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Friday, December 20, 2019

A Fresh Look at What's Next in God's Plan

We've discussed how some doctrines are in ink and some are in pencil. Well. my eschatology (doctrine of the end times) is one of those topics in pencil. Of course, there are some items withing my beliefs which are in ink, but most of it is in pencil.

I believe Christ will manifest himself. I believe there will be a 1000 year earthly kingdom. I believe the twelve apostles to the circumcision will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. These are clearly stated prophecies in scripture. But what is less clear to me is the exact sequence and exactly how individual believers fit into these events.

I do not hold to the traditional rapture doctrine (pre or post tribulation). I do believe the Lord will appear in the clouds, but it will be part of his return to Israel. As we noted at the start, the sequence is where I see ambiguities.

With this in mind, I'd like to present one theory proposed by some; most notably by Bible teachers Otis Sellers and Tom Ballinger.  As with all the links I post, I am quick to add that I do not necessarily hold to everything at these sites. But I will say both these men have very scripturally profitable ministries.


The Sudden Imposition of the Rule of God (The Manifest Kingdom of God)





The above chart is presented by Otis Sellers' ministry. We are concerning ourselves with section D.

One of the reasons this theory intrigues me is that I have known what do do with Paul's statement in 2 Tim 3 concerning the last days. In that horrific list of the full manifestation of carnal nature of man, we have a verse which suggests a sudden end.

Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was.
-2 Tim 3:8-9
The word translated "manifest" here is only found in this passage. It is the Greek word ékdēlos which means to make evident. The Revised Version reads, "their folly will be plain." The Modern English Version renders it, "their folly will be revealed to everyone." What could facilitate this sudden change? This will not be the time of the Tribulation wherein men will be deceived by the Man of Sin. Could it be God imposing the manifestation of His rule laid out in the prophets?

Let's compare this idea with Isaiah 40:5:

“And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.”

The "all" in 2 Timothy 3:9 and in Isaiah 40:5 is all mankind. It is a total manifestation of the power of God. These cannot be confused with the traditional doctrine of the Rapture as Isaiah 40 and its description of conditions on earth do not allow it. Isaiah 40 is what John the Baptist declared when he was calling on Israel to prepare a way for the Lord. It is a glorious chapter of a wonderful day to come (the Day of Christ). We will look at this later in this study.

Below is how Sellers' ministry, Seed & Bread, comments on section D (I copy and paste these notes as they contain the relevant scriptures for your consideration):

  • God literally invades the earth with His Spirit, taking over the governments of all nations to remake them. This is what the Bible speaks of as the epiphaneia (blazing forth) of the glory of Jesus Christ. (Titus 2:13, Joel 2:28). (Isa. 40:5) “And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” God introduces His esteem for Jesus Christ into the minds of all living. (Ps. 22:27).
  • First, for the living generation when God intervenes, and for each individual upon their resurrection is the judgment (setting in order) by Jesus Christ. (2 Tim. 4:1) “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom;” This assay will quickly determine who among the living is worthy to continue to live and who among the dead shall be raised, and in what order to have a portion in the life of the Kingdom of God. (John 5:25) “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live.” (Col. 3:4). The gifts of Christ’s great victory – perfect health, a changed body and a clear mind – are immediate for every individual, but those judged unworthy will lose all. (Ps. 37:10).
  • Christ, ruling from the heavens skillfully brings about a perfect solution to every problem plaguing mankind. (Ps. 46:9, 10) “He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth; He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two; He burns the chariots with fire. “Cease (striving) and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” (Matt. 12:18-21, Isa. 9:6). The people of all nations put their trust in Him and enjoy a long period of peace, righteousness and justice. (Isa. 42:1-4, Isa. 26:9).
  • It is at this point in time that God calls the people of Israel, living and dead, out of all nations where they have been scattered, makes Himself known to them, and restores them to their land. (Jer. 31:10, 11) “Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.” (Ezk. 20:33-38, Ezk. 11:17-21, Ezk. 37).
  • The Temple is rebuilt, and accepted by God (2 Thes. 2:4). The order of daily sacrifice is renewed. (Ezk. 20:40, Ezk. 46:13).
  • Israel is the mediatoral nation, Jerusalem is the mediatoral city for all the nations of the World. (Isa. 56:7) “These I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.” (Isa. 2:1-4, Ps. 68:29).
  • All men of all nations will have the help of God’s Spirit to learn righteousness as residents of God’s government. (Isa. 30:21) “Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left.”


The Four Great Days of Scripture


Parallel to this expression of the theory is the discussion of the "Four Days of Scripture." We must account for all of these in our studies and our timelines.

  • The Day of Man
  • The Day of Christ
  • The Day of the Lord
  • The Day of God

As an aside, Hebrew does not have a possessive. That is, you would not say "Michael's car" in ancient Hebrew. You would say, "the car of Michael." Greek, however, does have a possessive (as in English). So, "The Lord's Day" in the Revelation is the same as "The Day of the Lord" in the prophets. It is certainly not Sunday. That is such a ridiculous application, it should be easily dispensed.

All of these days have different characteristics. One way to understand them is to see how they are presented in the books we call the New Testament. 


Man's Day.


This one is often forgotten today because the King James Version imposes a meaning on the Greek in 1 Cor 4:3 which obscures the Greek. The verse should read:

to me it is for a very little thing that by you I may be judged, or by man's day, but not even myself do I judge...

Both early English versions (Wycliffe and Tyndale)  include "man's day," which is changed to "man's judgment" in the KJV. That's a worthy commentary and description of how this day works, but it does rob from the original.

We need to be careful with the word "judgment." Judgment is not only condemnation, In fact, on its own, it never means that. Something can be judged worthy of condemnation, but the judgment itself is not condemning. In scripture we have Israel pleading for God's judgment. There are many examples of this, but we need only look at one, from Psalm 72.

He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.

This is good news for the poor. God's judgement are fair. And we need only look to the future placement of the twelve sitting on twelve thrones "judging" the twelve tribes of Israel. They won't be walking around condemning Israel, they will be ruling and making righteous decisions. What they hold bound on earth will be bound in heaven.

Surely we live in the Day of Man. We are subject to the judgment of men. Sometimes this is righteous, often not. Paul's warning in 2 Tim 3 is that "evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived." Man's judgments will become more corrupt as we work through the "last day." Can you imagine even pagan Rome approving of what we celebrate in our world today? 


Christ's Day


The interesting thing about this "day" is that is crosses dispensational boundaries in expectation. That is, the believers of the Acts Age and the believers of the Post-Acts Age are both pointed to the Day of Christ. The difference is that the Post-Acts Age (the Dispensation of the Mystery) was not seen as delaying it. The conditions, practices, order, and some future expectations differ, but both seem to be looking for this Day.

The Lord referred to this Day in his earthly ministry, revealed by John after the Acts Age ended.

“Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day: and he saw it, and was glad” -John 8:56

Here are the references in Paul's epistles incorporating teaching during the Acts and the Post Acts periods:

“Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” -1 Cor 1:8 
“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” -1 Cor 5:5 
“As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus” -2 Cor 1:14 
“Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ” -Phil 1:6 
“That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ” -Phil 1:10 
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain” -Phil 2:16

Often expositors equate this "day" with "the Day of the Lord."  But the conditions do not fit. The conditions of the days themselves and the conditions laid out for believers.

This is not the Second Coming of Christ, rather it is the Second Coming of the Holy Spirit. The following passages certainly do not refer to the Day of the Lord. In Acts 2, after the Spirit came upon the twelve there, we read:

Acts 2:17-18, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy”

Peter is quoting the prophecy of Joel. Clearly, the Spirit did not fall upon "all flesh" (or all Israel) at that time. This was a foretaste. It was the first coming of the Spirit, which, like the first coming of Christ, was not the full manifestation of his presence. 

The Lord speaks of the future coming of the "Comforter." But can we say the coming at Pentecost fulfilled his prophecy? 

John 16:7-12, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: Of sin, because they believe not on me; Of righteousness, because I go to my Father, and ye see me no more; Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
Who is "the prince of this world?" This phrase is only used three times in scripture, all by the Lord, all in the Book of John. I suggest he is referring to Himself. The Holy Spirit will judge the world for the world took it upon itself to judge Christ. Remember, judgment is a fair assesment according to righteousness. It is not necessarily a condemnation. Christ has been declared righteous by the Father;  those who condemn Christ will be judged by the same standard. 

Daniel calls Christ, "Messiah the Prince." Of the antichrist, Gabriel says to Daniel, "he shall also stand up against the Prince of princes." The Lord Jesus Christ is the Prince of princes!


Lord's Day


So much has been written on this topic. I will keep this brief and make only limited reference. It is the day that comes "as a thief in the night" and is connected to the Great Tribulation and the related prophetic passages. That time of tribulation leads into the millennial reign of Christ at his return (his physical presence, the parousia). 

Otis Sellers notes (excerpt):

This testing period is of unknown duration, but does include at its consummation the last seven years of the 490 years prophesied by Daniel (Dan. 9:24-27), the last 3½ years are described by Christ as being the greatest in tribulation. 
The “lawless one” makes himself known. (2 Thes. 2:3, 4) “The falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. He is destroyed at the coming (parousia) of Jesus Christ. (2 Thes. 2: 8). 
During the rebellion some of the faithful are martyred. They are the honored “dead in Christ” who will rise first at His coming (parousia). (1 Thes. 4:16, 17) For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

God's Day

This day includes the cleansing spoken of by Peter and the coming in of the New Jerusalem and a new heavens and a new earth.

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat. Nevertheless, we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness” -2 Peter 3:12-13
And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. -Rev 21:13

 We cannot comprehend this day now, but after centuries of training by the Lord, we will have greater understanding and expectation when that day finally arrives.

Again, I keep my eraser handy!

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