THE GREAT TRIBULATION
By Elaine Cook
(The Lord has been dealing with me and with others in the Body of Christ about the "decoys" in Christendom. Upon asking the Lord how that word applied to Christians, He said that they were the teachings that were being used to distract God’s people so that they may be ensnared and trapped. This is done by their keeping their eyes on events that are "supposed to happen" so that Jesus can come, rather than keeping their eyes on Jesus!)
"Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf, the big bad wolf?" I hear the children chant at their play. It seems many Christians are afraid of one particular wolf called "the great tribulation." This fear that has been planted in their hearts prevents them from seeing God’s plan and purpose for them. When I speak to some people about the kingdom, they raise up the barrier of this great tribulation that must come first. I’d like to shoot down this decoy–this scary wolf, before their eyes, and render it dead and powerless to keep them from walking in all that Jesus has purchased for them.
It’s hard for believers to see that the kingdom has come because they believe the "great tribulation" must come first. Of course, they don’t want to be here for that, so they want to make their hasty exit out of here! Expecting Matthew 24 and Luke 7 to be fulfilled in the future prevents them from seeing that the kingdom came in Acts 2. Jesus said, "I won’t drink wine with you again until I drink it anew with you in the kingdom."
On the day of Pentecost, they tasted wine that had never been drunk before and they toasted the king and the coming of the kingdom. The kingdom is not meat and drink, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Ghost. So–receiving the Holy Ghost gives us the kingdom potential to walk in the kingdom! The kingdom of God came in power!
"The big, bad wolf" teaching would have Christians believe they must go through seven years of tribulation before they can walk in the kingdom. They ask you: "Are you pre-trib, mid-trib, or post-trib?" If they knew the scriptures, they would be none of these. They could throw the whole "trib" out! Jesus said, "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world" John 16:33.
Daniel 9:24 (Amp.) tells us: "Seventy weeks (of years, or 490 years) are decreed upon your people and upon your holy city Jerusalem, to finish and put an end to transgression, and to seal up and make full the measure of sin, to purge away and make expiation and reconciliation for sin, and to bring in everlasting righteousness (permanent spiritual and moral rectitude in every area and relation) and to seal up the vision and prophecy and prophet, and to anoint a holy of holies."
490 years is the scope of this prophecy. 70 weeks are determined, which means "chopped off." If they are chopped off, it doesn’t leave any place to separate one week from the whole.
Stephen Jones says in his book, Secrets of Time: "Daniel’s prophecy tells us that ‘the sacrifice and the oblation’ would cease in the midst of the final "week" (26-33 AD). This turns out to be the fall of 29 AD, specifically, the Day of Atonement of that year, when Jesus presented Himself to John for baptism.
"The usual theory is that ‘the clock stopped’, either at the beginning of the 70th week or in the middle of it and will be resumed at some point in the future. These views become irrelevant once we see that Jesus was indeed crucified at the full end of the 490-year period.
The Archko Volumes contain the legal documents of the priest and the Sanhedrin concerning Jesus and His conviction. There is a letter of resignation by Caiaphas, the high priest. He has just interviewed the Roman soldiers who watched the tomb and he says, "I have begun to think that something supernatural has happened. The protectors of His tomb have now become the heralders of His resurrection;. Money will not silence them. Under the threat of their lives they will not deny what happened. I talked with Peter, John, and Mary and for the first time, almost felt a spirit of suicide come over me. Is it possible that I, Caiaphas, have crucified the King of glory? Is it possible that I, the High Priest, have killed the very Son of God?
"In this state of mind I locked myself behind doors and I began to search the scriptures concerning Christ, knowing that if Jesus of Nazareth would stand in my presence, I would fall at His feet like a dead man. Behind closed doors, Jesus appeared to me and stretched forth His hand with the nailprints. I fell at his feet and he laid His hand on me and said, ‘Caiaphas, I didn’t just die for them. I died for you also.’ I therefore send this letter of resignation to the Sanhedrin, for there remains no more sacrifice for sin. I have crucified and offered the last lamb, the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world. The office of high priest is now superceded by a greater High Priest." (There are copies of this in the Vatican, but you can buy the Archo Volumes in bookstores).
The Lamb of God died and took away the sin of the world. The prophecy said He would:
1. "finish the transgression." Futuristic teachers tell you that never happened–that it is reserved for some time in the future. What that does is take away from the most powerful Messianic prophecy in the Old Testament of the sacrifice of Jesus! The enemy would like us to think it never happened and put it some place away out in the future. He would deceive us into thinking that there is some seven-year-hell-on-earth that is going to take place in the future and the only way God can save you is to snatch you out and hide you somewhere (as if the Blood didn’t have enough power to redeem men!)
There is no scripture for this theory! In fact, scripture denies it by saying the whole time of 490 years was determined (chopped off). That doesn’t mean you can split up the time and put half here and half there!
Matthew 24 is not something to happen in the future. Jesus said to that generation that some of them would not see death before they would see the kingdom of God coming in power! We need to understand what the kingdom is. The prophecy also said that Jesus would:
2. "make an end to sin." Did He do that? The next thing He was to do was:
3. "make reconciliation for iniquity." "God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" 2 Cor. 5:19. (Did He do that?) The next thing He was to do was:
4. "bring in everlasting righteousness." Because He was made a sin offering, he was able to bring in everlasting righteousness
5. He "sealed up the vision and prophecy" because He was the fulfillment of the law and the prophets. Everything that was supposed to happen in this week, happened in the work and person of the Lord Jesus Christ.
6. He came "to anoint the most holy." The Amplified Bible says, "He came to anoint the holiest of holies." This is not a certain spot in the tabernacle. It is a person! Now we are able to come boldly into the Most Holy Place by the Blood of Jesus through a new and living way. The only veil that remains to be removed is the veil over our minds!
7. "confirm the covenant with many for one week (seven years)."
This prophecy, of 490 years, was to natural Israel. Why 490 years? Because it is a multiple of sabbaths and jubilees. God said, "You must forgive until 70 times 7. He is giving Israel every opportunity to repent and turn back to Him. He cannot step out of His covenant with them until He has given them every opportunity to return.
When Luke 17:34 speaks of two men in a bed (the one shall be taken and the other left), He looks at natural Israel and says, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, murdering the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you! How often would I have gathered your children together as a mother fowl gathers her brood under her wings, and you refused! Behold, your house is forsaken and desolate–abandoned and left destitute (of God’s help). For I declare unto you, you will not see Me again until you say, Blessed–magnified in worship, adored and exalted–be He Who comes in the name of the Lord!" Jesus was telling them, "Your house is left unto you desolate. I am about to step out of your house!" ("Ichabod", the glory has departed, would be written over the door of that temple!)
"The abomination that maketh desolate" is not some antichrist that will come, but it is what happened when Jesus stepped out of that house because Israel as a nation rejected Him by blaspheming the Holy Ghost. It was not an individual sin, but a national sin when they said, "He casts out devils by the prince of devils."
Jesus said, "The blasphemy of the Holy Ghost will not be forgiven in this world or in the world to come." "World" here means "age." Israel as a nation was not forgiven in the Age of the Law, nor in the Church Age (though individuals have been saved).
We have just closed the second age and I know God says that all Israel shall be saved, but I don’t believe that the Lord is looking at some natural people in a little country in Palestine. He means all Israel, all China, all India, all Africa, all the United States, etc., because God has brought in a NEW COVENANT! He didn’t just cast Israel out–He drew a bigger circle and said, "If you want to be a part of this covenant promise, I’m going to confirm a covenant. I’m going to offer you a new covenant. I’m going to confirm that covenant to you for one week" (seven years.)
In the parables, Jesus reveals what He was doing. He told them, "There a certain rich man who fared sumptuously (that speaks of natural Israel). He had all the riches of the covenants and promises on his table. But Lazarus, a "dog", represents the Gentiles who said, "We’d just like a few crumbs from your table." (The Israelites commonly referred to the Gentiles as "dogs.")
When the rich man found himself in hell, he lifted up his eyes and cried: "Father Abraham!" He calls him "Father." (The Jews said, "We have Abraham to our Father"). "Father," he said, "If you’d just send someone to warn my brothers . . . if some one from the dead goes to them, they will repent."
Abraham answered, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." (Jesus raised his friend, Lazarus, from the dead and they didn’t believe. Jesus, Himself, was raised from the dead and they didn’t believe!)
There was a great gulf fixed between them that they could not cross over. In the Companion Bible footnotes, the word "gulf" is a medical term which means "a gaping wound."
There is only one way to get across this great gulf that separates natural Israel from the life of God and that is through the gaping wound of Calvary’s cross. They need to realize that Jesus was their propitiation (mercy seat). They cannot possess the covenant of promise by natural lineage or heredity. They must be re-gene-erated, born from above, to have a new heredity!
After Jesus died and was raised, He instructed His disciples to go first to Judah and Jerusalem. He must honor His agreement to natural Israel.
We can see that when the little Gentile woman came asking for healing for her daughter, Jesus answered, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs." (Mat. 15:24,26).
When the fulfillment of the 490 years was up (the time appointed for Israel’s repentance), at this precise time, Stephen was telling them how they had crucified the Lord of glory, and for this they stoned him to death. When he fell down dead, Jesus stood up. The clock just struck midnight and their 490 years were over. He said, "I’m stepping out of My covenant with you."
The next thing that happens is that we find Phillip in a chariot preaching the gospel to an Ethiopian. There was no doubt this was in the will of the Lord, for the Spirit had carried him to that place to minister to that man. Then, the gospel is preached at Cornelius’ house and an Italian gets saved. After that, Paul was apprehended of God and called to take the gospel to the Gentiles (nations). God is not a racist! It is the day of the new man–"if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature."
We don’t have a future seven years of hell on earth to look forward to. It has truly been gloriously fulfilled! What we can look forward to is that "of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end."
We’re a part of a kingdom that cannot be moved. We’re that little rock cut out of the mountain without hands that will fill all the earth. This is what we have to look forward to! ". . . the God of heaven (shall) set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever." (Dan. 2:44)
In Mat. 24 Jesus was warning the people prophetically of the destruction of Jerusalem and telling them to flee when the Roman armies were at the gate.(History records that they obeyed and were spared to spread the gospel). The "other prince" Daniel speaks of is Titus, the head of Rome’s armies who was appointed to destroy the city.
"The overspreading of abominations shall make it desolate" was fulfilled in 70 A.D. when the city and the temple were utterly destroyed so that they could not reinstitute animal sacrifices. God would now live in temples not made with hands. (Those who are looking for a renewed temple in Jerusalem have not understood this). God had moved on to a new covenant which included all people.
At the same time that Jesus died and rose again, He got rid of one of the men that were in your bed. All you have to do to identify with that new man is to get in the water and bury the old one! Identify with the Lord in baptism. Baptism in the Red Sea and the sea of glass depict the same picture. The same water that destroys their enemies, saves them. The water that was in there came from the smitten Rock. We are washed by the washing of the Word.
The Word says we are dead and our life is hid with Christ in God. When we look in the mirror, it should not be to see "How ugly am I?" We should not always be looking to see what’s wrong with us. We are to behold in the Word of God, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord. And, as we behold the glory we are changed into that selfsame image from glory to glory. We become what we are beholding!
If the saints would cease having as their goal in life an escape from "the great tribulation", they might find they could learn to walk in the kingdom of God. This would truly be an answer to our Lord’s prayer: "Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven."
THE ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION
The Lord has been dealing with me to continue to write about the decoys in Christendom–those things that are being used to distract (so that you may be ensnared and trapped) by keeping your eyes on events that are "supposed to happen" so that Jesus can come, instead of keeping your eyes on Jesus!
In Christendom, we have those who have a worship based on historical facts; and those who have had some minimal experiences of His Spirit. Then, there is a large number whose faith in God is based upon what He is going to do tomorrow. All the denominations have different beliefs, but when it comes to the end times, they all believe the same: that there will be a series of events that will unfold in order to bring Jesus back.
Let us look at some of these "events" to determine if it is true that we should "wait for them to happen", to see if they are relevant to His coming. Understand this: we won’t find any of the answers in current events, but in the Bible alone.
The disciples asked Jesus three questions. It is these questions that the church world is still struggling with. In Mat. 24, and Luke 21, the disciples are pointing out to the Lord the grandeur of the temple (in case He hadn’t noticed!) His answer was, "There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down."
At that point, they asked Him, "When will this take place, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?"
Why would they need a sign? Jesus had told them, "I am going back to the Father. I’m going away, but I’m not going to leave you comfortless. I shall come to you." They were asking for a sign because they knew they wouldn’t see Him with their natural eyes again. He was going to come to them in a new way and they wanted to be prepared to understand.
In John 14:18-20, He tells of His coming in Spirit. "I will not leave you orphans...I will come (back) to you. Just a little while now and the world will not see Me any more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. At that time–when that day comes–you will know (for yourselves) that I am in My Father, and you (are) in Me, and I (am) in you."
One disciple wanted to know, "How is it that You will reveal Yourself–make Yourself real–to us and not to the world?"
Jesus answered, "If a person (really) loves Me, he will keep My word–obey My teaching and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home (abode, special dwelling place) with him."
That was a big transition for them to make in their thinking. May I say that many Christians today still have not made that transition from seeing and knowing Him after the flesh to knowing Him after the Spirit. They think that Jesus is coming back in a manner in which their physical eyes can see Him. They have never understood what Jesus meant about His return "in Spirit"to lead and guide them into all truth.
To their question, "When shall these things be?" Jesus had already given the answer. He said, "Truly, I declare to you, all these (evil, calamitous times) will come upon this generation." At the time, he was addressing the scribes and Pharisees–the ones who "sat in Moses’ seat" and whom he called "a generation of serpents and vipers."
Further, He told them, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." He showed His disciples that the things they were asking about had to do with the "house" or "temple" in Jerusalem that would be made desolate. He was talking about the end of the old order of the Jewish religion, (not about some supposed restored temple that would be built 2000 years hence!) He refers to Daniels’s prophecy in Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11 which clearly points to the work of the Messiah in fulfilling the Old Covenant and bringing in the New.
Dispensationalists contend that a future antichrist will "make" a covenant with the Jews. It is then taught that he will "beak" that covenant. The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ "confirmed" the covenant with many. The words "make" or "break" are not found in Daniel 9:27. The everlasting covenant in Jesus’ blood was confirmed with the Jews for seven years before God turned to all nations. There is nothing in Rev. 4:19 mentioning any antichrist making any covenant with the Jews and then breaking it!
The second part of the question was, ‘And what shall be the sign of Thy coming?" The world "coming" here is the Greek word "parousia" which means "presence" (from root words "to be present, to be at hand, to be by, to have arrived").
The disciples now understood that they were not going to"see" Him again when these "things" happen. What things? When one stone is not left upon another in the destruction of Jerusalem!
"And when will we know the sign pointing to your ‘presence’ and, finally, what shall be the end of the world?" This is a poor translation, for it should read, "the end of the age."
Then He warned them of things that would come: offenses, betrayal, false prophets, many would be hated and killed for His name’s sake. In order for these things to be fulfilled, mass murder and strong persecution that would have to happen. Jerusalem’s destruction saw 97,000 taken captive and 1,100,000 killed and their dead bodies were stacked in the street. This fulfilled the great tribulation that Jesus spoke about in Matthew.
Those that teach all these things as future, claim that the two princes in Daniel’s prophecy are Christ and antichrist. Darby taught that the "Messiah the Prince" is Jesus Christ, and the second is "the prince who shall come", the wicked antichrist who shall be revealed after the Church is raptured from the earth. They say that antichrist will desecrate a newly rebuilt Jewish temple by proclaiming himself to be God, and then will set up a statue of himself for the world to worship.
In truth, the second prince was the Roman Emperor who sent General Titus to level Jerusalem and make it like a ploughed field. Kelly Varner says, "The sensationalized "last days" of contemporary sign-seekers was in fact the "last days" of Judaism and its animal sacrifices! By relegating the 70th week to the future, the enemy has covered up the greatest seven years of human history–the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the coming of the Holy Spirit to empower the Church! The time of Daniel’s 70th week is the time of all times, the time of Immanuel. The enemy thinks, ‘I’ll keep the Church afraid of a future tribulation with its antichrist. To keep their minds off the truth that Jesus was made flesh, I’ll tell them that I will be made flesh." To this the Word replies, "You met your match on a hill outside Jerusalem. It is finished! Jesus Christ is Lord! He ended all Levitical sacrifice and decreed your desolation."
In verse 14 of Mat. 24 we read, "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come." I’ve had people tell me that as soon as every person has heard the gospel, by satellite or whatever means, then Jesus can return! Did you know that by the time Paul wrote the epistle to the Colossians, the gospel had been preached to every creature! This scripture was fulfilled, and ‘the end’ did not happen! It was not the end of the world that Jesus was speaking about, but the end of an age! Verse 15, "When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place . . . . . flee .. . . "
Jesus was referring to Daniel’s prophecy in Dan. 9:27. In the time frame of 490 years, historical events would take place among the Jews ("thy people") in Jerusalem ("the holy city") that would:
1. Finish the transgression.
2. Make an end of sins.
3. Make reconciliation for iniquity.
4. Bring in everlasting righteousness.
5. Seal up the vision and prophecy.
6. Anoint the most holy (holy of holies).
If we will acknowledge that Jesus did all those things, we need not wait for Him to come again to do them. We will know that this prophecy has been fulfilled and we do not need to look for things to "make it happen" in our day. Daniel said that 69 weeks would pass from the declaration of Cyrus for the Jews to return to Jerusalem to restore it, to the coming of the Messiah. Everyone agrees on this up to this point. What the denominations argue about is the last week–the 70th week.
In simple terms, the 70 weeks ran concurrently, with no interruption (as time always does! But, some theologians teach that after the 69 weeks, God reserved one week of seven years for now. (That really stretches all credibility!) It is widely taught that the church will be raptured before, or in the middle, or at the end of this seven-year-period. They say it is the time of ‘the Great Tribulation’ and the church won’t be here during that time. I don’t see that in the Lord’s plan. God does not have "escape plans"–only man does. God plans to make some overcomers, some sons to bring release to a dying world!
Vs. 27, "And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."
Why would He make it desolate? Because of the incredible number of abominations that occurred in Jerusalem. It was corrupt. Both people and priests had lost their vision of why they were offering sacrifices unto the Lord. Finally, the Spirit said to them through Isaiah,"He that killeth an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrificeth a lamb, as if he cut off a dog’s neck; he that offereth an oblation, as if he offered swine’s blood; he that burneth incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delighteth in their abominations" Isa. 66:3. He would no longer receive their offerings because their hearts were not right. He still calls "our own ways" an abomination–think of that!
One sister told me that she asked the Lord what He meant by the word "abomination" and he told her, "It is the self-life" (that makes us desolate!)
After 31/2 years (of the 70th week), Jesus offered Himself up to God as a fit sacrifice when he submitted to baptism in the Jordan River. This was His legal death, which, in God’s eyes, ended the sacrifices of the temple, making them ineffective. At the end of the last seven years, He died an actual, physical death, thus fulfilling Daniel’s prophecy to the letter.
Jesus had warned the Pharisees that they would not escape the judgment to come, but he told His followers that they could escape.
"When ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh" Luke 21:20. He warned them to flee when they saw this, "For these e the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." Historians tell us that the Christians remembered Jesus’ word and fled when Rome’s armies surrounded Jerusalem and they took the gospel to other countries (as recorded in Luke 21:20-22)
Jesus was not warning His followers bout something that was going to happen 2000 years later, but about events that would soon happen, in their lifetimes!
Dear saints, look not on "things out there" that "need to come" so that Christ may come to earth again! He has come as He said, and dwells now in ‘temples not made with hands.’ He is doing a work in His willing people to make them into His image and likeness. He is arising–coming–in His people–in His Body upon the earth!
I want to share what the Lord has been speaking to me recently because it has some bearing on this topic. On ‘April 17/00, He spoke to me: "Tell My people that I have come! Tell them I have come! Did I ;not say unto M:y Own, *‘Yet a little while and I will come to you?’ And did I not come in Spirit to fill my waiting ones so that they could know Me after the Spirit? The whole church world and the world that knows Me not, look for Me to appear again in My glorified body–to rule over all the earth and to bring it under subjection to Me.
"I say unto you that man’s thoughts concerning My coming are after their own vain imaginations. As it was in M:y first coming, they looked for Me in exterior ways–as a majestic One coming to reign in righteousness subduing with My mighty power, all the power of Rome.
"They understood not and could not even conceive of My coming in a humble birth lowered to the limitations of the flesh, so that I could bring victory over the flesh for every man. Even now, they do not ‘see’ that I have come in earthen vessels which I do sanctify by My presence to become ‘the temples of the living God’ where I live and dwell and have My being.
"This shall be My coming that men shall see–not a bright figure floating down from the heavens–but the Spirit of the living God arising in fullness in a people yielded completely to Him.
"This is My purpose. This is My plan. This is how I shall magnify Myself–by having myriads of My creation just like Myself through whom I may do all My good pleasure. I shall arise in their heavens of spiritual understanding and be made manifest to all men. Thus shall My Name (nature) be greatly magnified in all the earth!
"Is there another god like this–who would make the worshipper into the image of the god that he worships? So have I desired, and so shall it be."
THE PLACE OF HIS FEET
I’m sure we have all heard sermons telling us about the feet of Jesus standing upon the Mount of Olives upon His "second coming." This is another decoy that I want to shoot down. The main issues are these: Whose feet are standing there? And what does the mount of Olives signify? Bear in mind that the Old Testament is full of symbols, types, and shadows that represent spiritual realities. Now the Spirit is opening up the real so that we may understand and enter into it.
Zech. 14:4 tells us, "And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."
The earth is the Lord’s Footstool (Isa. 66:1). The Lord’s promise is, "And I will make the place of My feet glorious" Isa.60:13. God’s footstool has not been glorious for these 6000 years, but He has made provision that it shall be–through the manifestation of His sons, His mature ones. The "earth" that man is, is to be made glorious! This glorifying of the Lord’s footstool will not be completed until all enemies are under His feet (including death). Heb.2:6-11tells us of the place God gave man, "Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet," but goes on to add, "But now we see not yet all things put under him. But we see Jesus. . ." What was accomplished in the first begotten must also be done in His Body, even in the Feet Company!
Who are His Feet? Tradition says that "his feet" standing on the Mount of Olives means the feet of Jesus, in His flesh-body. Christ is a many-membered body with Jesus as the head. "Ye are the body of Christ, members in particular." We can discern the Lord’s Feet as we discern His Body. The "feet of Him" is a ministry that appears in God’s appointed time with a seasoned message proclaimed by a mature body.
Isaiah saw "How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings of good, that pubisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, thy God reigneth!" (Isa. 52:7; Nahum 1:15). This One brings good tidings, publishes salvation and proclaims the reign of God. His beauty is seen in His Feet.
"Him" is singular and masculine, which tells us it is a man, not a bride. Paul repeats this verse in Rom.10:15 but he has further revelation on it. He says, "How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things! That singular seed that fell into the ground and died has come forth, multiplied many times!
The Feet have contact with the earth. They are the firstfruits. In birthing, the Head comes first, and the feet last. Now is the hour when the feet of the new creation Man are brought forth in the fullness of His glory. First, they must be brought into subjection to Him and then He shall "subdue the people under them, and the nations under their feet" (Psalm 47:30
The meaning of the term "Mount of Olives" is quite instructive. A mountain is "a kingdom." Olives are a source of light, a symbol of light, peace and blessing. The Mount of Olives is symbolic of the sons standing upon the Olive Mountain (Kingdom) in the power of the anointing, to do battle against forces that oppose the kingdom of God.
Zech. 14 tells us of a mighty upheaval of nature: people fleeing; the mountain splitting to form a great valley, and the land turning into a plain. The light, at first dim, becomes brighter until at the evening time it is light. There is no more night for His firstfruits at the dawn of the New Day. They gradually bring the masses out of their tombs of ignorance and sin.
This upheaval is caused by His Feet (Body) standing upon the Mount of Olives. The mountain splits into two halves. This speaks of the two aspects of the kingdom anointing: kingship and priesthood. A Valley of Blessing is produced where people may flee to find grace through His anointed kings and priests. All that flee to this valley find mercy. (The Hebrew word for "mercy" is derived from the word for "olive".)
The Lord’s battle against the nations is not carnal, but spiritual–between the ways of the world and the ways of the kingdom. His weapons are the sword of the Spirit and He smites the nations with Truth and Life in order to set them free.
We have shuddered at the mental images that these words bring to us: "Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth" Zech. 14:12. Their flesh man shall surely consume away–their eyes (how they "see" things); their tongues (how they "say" things), as the old self nature is consumed by the Living Word.
And for those who refuse to go up to the Feast of Tabernacles, upon them shall be no rain–no "dew from heaven", no spiritual blessings. The Lord has come in His firstfruits, His foot company, to bring His people into a realm of fullness. The in-part, with all its limitations, is passing away!
The living waters issue forth from a Throne-people who will manifest His kingship and priesthood through them unto all creation.
These are the "feet" that stand on the kingdom of the anointing!
THE SECRET RAPTURE
We would be remiss if we neglected to shoot down that fanciful imagination of man: the secret escape-rapture of the saints This is not a doctrine that is taught in the Bible, in fact, the word "rapture" is not even found in the scriptures. If you had not been taught it, you would never find it there.
Neither is it a doctrine that was given to the early church and passed down unto us. In fact, it is "newly sprung up" (from around 1830). The early church fathers never heard of it!
When I was on the mission field in the early sixties, the Lord began to teach me the things of His Spirit. One of the first things He told me was that there would be no rapture. I wondered how I’d be able to tell other believers about this, for it has been a "comfort blanket" to them. As it turned out, I didn’t have to try to convince anyone of this, for the Lord had already told those with whom I shared. (They were ones who sought the Lord also and were taught of Him). Jesus said, "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God..."Jn. 7:17.
I believe this is one of the main reasons that the Lord draws His elect out of the systems of man. He wants to teach them truth and erase the mixture that has been given them through the traditions of men and their own imaginations. Some say, "I don’t bother with doctrine. Who needs it?" Doctrine means "teaching" and we all need it! We need to know God’s plan and purpose so that we can more readily flow into it and make spiritual progress rather than to be caught up doing our own thing.
There are two schools of theology: one school (historical) believes that most of the Bible has been completed. The other (futuristic) believes that most of the Bible is yet future. Evangelical Christians would be shocked to learn that some of their theology comes from the Roman Catholic Church.
This is how it happened: After the Reformation, people started pouring out of that church as they heard the Reformers say: "The just shall live by faith." The Roman church was losing money from the loss of these people and devised a way to distract them from the prevailing thought that the Pope was the Antichrist.
A Jesuit priest, Ribera, began to teach that the books of Daniel and Revelation were to be fulfilled in the future. If he could get the people to believe that, then, of course, the Roman Church with its Pope could not be the antichrist!
This Catholic writing was expanded upon to look for a physical antichrist–one man, a seven-year tribulation and a milllenniel reign of Christ upon the earth. This "futuristic" teaching entered evangelical Christianity in the 1800's. Lacunza, another Jesuit priest, wrote that Jesus must return twice, not once. This secret coming was a rapture so that the saints could escape the coming "tribulation" and the "antichrist."
Edward Irving, founder of the Catholic Apostolic Church, preached the idea of a rapture. He was a Scottish Presbyterian minister who had accepted the idea from Lacunza. During one of his services, a young Scottish woman named Margaret MacDonald spoke in prophecy concerning a secret rapture.
J. N. Darby was taken with this theory and influenced Scofield who put Darby’s notes in his "Scofield Bible" as if they were inspired by the Spirit. Those who studied this bible were greatly influenced by these "footnotes" and accepted them as gospel truth, not questioning them or searching out their source.
If a doctrine is true, it would not, I declare, be based upon the writings of a Jesuit priest, nor yet on an isolated prophecy. Neither of these sources lend any validity to this teaching. It did not come from "the Word once delivered unto the saints". We cannot accept it as truth when the word has been "twisted" to try to prove it!
What does the Bible say about the rapture? It states the exact opposite of this carnal, man-made teaching. This "futuristic" teaching claims that "As it was in the days of Noah," all the righteous would be ‘taken away.’ What actually happened in Noah’s day?
Luke 17:26-37 and Matt. 24:37-41 say very clearly that the flood of judgment came and took the wicked away, and the righteous were left to inherit the earth! This is directly opposite to the false teachings that claim the righteous are taken away into the sky for a big supper for seven years while the wicked are left to rule the earth. Also, the devil is left free to have his way in the lives of all men here. It looks very much like the Lord is defeated and can’t do any better than to snatch out a few people from the earth before the devil gets them. You may think, "God is too good to let His own dear people go through the tribulation." Was God too good to let the three Hebrew children be thrown into the furnace? No, but He was good enough to stay by their side in the furnace so that they came forth with nothing burned but their bonds! The furnace experience made them overcomers. And God is going to have some overcomers!
God permitted Daniel to be thrown to the lions as a testimony of His saving power. Don’t try to tell any of the martyrs of the Church that God was too good to let them go through persecution and tribulation. It’s a proven fact that the church has always grown strong and healthy in times of persecution and fiery trials. The preachers are not telling the people to put on the whole armor of God and to stand in the evil day.
Corrie Ten Boom (author of The Hiding Place) said that the saints in many countries fell away from the faith when persecution came and they were not raptured at the first sign of trouble (as they had been taught). They felt that God had failed them and His Word was not true. They did not "have a mind to suffer" if that should be their lot, knowing that the Lord would never leave them nor forsake them!
Many fables have been built around I Thess.4:13-18 which starts out by saying, "I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep (in death)." The subject matter here is what happens to those who have died–those who did not survive unto the coming of the Lord, until the manifestation of the sons of God that Paul preached about.
The question was,"Will they miss out on the glory of the Day of the Lord?" Paul answers, ‘No" in II Cor. 5. When a man of God dies, his body goes to one place and his spirit (his conscious life) goes to another. "To be absent from the body is to be in the presence of the Lord." We are not sleeping nor are we unconscious in His presence. That part of us that has eternal life is still living and conscious when we go into His presence. When the spirit leaves the body, the body immediately "descends" into that state of death, while the spirit "ascends" into His presence. This scripture is not talking about an escape rapture!
The song writers have said that Jesus "is coming back to catch His waiting Bride away." The Bible doesn’t say that! It never even implies that the return of Jesus is to rescue His Bride off this planet earth and take her to another geographical location where there are no battles and where she will be hidden from the face of the Antichrist! When the Bible speaks of being "caught up", it is not speaking in terms of miles or light-years away.
Paul tells us, in II Cor. 12:1-4,of being "caught up to paradise." Where did he go? Physically, he went nowhere. But he had an experience. God took him into that realm of life called paradise, or the third heaven. He had already experienced "the first heaven"which is the first entrance into the Tabernacle that brings us to the brazen altar (symbolic of Calvary). Eph. 1:3 declares that God has blessed us with "all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ." That is a heavenly place. You don’t have to "fly away" to get there. Calvary brings us into the first heaven.
The second heaven corresponds to the second realm of the Tabernacle, the sanctuary wherein dwells the candlestick and the golden altar of incense. When Eph.2:6 says that He "hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, it is not speaking of a physical ascent into the sky; it is talking about a spiritual ascent.
Paul had already ascended into the first two heavens with salvation and the baptism in the Spirit. Now God took him, for a little while, into that realm of life, the third heaven, which is our inheritance in Christ, whre he heard sacred secrets which he could not, at that time, repeat. (I believe the Lord is revealing them to His called-out ones today). This third experience, like the first two, is internal. It is a place, a realm, in which the person dwells. In this realm we have the means to live above the battle on the earth.
What about the "clouds" in which Jesus is supposed to return? The Bible never says that Jesus returns "to" the clouds, or "on" the clouds. It tells us that He comes "in" the clouds or "with" the clouds. Heb.12:1 tells us that the heroes of faith are a cloud. The Old Testament saints are called "a great cloud of witnesses." II Peter 2:17 and Jude 12 both tell us that false ministries are "clouds without water."
Eccl.11:3 says, ".....if clouds be full of rain, they empty themselves upon the earth." A true ministry has life to give, and is willing to empty himself in order to be a blessing to a dry and thirsty people. That’s what Jesus did–He poured His life out for others.
There is a very real "coming of the Lord" within His people to bring them into the fullness depicted by the Feast of Tabernacles. And there truly is to be a Marriage Supper, but this is a spiritual experience that we enter into within our very own person! It is a higher dealing with our soul and spirit. God’s Spirit will "arise" from within us to fill us with His nature. We teach "the appearing of Jesus" within His saints while the fundamental denominations teach "the disappearing of the Church." This doctrine appeals to those who feel they are too weak to overcome in this present life. Yet, God’s purpose is to save all His creation and He is creating "saviours" (Obadiah 12) to do the job. He is not going to snatch His Bride out the back door. He is going to make overcomers of those who will yield to His processings. Christ is going to bring all for whom He died--each man in his own order.
What about the "man of sin" who is "going to get us if we don’t watch out?" There is only one man of sin and he was already found in you when you accepted Christ as your Saviour. He is being slain by the glorious appearing of Jesus in you. The dust of the old nature is being swept out of your house by the Holy Spirit. The coming (parousia) of the Lord, the presence of the Lord within you, brings an end to the old man nature.
A dear friend was stirring the gravy in the pan when the Spirit asked her, "Where is antichrist?"
She answered, "I don’t know, Lord."
His reply to her was, "Look within." In the early church they spoke of antichrist being in their midst, so why are we waiting for him to come on the scene?
If the people of God would know about church history, they would have some frame of reference to determine if these teachings of the rapture are true or false. If they read about the destruction of Jerusalem, they would know that it fits perfectly what the scriptures say about the "great tribulation" that Jesus said would come to that generation that was still living!
Recently, the Lord spoke to my heart,"My people have listened to cunningly devised fables and have not searched out the truth concerning the manner of My coming. As My people of ancient times, they are convinced that nothing bad can happen to that "outward Jerusalem" which they esteem so highly. They are sure that I will save the city at any cost.
"They have not understood that I came to make of them a city born from above–a holy land in which My Spirit abides. They yet look to "outward" fulfillments and miss the grand purpose of My coming. And these things that they look unto shall pass away, for they are temporal and not spiritual.
"Let My called-out ones know of a surety that they are the temple that is being built, the city that is being restored that shall be a light unto the whole earth. Learn of these ancient things so that men’s fables shall hold no attraction for you, so that you shall be of one mind with Me to bring forth My purposes in the earth–for Babylon must fall and great shall be the fall thereof. But My called-out ones shall know and understand and shall not be shaken in this hour as it is happening. They shall rejoice over her fall, for they know the truth of My coming in them."
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
Having been brought up in a church with a social gospel, I had never even heard the term "the mark of the beast." I have still never heard it from the Lord, but He has talked to me about His mark upon our foreheads. Few realize that the Lord is "marking" His people. They give that no thought but rather, place all their attention on what the "beast" is going to do!
In the late sixties, the Lord began to deal with my heart to write for Him–to be a confirmer to those who are out of the church system. I was not quick to obey, for I felt there were so many others more qualified than I to write spiritual things. The Lord finally gave me a big "push" and I yielded. The push was a revelation of the mark of the Lord from Ezek. Ch. 9. A missionary was moved by the Spirit to tell me that I had been called to the Inkhorn Ministry spoken of in Ezekiel.
The account tells us of six men, each with a slaughter weapon in his hand, and one man clothed with linen who had a writer’s inkhorn by his side. This writer was sent on ahead, to "Go through the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and set a mark upon the foreheads of the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst thereof."
To the others who would follow, He said, "Slay utterly old and young . . . but come not near any man upon whom is the mark: begin at my sanctuary." Shortly after this vision, Jerusalem was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, but Jeremiah and Baruch and many poor of the land were spared.
The man with the inkhorn symbolizes God’s care for His own, and the mark He made on the foreheads of the faithful of that day was symbolic, so the sealing of the elect in Rev. 7 is symbolic and spiritual, not literal and physical. Today there is also a remnant who are sighing and crying continually before God because of the conditions they see. These will be the ones who are found with the mind of Christ, even the mark of God, and the judgments upon the present-day systems of man will not affect them.
Eph. 4:30 says, "Ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." The Lord doesn’t stamp us on the forehead or hand, but looses us, progressively, from one realm to another, from one nature to another, from one mind to another. We are being delivered from a world of self-assertive religious activities, and from the dominion of the carnal mind.
This verse has struck terror into many hearts who view it in a literal manner. "And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name" Rev. 13:17. This book is a symbolical, and spiritual book, intended to be spiritually understood. Buying and selling has a much more significant meaning than shopping at your local supermarket!
The first use of a word in the Book of Revelation establishes its meaning. Rev.3:18 says, "I counsel of thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich." This is not a buying of natural things with money, but divine nature exchanged for the carnal nature! To "buy the truth"means to pay the price to embrace the truth. The price of truth is often to be willing to give up or "sell" an error! "Selling" as a symbol, indicates the dealing out of truth, the ministering of the things of the Spirit. "Buying" typifies the acceptance of truth, the receiving of the things of God.
John Bunyon, the author of Pilgrim’s Progress, was jailed for many years for refusing to obtain a license to preach. He refused to take the "mark" or the "image" of the beastly systems of man, so he was not allowed to buy or sell (the Word of God). He was forbidden to deal out the truth and people were kept from buying from him.
Things haven’t changed any. Today, all who refuse to subscribe to the traditions, dogmas, and defilements of the religious system are accused of being heretics and are ostracized as truly as martyrs of past ages who refused to bow down to the bestial system of this world. I am sure that I would not be welcomed to speak at any denominational church, even though I have much truth to share. You see, I cannot "buy or sell" with them unless I take the mark and number and name of their denomination. Religion is big business and if I don’t bear their stamp, I can’t "do business" with them.
I am far more interested in the mark of God than in anything of the bestial system, since to bear His mark insures me against coming under the mark of the beast (Rev. 13:8). Jesus came to imprint or impress His character upon us.
Both the mark of God and the mark of the beast are superimposed upon men. The Greek word translated "mark" in Rev.13:16 is from the same root from which we get our English word "character." In Heb. 1:3 this word is translated as "express image." "Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person." The express image of God is the manifestation of God as revealed through His and our character. The mark speaks of that handiwork and the inward thinking which brings forth an expression of character in line with the very source from which the mark comes. Either we will find ourselves expressing the character of God, or else the character of the beast. It does not speak of a visible tattoo or brand, nor any outward form, but it refers to that inner quality of His character which is being developed in us, which shall be revealed in due time.
The whole book of Revelation is written in signs and symbols which represent spiritual realities. To claim that those symbols are reality is to do despite to the truths of God and to bring God’s people into a fear that takes their eyes off the Lord and puts them upon "self-preservation." It takes their minds off pressing into Him and keeps them looking anxiously toward various events that arise, wondering if these developments predict some future time when a fearful "beast" or "antichrist" will demand that they they take a mark, without which they cannot buy or sell. Their doom, they think, will be sealed and they may be required to give their life in martyrdom as the price for remaining true to God.
The key to Rev. 13 ( that speaks of the mark of the beast) is to be found in verse nine: "If any man have an ear to hear, let him hear." These words always accompany statements of profound spiritual significance. John is here telling us that the astonishing visions described there are the unfolding of deep spiritual mysteries. Those who write sensational books about the coming world government, with its superman dictator, and lasered numbers on the forehead and hand, do so because of their letter-of-the-word mentality. They do not have "ears to hear", or to perceive the spiritual in the external.
If the beast and his mark are to be fulfilled literally, then we must read the words with natural eyes, and understand them with a natural mind. But if the message is deeply spiritual, it will be understood only by "He that hath an ear to hear!"
How is the Inkhorn Ministry–the writers of the kingdom-- writing this mark upon His people? I would say by exhorting them to walk in the Spirit and to put on the mind of Christ. This, I declare, is the seal of God! Is it not strange that we hear no such good news in Babylon? We hear no one there speak of the mark of God! Yet, the mark of the beast is upon every man’s lips! I would definitely call it a "decoy" that takes the eyes of God’s people off the true mark!
Preston Eby, with his anointed inkhorn, says: "Revelation, Chapters 13 and 14 belong to each other and should be read together. The neglect of this principle has caused much mischief in modern times If present-day writers and preachers had set the mark of the beast of chapter 13 against the mark of the Father’s Name on the foreheads of the saints described in chapter 14,we would have had fewer frightful and ghastly events so confidently foretold in books readily devoured by precious Christians highly susceptible to prophetic sensationalism.
"It must be obvious to every spiritual mind that the writing of the Father’s name on those standing on mount Zion is a spiritual work. Zion represents the very highest position attainable in the kingdom of God. From the literal mount Zion, David and the kings of Israel reigned gloriously and the Ark of God rested there all through the reign of David. But that Zion was only a faint shadow of the Zion to which we are come (Heb.12:18-22). David was king over natural Israel. Christ is King over spiritual Israel. David dwelt on the natural mount Zion. Therefore Christ dwells upon the spiritual mount Zion. And this spiritual mount Zion is composed of those who reach the very highest pinnacle attainable in the Kingdom of God: those who, like David, are "a man after Mine own heart which shall fulfill all My will" (Acts 13:22). These are the kings and priests unto God, after the order of Melchisedek, those who have gone all the way with their Lord and shall now rule with Christ upon his throne.
"These are they of whom it is written, ‘And I looked, and lo, a Lamb stood on mount Zion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads," in distinction to those who, in Rev. 13:16 take "the mark of the beast." The mark of the beast denotes that those who bear it have been filled with the nature, spirit, ways, doctrines and idolatry of the bestial system. Therefore the mark which these 144,000 bear denotes that they are not defiled with the bestial spirit and shame and are in every respect cleansed, perfected, and made partakers of the Father’s nature. I have not ability to believe that the Father’s name in the forehead is anything more or less than the mind of Christ.
"Another wonderful picture of the working of God in His elect is found in Rev.7:1-4. "After these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads."
"Though we have read many explanations of the mark of the beast, it is my conviction that it would be safe to lay them all aside in the understanding that the mark of the beast is nothing more or less than the mind of the serpent in man. The number of man is the number of the beast, even 666 which is number of his name = flesh! It is man exalting himself as God! Six has always been the number of man’s labor apart from God’s rest. The carnal mind, which is everywhere evident in the religious systems, as in government, commerce and every other institution spawned by man, is the enemy of God and had its beginning with the serpent in Eden. Neither the divine mark nor the devil’s mark can be a visible thing. Both are symbols bespeaking a nature possessing the mind and in turn manifesting through the outward actions of men (the hand)."
WHOSE WILL IS SOVEREIGN?
Many Christians claim to believe in salvation by grace, yet they insist that man has the power ‘to make a decision for Christ.’ They argue that ‘God loves everyone, equally and alike," yet they are sure that He is going to send some people to hell for ever. They agree that the Bible teaches that the creator is omnipotent, but they are confident that man can obstruct the will of God by using his own "free will" to accept Christ or not to accept Him. (It seems the Lord didn’t give Paul much choice in the matter when he knocked him off his horse!) If that is the case, then man’s will is sovereign, and God is held subject to the will of His own creation. How can that be?
Christians have been taught that the sinner must decide and this decision will affect his future destiny to all eternity. The Bible plainly teaches that fallen man is blinded to the truth. He cannot receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him, neither can he know them because they are spiritually discerned and the soulical man has not the Spirit. Rom. 9:16 says, "It is not of him that willeth or of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy."
It is a cruel lie to say that the unregenerated man is a "free moral agent." Rather, he is a slave. "We know that the Law is spiritual: but I am a creature of the flesh (carnal), having been sold into slavery under the control of sin" (Rom. 7:14 Amplified). Adam sold us out. Adam gave us no choice in bringing us under the workings of iniquity. He didn’t consult with any one of us as to our desire concerning anything he did. None of us had any power or choice in the condition in which we entered this world. We were not sinners by choice, as we have been taught. We are "born in sin, and shapened in iniquity", with the carnal nature in us from our birth. Any parent knows that he has to teach a child to be good; but to be bad comes naturally!
Eph. 2:3 says we "were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." We were sinners by nature! We were born into this condition. Man has a total inability to deliver himself from bondage to sin, because his human spirit is dead from birth. Total depravity means that man in his natural state is incapable of doing anything or desiring anything pleasing to God. Until our spirit is quickened by His Spirit, we are slaves of the flesh and the devil and are enemies to God
Some kingdom teachers are teaching that man still has a "spark" of divine good (God) resident in his heart, and that every man has the life of Christ within him in seed form. What is sometimes mistaken for the spirit of Christ is that natural "goodness" that man has from the "Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil." I have known some people whose lives would put a Christian’s to shame, yet they know nothing at all of the things of the Lord. If it were the case that this seed would come forth in due time, then why did Christ need to bleed and die for us? It seems, to my mind, to nullify the cross of Christ, by which He said He would draw all men unto Himself. The Bible says, "The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked. Who can know it?" Jer. 17:9. This is the true state of the natural man even though we don’t like to consider it.
The natural man is completely incapable of discerning Truth. "The natural man receives not the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him. Neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned" I Cor. 2:14. A dead spirit perceives only the things of man and Satan. Until the spirit is made alive in man, he can perceive only the things of man and Satan. He cannot see the kingdom of God! Man is not saved by an act of his own free will. He is saved by grace, the divine enablement of God who first gives him Life and then imparts faith in his heart as a free gift. "For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God. It is not of works, lest any man should boast" Eph. 2:8-9.
Saving faith is the gift of God, not an exercise of man’s free will! We are saved by a faith which "is not of ourselves." We believed by the faith which God gives, and not by our own free will. Before a man is quickened by the Holy Spirit, God says of him, "Why do ye not understand My speech? Even because ye cannot hear My word! Ye are of your father the devil" Jn. 8:43-44. But once God quickens us by the Gift of Life and the Gift of Faith, the word is: "It is God who works in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure" Phil. 2;13.
Jesus says, "No man can come to Me, except the father which hath sent Me draw (or drag) him" John 6:44. Still, Christendom insists on a doctrine of man being "a free moral agent" even though the Word says the exact opposite. It tells us that "The creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope" Rom. 8:20.
I can personally attest that what the Bible says in this regard is true. In my own life, the Lord drew me strongly for the space of two years. I was the product of a lukewarm church which preached only a social gospel, but when the Spirit started to draw me, I became so hungry that I looked everywhere for Him. I read the Book of Mormon, the literature of the Jehovah Witnesses, and others, but saw Him only as an impersonal force. I yearned to know if He were a personal Father with whom I could have a loving relationship.
Finally, at the age of 26, He drew me to the foot of the cross and I found Him there. My heart came into peace as His life entered me and changed me into one who was able to have a personal relationship with her Creator and Lord. I confess freely that it was nothing of my own volition–He drew; He gave life and faith to believe in Him. It was a power beyond myself that made me a new creation, one who was alive from the dead! He wooed me and won me, and I have been running after him ever since, for He is altogether lovely!
We see that mankind was made blind and couldn’t see his way back to God, even though, as Paul said to the Athenians, "Surely God is not far from any one of us." How thankful we are that He sent one Man into this world who did know the way back to the Father! Jer. 10:23 tells us "...the way of man is not in himself; it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps." And Rom. 5:18-19 is so reassuring: "Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience (the) many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall (the) many be made righteous."
The saints would understand that God’s will is sovereign if they could see that if the first Adam could do something which the last Adam could not undo, then the first Adam had more power than the last Adam. If Adam could put the whole world into sin and death and the Christ could take only five per cent out, then Adam would have greater power than our Lord (unto whom all power has been given!)
Just prior to His crucifixion, Jesus said, "Now is the judgment of this world." The word "judgment" means a decision. He was saying that now is the decision of this world–when the world is going to decide what it is going to do with the Christ. The people of Israel, the Gentiles, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and his Anointed. They refused to have "this man" rule over them. It is quite clear that the world was not capable of turning to God, or of making a decision for itself that would cause it to return to God. Its ears were stopped, its eyes were blinded and understanding had been taken from its heart. All were dead in trespasses and sins, without God and without hope. Then, Jesus said, "Now shall the prince of this world be cast out" Jn. 12:31. The world had come to the crossroads and must make a decision, which it was not capable of doing. So Jesus said that the prince of this world would be cast out and that He, the last Adam, the representative of the whole human race, would decide for the whole human race, just as the first Adam, the first representative man, decided for us all. If the first Adam, as a representative man, was able to decide for all the world and put us all into sin and death, then the last Adam, the Christ of God, as the representative man, could decide to take all of us out of sin!
Paul said,"For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son..." Rom. 5:10. Paul argues that the death of Jesus reconciled us, the enemies of God, unto God. An enemy might refuse to be reconciled. Nevertheless, God sent His Son, and by the dying of that Son, reconciled T-H-E W-O-R-L-D unto Himself (II Cor. 5:19). God did not consult the world; did not ask the world whether it wanted to be reconciled. He just went ahead and did it! God knew from the beginning that we would not be capable of deciding for ourselves. We would be so bound by the fetters of sin, by pride and ignorance, our reasoning so warped by the god of this world, that we could not decide.
So God decreed that He would seal up all humanity in unbelief, blind their eyes that they could not see, and take understanding from their hearts that they could not understand. He would send his own Son as a representative man to make the decision for us, to lead us all back to Himself, since we were not able to direct our path or order our way. He concluded us all in unbelief and then let Jesus decide for us.
Many Christians declare that these words are simply too good to be true. Paul states, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation" II Cor. 5:19. They cannot acknowledge the truth that the destiny of the whole race was settled in one man, even Jesus. He was both the sacrifice and the new head of the race who would gather us all up into His loving arms and bring us back to God, He would lead all into salvation. How we should rejoice that God did not permit the world to decide the eternal question, but that He sent His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, to do it for us.
No, man is not a free moral agent, nor is his will stronger than God’s. God has definitely overruled the will of man. Jesus Christ is the only man who is a free moral agent. His will is sovereign. He made the right choice, the one and only right decision. And He made it for us all! We see that God is both willing and able to save all.
Because the Christ was "lifted up" on the cross of Calvary, dying on behalf of every man of Adam’s race, the promise is sure, that He will draw all men unto Himself! This is His good will! This is His good pleasure!
THE END OF THE WORLD
Oh, what fear-mongering there has been about the end of the world! Both Christian and unbeliever alike have predicted the end of the world ever since it began! Yes, there was an "end of the world" in Noah’s time, but it was not the end of planet earth. II Peter tells us, "Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished." Yet, we still live on the same globe, which is "reserved unto fire." And we need to know what that means so that we may walk before the Lord in peace and acknowledge that "He doeth all things well."
The judgment upon the earth in Noah’s day was simply the end of an evil order. The Lord cleansed the earth to bring in a righteous order through a faithful seed who would hearken to His voice and obey it. When the Ark settled down upon Mt. Ararat ("the curse is reversed"), it figures our sinful nature being judged and shows us being brought into a new world "wherein dwelleth righteousness." It refers to regeneration–the new birth.
The flood waters washed away all the evil and the same waters preserved the righteous. It is believed that in our day, the world will be burnt up and destroyed by fire–literally. If we look at the example of Noah, we see that God did an outward work of cleansing the earth, yet the earth remained. In our day, I believe it shall be an inward work of fire, for since Jesus came, His dealings have been wrought inwardly, in the soul of man. And, when God said He would send judgment, he said He would begin at His own House–at His own Family.
We have seen this happen for a number of years now, that judgment has begun at His House. His children, who desire more of Him, have experienced the burning up of the dross in their lives, the things of self that are opposed to His nature. Yes, the fires have burned hot, but it has been good, for His children are looking more like Jesus every day. "...for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness" Isa. 26:9. That is God’s way. He is not out to destroy His people–He is out to cleanse them so that they might be partakers of the fullness of the divine nature!
Jim Alspaugh shared recently;, "Everyone has been looking for a rapture and a taking-out without realizing that instead of a rapture there will be a transfiguration, a coming-in of Jesus. This old world is going to be renewed and put under Jesus’ feet."
Each of the patriarchs in Genesis represents some stage in our spiritual walk. From Abraham, the man of faith, we progress to Isaac, the spirit of sonship. At that stage, we have the joy and privilege of dwelling at the Well Lahairoi: The Well of the life of Vision. That means that we are now able to see the plan and purpose of God.
When we can see that, we no longer think in terms of "the end of the world." We understand that God is not going to destroy this planet or its people because of their wickedness (He promised not to do so!) but, as in Israel’s deliverance from Egypt, He is going to bring in a new order of things; a new ruling order, a new way of life. The former order shall pass away because it has served its purpose and is no longer needed.
At the "Well of the Life of Vision" we are not waiting for Jesus to break through the clouds to come and save us. Neither are we looking to break through the clouds going up–because we are afraid of what might happen on the earth. Jesus has already come by His Spirit, as he said He would, and He has no intention of taking us out of the world. We are the salt of the earth and he intends to use us here to show mankind what He is like so that they would desire to be like Him.
The translators used this word "world" when it is actually the word "age." Yes, one age of God’s dealings passes away and is replaced by something higher as we come into an increased knowledge of Him. It was necessary for mankind to experience the Age of the Law–to understand what sin is and what the nature of our God is and to realize that we are unable to be ‘like Him’ and are unable to keep His righteous laws in our own strength. The Law prepared our hearts to realize our need of a Saviour to redeem us from the bondage of this flesh by a birth from above. "For the law was our schoolmaster to bring us to Christ."
Andrew Jukes says, "God alone of all teachers has had two methods, and must have them, namely, law and gospel. These appear opposed, for law condemns while the gospel justifies, each to meet one part of our need and of the devil’s double lie. For man is yet held by both parts of this old lie, that God grudges and is untrue, and that man by self-will may be as God. Man needs not only to have God’s life quickened again in him, whereby he may be prepared to live in God’s world, but no less to have the life of hell and of this world slain in him, by which he may be delivered out of that power of darkness and of this present world, which holds him captive, that so he may come back again to God’s kingdom.
"To meet the first, we have the promise or gospel, long before the law, though only fulfilled after law has done its work; to meet the second, we have the law which condemns, and proves that man is not as God, but a fallen, ruined creature.
"By the one, God’s life is quickened in man; by the other, through present or future judgment, the hellish and earthly life is slain and overcome. Does not God love? The gospel is the answer. Is man as God? The law settles this. Christ’s cross is the seal of both, revealing that God is love, for He gives His Son for rebels; and that man is not as God, but a sinner under death and judgment.
"While the law condemns and shows what man is, this "ministry of condemnation," needful in its place, is not and cannot be God’s end. The gospel, the "ministration of righteousness and life" is God’s proper work, and therefore "remaineth" while the law is to be abolished and "done away."
"The epistles of St. Paul will prove that the ‘ages’ are periods in which God is gradually working out a purpose of grace, which was ordained in Christ before the fall, and before those ‘age-times,’ in and through which the fall is being remedied. So we read, that ‘God’s wisdom was ordained before the ages out of the very fall to bring greater glory both to Himself and to His fallen creature; then we are told distinctly of "the purpose of the ages," showing that the work of renewal would only be accomplished through successive ages.
"The ‘ages’ are the fulfilment or substance of the ‘times and seasons’ of the Sabbatic year and Jubilee under the old law. The law in all its ‘times’ was a figure of the gospel ‘ages.’ The prophets also show us how God’s purpose is in a later age to visit those who are rejected in an earlier one.(See Deut. 23:3,6; Jer. 48:47)
"The ages are periods in which God works, because there is evil and His rest is broken by it, but which have an end and pass away, when the work appointed to be done n them has been accomplished." Unquote.
By the eyes of the Spirit we see that the Lord is finished with His dealing in the in-part Pentecostal realm so the Church Age is passing away. It is time for the new age of the kingdom when the fullness of the Spirit shall come to those in whom the fires have done their work.
Far greater than the hope of Jesus coming and ruling from a literal throne in Jerusalem is the truth that we have learned by "The Well of the Life of Vision." As we abide by this well of living water, we understand that "we are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" Eph. 2:21.
We see also, that we are to "grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ." Christ, by His Spirit, has come unto His Own and purposes to rule and reign from their hearts’ throne which has been yielded to Him through the fires that they have endured. These have come to "the end of their world" of doing their own thing, ruling over their own affairs, in a word, self-effort. And, they are coming into a new world where the Lord is ruling and reigning within them and they love to have it so! They are putting on the mind of Christ and letting the Spirit of God come into rest within them. When Jesus was upon the earth He told His disciples that, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head’ Mat. 8:20. In His present coming He is finding a people who are willing for Him to put His mind in them as they as they relinquish their own will and way. He is coming to that people to show Himself unto His creation. Their own world of Pentecost has ended and they have entered the world of Tabernacles where the Lord enters into His rest in them and rules from His throne in them!
When we understand that God’s purpose is still to make man in His image and likeness–to work in him His nature, then we know and have confidence that earth and mankind shall remain until His will for them is done. We need not fear, for God is still working His redemptive (not destructive) plan. He has come to inhabit a people in fullness, to have a Body grow up into the Head and to show forth His nature in the earth.
Do not fear this fear about ‘the end of the world.’ Know that God will work until he has brought all His creation back into a right relationship with Him. We can know this by what is happening in the lives of His firstfruits who have first partaken of His judgments and found them sweet in their earth.
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We acknowledge input from the writings of…
J. Preston Eby,
P.O. Box 371240,
El Paso, TX 79939-1240,
U. S. A.
We also acknowledge help from Stephen Jones and Kelly Varner.
Also, we acknowledge, with thanks, the cover artistry provided by our friend, Ray Knight.
Permission is granted to copy this booklet or ask for more. It may not be sold.
BILL AND ELAINE COOK
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