the sign of His coming would be a world-wide war, followed by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places, which would soon be followed by a worldwide persecution of the Jews in which they would be hated by all of the Gentiles and in which many would be killed. At the beginning of World War II there was a wave of anti-Semitism which swept over the world including even our own United States.
In those days we heard one of our greatest automobile manufacturers and another who was the idol of America because of his aviation feat speak over the radio from time to time, castigating the Jews and charging them with everything conceivable to a mind that was activated by Satan himself. Such a wave of Jewish hatred was built up in the hearts of the American people that had it not been for the Pearl Harbor debacle there is no doubt but that experiences would have been observed in the United States similar to the ones which took place in Germany under Hitler as he sought the decimation of the Jewish race. It was during this time that two boat loads of Jewish refugees came to our shores seeking a haven. And they were not only refused entrance here, but also in Mexico, South America, and Africa; and they had to return to Germany to be destroyed along with more than six million others who died in that wave of Jewish hatred. Just conceive for one moment if you can, of over one-third of the Jewish population being wiped off the face of the earth, and for no other reason thanthat the Lord God Almighty chose them for His own. That is what He means when He says, “For my name’s sake.”
In verses 32 and 33, we have the parable of the fig tree. A study of the Scripture reveals that the Lord uses several different trees to symbolize certain aspects of Israel’s witness. The olive tree symbolizes Israel and her covenant relationship to the Lord (Rom. 11); the grapevine symbolizes the spiritual blessings which are to flow from Israel (Isa. 5); the fig tree symbolizes Israel as a nation (Mark 13:28, 29; Luke 21:29-31). The Lord came and sought fruit from the nation of Israel for three years and found none, and He ordered the fig tree — the nation — cut down. The husbandman pled for another chance, so Israel’s life was extended; but when Israel persisted in bearing no fruit, the nation was set aside and the Gentiles were given the opportunity of being Jehovah’s witness (Rom. 11:15-25). We learn from this parable and many others that Israel is to be restored (See also Isa. 11; Ezek. 39: 25-29).
Now back to Matthew 24:32. When the Lord says to learn a parable of the fig tree, He is setting forth the truth that the fig tree symbolizes something else, and from other Scriptures we note that it symbolizes the nation of Israel. Trees are used to symbolize nations (See Judges 9:8; Dan. 4). So in this parable He tells us that when the branch is yet tender and has just put forth its leaves, you know that summer is nigh; that is, when Israel becomes a nation again, and very soon thereafter, you know that something is about to happen. It is in verse 32 that we learn what is about to happen. Jesus says, “When ye shall see all these things, know that He (literal translation) is near, even at the doors.” Keep in mind that on May 14, 1948, the fig tree put forth her branch. Israel became a nation. Here then is a summation of the answer the Lord gave to the question, “What shall be the sign of thy coming?”
1) False Christs shall appear, deceiving many. This has been true for years.
2) There shall be wars and rumors of wars. These are ever present.
3) There will be a world-wide war followed by famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places. This took place in 1914-18.
4) This was to be followed by a world-wide persecution of the Jews, with many of them being killed. This took place in 1939-45, in which over six million were killed.
5) This was to be followed by the fig tree budding again. This took place when Israel became a nation on May 14, 1948.
Jesus said when you see all these things taking place, know that He is near, even at the doors. He also said that THIS GENERATION (the generation which sees the beginning of these things) shall not pass away until all these things have been fulfilled. A generation, according to the Scripture, is threescore and ten years, and if by reason of strength, fourscore. We are not setting any dates, neither attempting to. We are just trying to interpret the Word of God.
March 23, 2010
(Matthew 23:37 – 24:1-14) “What shall be the sign of thy coming?” is one of the questions asked by the disciples in the Olivet discourse. This question is answered by the Lord, and His answer should be a beacon light for all who are looking for His return.
During the last week of our Lord’s earthly ministry He went daily into the city of Jerusalem, but returned to the Olive Garden where He spent the night. These nights were given almost wholly to prayer. On one occasion the Lord uttered His lament over Jerusalem as recorded in Matthew 23:37:
“0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together even as a hen gathered her chickens under her wings, and ye would not.” He then pronounced Israel’s fate in the words of verse 38: “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.”
One must fix in his mind that the Lord prophesied desolation upon the city, the temple and the people. The word house in regard to Israel is used to refer to the land, the city, and the people. This prophesied desolation made an impact upon the disciples, and as they left the temple on that evening they pointed out the massive building to the Lord as if to refute His prophecy of desolation. This temple was the building which Herod had taken forty-six years to build. It was reputed to have many stones in it 12x20x40 feet — stones quarried out of rock of that dimension making it an architectural and engineering phenomenon. The beauty of it was such that a common saying was, “If you have not seen Herod’s temple, you do not know beauty.” It was inconceivable to the disciples that such a building should be made desolate. Our Lord’s reply was, “There shall not be left here one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down.” The magnitude of the desolation was overpowering; and when they reached the Mount of Olives and were alone, the disciples asked Jesus these three questions: “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” This is so important that we repeat:
1) They wanted to know when the temple would be left desolate.
2) They wanted to know what would be the sign of His coming.
3) They wanted to know what would be the sign that the age was coming to an end. (The Greek text sets forth the fact that it is the age and not the world, as such, of which He speaks.)
These three questions concerned the disciples in the day of our Lord. These three questions concerned the Lord when He was here on the earth. These three questions should concern all students of the Word of God today. The Lord spoke more about His second advent than His first; the prophets spoke more of His second advent than of His first; and we should have more than a passing interest in His second advent. The plea that the study of the second coming of Christ gives people the wrong perspective is ill-founded, for there is no Scriptural truth that is not invariably placed in the wrong perspective by some of its adherents. The first advent had no significance apart from the second. Our redemption is incomplete until Christ returns. Christ’s ministry is incomplete until He returns, and all Scriptural truth is rendered outof focus without a clear-cut conception of Christ’s second advent. It is important to know about the coming of the Lord to this earth. Now let us take up the questions in their order:
“Tell us, when shall these things be?” (That is, when is our house going to be left desolate?) In Luke 21:20, 21, we have these verses: “And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.”
The sign of the approaching desolation was that Jerusalem would be encompassed with armies; and since there is no specific number as to which siege was meant, it follows of necessity that it must be the first one after the uttering of these words. The next time an army moved down against Jerusalem and surrounded it, then the disciples and the inhabitants were to know that the desolation of the city was in the offing. They were to know also that its desolation was as certain as the Word of God. The exhortation was given by the Lord that when the city was encompassed with armies then those in the city were to flee to the mountains, and those outside the city were not to enter therein. This would be a rather difficult thing to do with the city in a state of siege. But wait and see how the Lord fulfilled His Word. There is a space of approximately 40 years between the time that the Lord uttered these words and the time of the desolation — 40 years during which the Jews had opportunity to repent as a nation and see the fulfillment of Acts 3:19. Three decades passed and there was no evidence of armies or a siege against Jerusalem; but in October of 66 A.D. Cestius Gallus and his Roman legions came against the city and threw up a siege that virtually paralyzed it. Our Lord had said that this would be the sign of the approaching desolation of the house of Israel.
One cannot help but wonder how many people recognized it as the sign. Subsequent events prove that the first generation of Christians believed far more in the signs of the times than our present generation of believers. Of course those in the city could not flee to the mountains as the Lord had urged; neither could those outside enter in. But wait! About a month later, in November of the same year, for no visible or understandable reason, Gallus and his legions withdrew and left that part of the country. The disciples and believers within the city then fled to the mountains. Josephus, in his Antiquity of the Jews, tells us that so far as the record goes, there was not a single Christian who perished in the fall of Jerusalem some four years later. They believed the word of the Lord and accepted that first siege as the sign; and as opportunity presented itself, they fled.
It is doubtful that many inhabitants of the city, hearing again of the Lord’s prophecy, attached any importance to it but reckoned it as a mere coincidence. But in the year 70 A.D., the Emperor Titus threw up a siege against the city and ultimately reduced it to shambles, slaying two or three million Jews who were in the city at the time. So great was the blood shed that Josephus speaks of whole houses on fire in the southern part of the city being extinguished by the wall of human blood that flowed down into that area. Tradition has it that between the stones of the building was gold leaf which had been placed there to enhance the beauty of the temple. Its dome also was of solid gold, and the Roman’s need for gold caused them to remove each stone separately and scrape the gold from it, leaving no stone upon another when they had finished. The prophecies of the Lord were fulfilled in minutest detail concerning the desolation of the house of Israel. If the Lord went to such pains to prophesy and fulfill the destruction of Jerusalem, who can say that the prophecies pertaining to His second coming are not as valid and worthy of study? The second question of Matthew 24:3 was, “…and what shall be the sign of thy coming?” This question is answered in the immediate context when Jesus says, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”
There has been much deception pertaining to the coming of the Lord — all of which originated with Satan. He has sought to bring the doctrine of the coming of the Lord into disrepute by mishandling and perversions on the part of sincere but misled folks. Some of them deceive by saying that His coming is already past; others by saying that the destruction of Jerusalem was His second coming; others say that the conversion of an individual is the second coming; others, that the advent of the Holy Spirit was the second coming; others say that the death of a Christian is the second coming; others, that His coming is spiritual and not literal; and still others deceive by saying that He is not coming back at all. One can readily see the need of the exhortation of our Lord when He said, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” The Lord also warns against deception in Matt. 24:5 when He says, “Many shall come in My name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” False Christs were in evidence during the Lord’s time on earth and also during the time of the apostles. John the beloved says in I John 2:18, “Even now are there many antichrists. “From the time of Christ until now many have claimed to be the Christ. A couple whom we sent to India as missionaries reported that there were some 14 or 15 natives of India who said they were Christ, claiming to have died and risen again from the dead. Our missionary in Miami Beach, attended a meeting where she was introduced to a man from the Middle East who claimed to be the resurrected Christ. She asked to see his hands, and when they revealed no nail prints, she asked him, “Where are the wounds?” Of course he was a false Christ, as are all the others. Our Lord Jesus Christ is in heaven and has been there since His ascension. He will not return to the earth until after He has appeared in the air and called His own to meet Him there (I Thess. 4:13-18).
All these false Christs make their appearances with the preaching of a false gospel. In the preaching of a false gospel we do not mean that all their preaching is false; but error is mixed with the truth in such a subtle way that few can distinguish between truth and error. The one true test is the Word of God. We have the simple statement in Isaiah 8:20 that if they speak not according to the law and to the testimony “it is because there is no light in them.”
The best antidote in this time of deception is a thorough knowledge of the Word of God.