In These Last Days
Are we in the Last Days?
God's purpose for the heavenlies is revealed in the Word. It was His first revealed plan. And it will be finished some day.
God's purpose for the earth and the heavens above it are also revealed in the Scriptures. But this is secondary. However, it is necessary that this one be worked out so that the first can be accomplished. So these purposes are dependent on each other to a certain degree.
The administration of the mystery was first in God's mind before the overthrow, before sin entered and ruined the first kosmos. And according to the prison epistles, this has to do with heavenly places and those that dwell in them, as well as those who some day will be resurrected and manifested there.
God had revealed that the nations of the earth were to be blest thru Abraham and his seed after him, that is, Israel. And from Israel would come the Messiah, the promised Seed, to accomplish all this.
Israel failed, and so there is no channel of blessing to the nations today. They are not being blest. And this state has been with us for almost 2000 years. And since the nations cannot and are not now blest, what is going on? Very few people know the answer to this question. It is because they do not know the Scriptures. Only they give the answers.
Even those who know about the administration of the mystery seem to be confused about when it began. They know about it, but they do not really know it. That is the problem.
When did it begin? It began when Israel were divorced and set aside, when they finally failed to believe and follow their Messiah and take part in the promised kingdom.
Nine of our NT books were written after this setting aside of Israel and a new program began. First was the gospel of John. It was written for the whole world. It was written that folks might believe, so it was written to unbelievers. And the purpose was that they might have life, a new nature or creation within them, so that they might be able to comprehend the gospel of the administration of the mystery.
The mystery was proclaimed by Paul from his hired house in Rome, even though in chains. It was especially set forth in letters to the Ephesians and Colossians. At this point Luke wrote the Acts of the apostles to explain how that Israel failed and the nation of Israel set aside. Acts is really in defense of Paul and his special ministry of the mystery or secret.
And so God's first purpose was made known.
Now we can understand that in the little hired house in Rome happened one of the greatest and far-reaching events in world history. There was a great gap in the times of the Gentiles beginning at that point. And Israel left the scene as a nation from that day to this. No prophecy for the period since AD 70.
Because of the widespread ignorance of God's present purpose in connection with the heavenly places, men have gone back to former things of another administration. They seek to revive the old things which have passed away. And that is idolatry, even as the worship of the brazen serpent 800 years after it had served its purpose in the wilderness. With Israel Lo-Ammi (not My people) today, the uncircumcised have stolen their feasts, washings, and the like and set them up as objects of worship.
The above conglomeration is what we call Christendom today.
In the OT there were prophets, judges, and kings. When they knew the signs of the times, they knew what to do. So Israel had plenty of instruction. But they wandered far from it at times. And so it is today with the churches.
The spiritual unity of the church today is voiced in Ephesians 4:3-6. It is already made. All that needs to be done is to keep it. But men turn their backs on it and try to make all kinds of fleshly unities of their own. But all in vain. There is only one unity of the Spirit. Those who keep and hold this unity are the true circumcision, worshiping God in Spirit and having no confidence in the flesh.
Everywhere you go, it seems that all want to start their studies, whether at home or in the church, in Matthew yet Matthew does not speak of our Hope and calling. That Gospel is about the King and the kingdom here on earth, the hope of Israel and the promise of the prophets.
Not only do men try to go back to the ordinances of the law of Israel, but they also seek Israel's spiritual gifts, those connected with the kingdom only. At no place in the Word can you find one manifesting spiritual gifts who at the time had the hope of going to heaven some day. They had the hope of the kingdom here on earth. No spiritual gifts in connection with the church which is the body of Christ and of which He is the Head.
The good workman rightly divides the Scriptures. He knows the difference between kingdom and church. He knows the difference between Jew and Gentile as they appear in the Word. In the records, the nations are mentioned only as they come into contact with Israel. Otherwise they are not known to the Scriptures. For example, notice Egypt, Assyria, Moab, Ruth, Rahab, Rome, and others who are mentioned.
All people outside of Israel are called Gentiles in the Bible. And these Gentiles make up the 70 nations. But the nation (singular) is Israel. This simple right division can help to avoid many errors.
These nations and Israel are both named before they existed. See Genesis 10:5 and compare with Deuteronomy 32:8. This might be significant, too. Then we discover that in the Bible, history is recorded only when Israel is on the scene.
Whenever Israel goes off the scene, then mystery begins. The word mystery first occurs in Daniel 2:18 where it is translated secret, but the LXX has it as musterion which is the mystery as used in Ephesians. Same word.
So a mystery was shown when Israel were Lo-Ammi, captive in Babylon. And today Israel is off the scene again, and so this is the time for the mystery to be revealed. When the purpose of this mystery is completed, then Israel will be in their place again.
This captivity of Israel in Babylon was the beginning of the times of the Gentiles. It is evident from Scripture that the prophetic times of the Gentiles were to run 581 years, from 496 BC to AD 85. There has been a break in this prophecy and that is where the mystery comes in.
All though there is a break of almost 400 years between what we call the OT and NT, there is really no break. Malachi tells that the Messiah is coming, and Matthew tells the same people, Israel, that He has come. The ministry of John the baptizer comes nearer to being in the category of Malachi than in Matthew or the other gospels. He was a prophet.
At the time our Lord was on earth in the flesh, the masses were superficial. Few were found faithful. And so it is today. People have not changed in character. The same indifference to spiritual things is seen on every hand just as it was over 1900 years ago. The world, the flesh, and the devil have done their work.
The Son of Abraham, the Son of David, the Son of God, came and walked their streets, mingled with the people, walked their highways, proclaimed the good news of the kingdom, and was rejected and crucified.
All that was done by His own (people). They missed what they had looked for over the centuries and they will not see Him again as a nation till they see Him appear, even as He did to Saul of Tarsus. And then they will mourn. But they will be ready for Him then.
His coming was not only good news to the Jews, but also to the Gentiles. For it was promised that in Him would all the nations be blest. Gentiles will be blest in the Seed of Abraham; Israel in the Seed of David.
When the 12 apostles will be raised from the dead at the beginning of the millennium, then will their great commission begin, to teach all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Then will the earth purpose be started again, and finally come to its fruition, the blessing of the nations thru Israel as a channel.
Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that the 3 gospels are merely a continuation of the OT. Study these words carefully. Before Israel could help usher in a kingdom of righteousness, they also needed a Saviour to save them from their sins. And this same thing is the great need of the nations, too. That kingdom will come.
We note in passing that the first 2,000 years (circa) which deal with the nations is covered by the first 11 chapters of Genesis.
About the next 2,000 years are dealt with in the remainder of Genesis, the 38 remaining books of the OT, 3 gospels, The Revelation, the 7 epistles of the Circumcision, and the first 7 epistles of Paul.
And in the present era, almost 2,000 years, are John, Acts, and Paul's last 7 epistles.
So in round numbers, the past 3 epochs are of about 2,000 years each in duration. We can only guess what time will be left till the great fire breaks out and ushers in the new heavens and earth. It could be another 6,000 years, but we do not know. No definite figures given.
We read in Matthew 12:6, Matthew 12:41-42 that Israel rejected One who was greater than any priest, prophet or king. Verses Matthew 12:43-45 tell of the coming apostasy and the end. God's earth purpose seems to be failing. But that is only from man's viewpoint. All is going on schedule.
It is significant that in Matthew 12:46-50, the Lord severs fleshly ties (with His family).
And then in chapter 13 the mysteries of the kingdom and its postponement for the time are opened up to the faithful remnant.
The times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24) had a break at Acts 28:28, having 21 of the 581 years yet to run. We should look up every date and figure we can, to put them together to see the progress of the earth purpose.
Many think that the history of Israel ended when they rejected and murdered the King. But their history did not end till they were rejected as being God's People at A.D. 64 (circa). There Isaiah 6:10 was for the last time quoted and the axe fell on Israel. From that day till now Israel has been neither a kingdom, a nation, or even a people. And so no blessing for the nations.
There is a vast difference between the mysteries of Matthew 13 and The Mystery of Ephesians 3:3. We must keep in mind that Israel and the earth purpose have to do with things since the overthrow, and The Mystery has to do with things before the overthrow, and deals with heavenly places.
Israel still has a future. The Lord has said, They shall look upon Me Whom they have pierced
(Zechariah 12:10-14). This is similar to Paul's conversion on the Damascus road. Paul was then a pattern of them (Israel) who should some day believe. Paul spoke then of himself as one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:8). Paul is a type of the remnant (Romans 11:1). According to Isaiah 61:6, Israel were to be priests of the Lord. Priests could make sacrifices, as well as being mediators between God and the nations. So then Paul takes the place of a priest in Romans 15:16 and offers up the Gentiles in this priestly role. Something is about to happen.
A break occurs in Acts 19:8-9, where Paul separates the disciples from the synagogue.
From Acts 19:8-9 where Paul separated the disciples from the Synagogue, events rapidly advance toward the time when Israel will no longer be a nation. From Acts 15, the 12 faded out of the picture and Paul took the stage. The 12 had preached the gospel of the kingdom in the land. No success after the initial burst of interest at Pentecost and afterward for a season. Then Paul went to the Synagogues outside the land proclaiming the kingdom, and again they received Him (their Messiah) NOT.
But going back to Acts 20, we find Paul making his last and 5th trip to Jerusalem after his conversion on the Damascus road. Paul had no idea of what would happen in Jerusalem, except what the Lord had told him at the beginning, what he must suffer. And so at Jerusalem he awaited bonds and afflictions. Even this might be the end of his life, for he is sure that it is near the end of his course, his apostleship, preaching the gospel of the grace of God.
This period is the twilight of Israel. The nite is fast approaching when no man can work. The dark ages are at hand, and today we are in the last of this period and morning will again break for Israel.
Paul arrived at Jerusalem. We need not go into details, except that he was arrested, and spent 2 years in prison at Caesarea. This is the last of the record of Jerusalem. The rest of its story can be found in prophecy and history. See Deuteronomy 28:49-57 and Luke 21:24.
Then the trip to Rome. We must stop for an event or two. The shipwreck is important. Even though Paul is a prisoner, he is the master of the situation. God is giving him a free trip to Rome. It must not be interrupted. So we find that the crew, the soldiers, and even the centurion must indeed fellowship with the sufferings of Paul, even as he did with the sufferings of Christ. The sun and the stars were hidden, even as it became night on Calvary. The condition of the salvation of all on board was with Paul, that is, they had to be saved with him, or not at all. He had the final words on that event. In all, 276 souls were saved. The hinder part of the ship was broken, as was the heel of Christ bruised on Calvary. A viper was rendered harmless and shaken into the flames, the old serpent himself signified. And there was much healing on the island, the release from the power of Satan. This certainly was not all accidental. There is a reason for all these foreshadowings.
Then in Rome Paul was stationed in his own hired house with a Roman guard. The Jews could no longer persecute him. He now is in a position to be able to work unhindered. But we are anticipating. For his course is not finished till he makes a final appeal to the leaders of the Jews. So he calls them together. And here is one of the turning points of history.
We are already beginning to see that a lot of time must intervene before God's first purpose comes out into the open and is revealed. Before age times a promise had been made in Christ that there would be life, and that implies the end of death. This has to do with God's creation here in the heaven and the earth created in Genesis 1:1.
And we will have to wait and see what the heavenly places has to do with it all.
Now we are ready to proceed with the tale. With Paul in Rome, a prisoner in his own hired house. He called the leaders of the Jews to meet with him. He makes a final appeal to them to recognize Christ as their Messiah, spending the day arguing from the Scriptures (Moses and the Prophets). But to no avail.
They departed. But this is in the passive voice and really means "They were dismissed." This phrase was used by a Jew when he divorced his wife (See Matthew 1:19; Matthew 5:31-32). Here is where Israel for the last time became Lo-Ammi (not My people). And they have been in this condition for almost 2000 years.
One cannot begin to imagine what this event did to world history from that time on. The Jews are not a kingdom, nor a nation, nor even a people today because of this event. They may claim to be a nation, but God has not recognized it, nor will He.
It is well that you study carefully Acts 28:23-31. Note every word and its significance and relation to others.
Note: That to the Jews we find these words, Expounded the kingdom ...Jesus...law of Moses and the Prophets ...morning till evening.
That to the Gentiles we find these words,
Preaching...teaching...Lord Jesus Christ ...two whole years.
Compare this 2 years with Hosea 6:2-3.
Did Paul wait 2 years before telling about the mystery? No, that was the theme of his teaching and proclaiming during that time. So it is a foregone conclusion that to the first Gentiles that came to call on him, he told them about the mystery. No doubt he was given this secret from the Lord immediately after the all day meeting. And it is evident that the folks in Ephesus heard by messengers from Rome about this mystery and believed (Ephesians 1:12-15; Colossians 1:3-8, and many other references).
It took around 4,000 years for God to get to the place He could choose a people from among the nations of the earth to inhabit the heavenly places and take the place that Satan and his gang desired to attain. And in all this time there was the problem of a Redeemer who could take care of the problem of sin and death and bring in eternal life in the earth and at the same time replenish the heavenly places for what was lacking. This was the secret. Satan never knew it till it was revealed to Paul. That is also our source of information.
In beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1). Was this the beginning of everything? Or was it the beginning of a purpose?
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? ...When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy (Job 38:4-7)? Look at this twice. It appears that before the earth was created, there were beings existing, created beings. Is this not strange? But we have a parallel in Genesis 2:7-8 where we are told of the creation of Adam, and then the garden was planted and prepared for him and he was put in it. Strange?
And when you read Ezekiel 28:13-15 you find that there was a created being back in those times who had been created most beautiful and wise and he had drums and pipes. No doubt he was the leader of that great choir which sang when the earth was created.
So then we must conclude that the heaven and the earth were created for creatures to inhabit. For thus saith Jehovah Who created the heavens; God Himself Who formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain (empty), He formed it to be inhabited: I am Jehovah; and none else (Isaiah 45:18) The heavens and the earth had inhabitants many long ages or millenniums before Adam. We speak relatively as to time, for time really did not begin till the overthrow. We must admit that the great event of Genesis 1:1 cannot be measured back in the past by any of our time reckonings.
These creatures, along with Lucifer their king, were sentient beings. They had the power of choice. And they exercised it. Many followed the leader in rebellion and revolt against the Most High. And many also remained faithful.
God had a reason for giving this choice. To be morally upright, one must have a choice. There is no evidence that the faithful ones are either in the earth or in the heavens above us (firmament). The powers that remain in the heavens have a prince, Satan. Read Ephesians 2:2. Where did the rest of them go?
Your guess is as good as ours, but we do read of principalities and powers, and mights and dominions in heavenly places which is a realm far above all creation. How did they get there? Did they pass their time of probation and get a reward in those places?
Do not get hasty about conclusions. All the evidence we can get must be brought in. We do not want to err in this weighty question. Why? Because the church of which Christ is the Head has a very intimate relationship with these beings. So then, this is relevant to us today. But we must take up this relationship and its significance later on.
Please study and search this out.
To Adam and Eve, God said, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth (Genesis 1:28). They were to fill the earth with the human race because the earth had become waste and empty as recorded in Genesis 1:2. Note that the same words are used to Noah and his family after the flood when again the earth had become empty (Genesis 9:1).
But this replenishing of the earth was only a secondary purpose of God. Certainly something must be done to repair the break caused by Satan's fall and those with him. And we believe we have found the answer.
When the word pleroma, fulness, is first used in the NT, it is concerning a patch that is to fill up a rent (Matthew 9:16). And this same word pleroma is used of the church which is His Body in Ephesians 1:23. This church is destined to be placed in heavenly places along with principalities and powers. Can it be that this church is the pleroma that is to fill up the place to which Satan and his followers tried to steal?
In Ephesians 1:18 Paul prays that the saints might know the riches of the glory of God's inheritance in the holiest (heaven itself). In Ephesians 2:6 it is stated that members of the church are enthroned with Christ in heavenly places, potentially even now. In Ephesians 2:19 we find that the members are citizens of the holiest (See Philippians 3:20), and of the household of God. Can this household be those who once were on earth and in the heavens above it and have been translated into the heavenly places? And in Colossians 1:12 the members are made meet to be partakers of the inheritance in the holies in the light. What light? Can it be the glory light of the holiest of all where God dwells?
So far Christ is hid from the powers in the heavens, but some day will be manifested (the epiphaneia) and those of the church will be manifested there with Him (Colossians 3:4). Some day the things on the earth (the church) and things in heaven will be under one Head (Ephesians 1:9-10). The church is a part of the new creation mentioned in Colossians 1:16-20 and is associated with thrones, dominions, principalities and powers. Peace and reconciliation are mentioned in this connection. And we begin to discover that Ephesians and Colossians especially are about things on earth and things in heaven, that is, the church of the mystery and those powers in the heavenly places.
There is the promise to the members that if they suffer or endure, they will reign with Him. Where? Here or there? And finally, we note that the church right now is making known the manifold wisdom of God to these principalities and powers in heavenly places. And it was in this great wisdom that He has planned the ages, and made provision for filling heavenly places.
God Bless you now go look and see.
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