Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A New Name

The prophet said God would call His people by a new name which the mouth of the Lord would name.

In the Book of Revelation, John told the churches that he who would overcome would be given a stone with a name written on it which no-one knows except the person to whom it is given.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

How Jesus Rules the Nations

The prophet said the Messiah would rule the nations with a rod of iron.

It speaks of judgement.

I don't think He's interested in reigning in continual punishment over the nations for a thousand years.

Jesus does reign now. In the hearts of individuals. In the affairs of nations. By principle. And ultimately at the final judgement.

To delay judgement, is one way of reigning now.

When He comes, He shall root out of His kingdom all who offend.

This is His kingdom in a sense, even though He's allowed the offenders to remain at this time. He's allowing them to remain to give them a chance to repent.

But ultimately He'll judge all who offend out of every nation and only the born-again shall enter His kingdom.

Monday, 28 July 2014

The Days of the Son of Man

The prophet prophesied that Israel would dwell in safety during the days when the righteous branch who would arise and rule the nations was with them.

The righteous branch was indeed raised up - Jesus - in the line of David.

It's a bit unrealistic to describe the second coming of Christ merely in terms of a branch rising.

But the showing of Jesus Christ to the nation of Israel by His ministry in the days of His flesh sounds more fitting with the description of a branch rising.

During the days of the son of man, Israel was indeed enjoying relative rest. But they soon lost it again, as a nation, by-and-large. Meanwhile Jesus' destiny to rule both Israel and the nations continued in tact - inwardly in the Church, and openly at His coming.

He rules as judge of both the living and the dead; both the righteous and the unrighteous.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

"Forever" in Old Testament Hebrew

An explanation concerning the Hebrew word often but not always translated "forever" in the Bible:

Relevant because it supports the temporary nature of the Old Covenant.

God and Jews

"If the casting away of the Jews was the salvation of the Gentiles, what shall the receiving of them be but life from the dead."

It meant that the salvation of the Gentiles happened despite the casting away of the Jews, not because of the casting away of the Jews. And the receiving of a Jew into salvation (through his repentance and faith) is tantamount to life from the dead - for him - for the Jew who gets saved.

The statement wasn't a forecast of nationwide salvation in Israel resulting in increased benefits worldwide in the last days. It was an explanation of a present reality in Paul's own day, and an answer to the wrong concept that God was somehow finished with the business of saving Jewish individuals.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Abraham's Land Promise

God's promises to Abraham have been fulfilled. Every one of them. Completely.

For example, His promise that in his seed all families of the earth would be blessed, has been fulfilled. His seed was Christ, and people of all nations are experiencing salvation in Jesus.

What about His promise that He would give the land to his seed? It came to pass too. But afterwards they sinned beyond remedy, so God had to allow them to be carried away into captivity for a time. But He promised to restore them to their land and to Moses' ceremonies again - which He also did, during Old Covenant times.

Then He sent them their Messiah - but they again disbelieved, with the consequence that they were again routed from their land.

None of these troubles was a breach of the land-promise given to Abraham though. From the beginning the stated requirement was that Abraham's seed would have to obey God.

God never revoked His land-promise - but Israel's enjoyment of their promised-inheritance was dependant upon their obedience.

But even during those years when Israel was by-and-large not in their land, the land-promise had never actually been revoked by God. 

The prophecies about restoring them to their land and to Moses' Laws and ceremonies, were faithfully fulfilled during Old Covenant times.

Afterwards they again disbelieved, and they were again dispossessed of their land. But God never actually revoked their land-promise. 

The return of Jews to the land in modern times is not a direct fulfilment of all of the Old Testament prophecies about a regathering to their land - because those prophecies included a return to Mosaic worship, and were fulfilled while the Old Covenant was still in force.

According to the prophecies, the Messiah also was to come within the same timeframe or covenantal dispensation. And He did indeed come at a time when the prophecies of restoration had been fulfilled and were still a reality in Israel. 

God is no less interested in His promise to Abraham under the New Covenant than He was under the Old. The Gospel was God's best attempt at procuring lasting blessings for Israel. 

He doesn't have a third Testament down the road. Nothing more is needed in order to fulfil the Abrahamic covenant. What we are seeing in modern Israel is an outworking of the realities of already-fulfilled Bible-prophecy and covenants and their terms. What we are seeing in modern Israel is not the fulfilment of prophecies and covenants which had not yet been fulfilled.


The True Feast of Tabernacles

The Feast of Tabernacles was part of Moses' Law. The Feast didn't exist before the Law, and it can't exist after the Law. 

There was only one authorised way to keep it - and that was the way Moses wrote to keep it. 

It was a package. You couldn't just keep part of the Feast. It was all or nothing.

The Feast had to include a sacrifice at the altar. This wasn't optional.

It had to involve Levite priests, with a proven lineage to Levi. This wasn't optional either - and it's not possible anymore since the genealogies were lost. And even if a reliable written-genealogy is discovered, the Levitical Order of priesthood has already been superseded anyway. 

It had to be in Jerusalem. But Jesus said the hour has come when the true worshipers are no longer required to go to Jerusalem to worship. As soon as you see mention in a Bible-prophecy of a requirement to go to Jerusalem to worship, you therefore know the prophecy must have found fulfilment during Old Covenant times.

There was a curse for not keeping the Feast, and there was a curse for not keeping it the way Moses stipulated. But the New Covenant eliminated the curse of the Law, Paul taught. Especially after the second coming of Christ there will be no more curse. So as soon as you see mention of a curse in Prophecy, you know it refers to Old Covenant times. 

The kingdom of God is not eating and drinking (feasting) said Paul. Physical Feasting was a shadow. 

Seeing the Feast was a shadow - even if it's a shadow of things still to come - then the fulfilment of the shadow will not involve carrying-out the shadow again, rather the fulfilment will be the living experience of the real thing.

The substance of a shadow is not more shadow! It's not even a modified shadow. It's the substance! With no part shadow.

So if the Feast of Tabernacles was a shadow of God tabernacling with us in future, then the fulfilment of the shadow will not involve repeating the shadow (the Feast) but the fulfilment will be when God literally tabernacles/dwells with us.

The fulfilment won't involve reverting back to the Old Covenant requirement of trekking annually to a physical altar in a physical Temple in physical Jerusalem where Levites will be waiting to receive our blood sacrifice, on fear of being cursed if we don't go. That was the shadow.

Rather, the fulfilment of the shadow will be the real experience of God Himself literally dwelling with us and us with Him, thanks to the once-for all sacrifice of His Son, when His Son offered Himself for us as our High Priest in the eternal priestly order of Melchisedek, not the temporary Levitical order - dwelling together in the new, heavenly, real Jerusalem, with Him forever and ever as the bride of the Lamb. 

That's what we'll be enjoying - we won't be under an obligation, on threat of a curse, to take an annual trek to Jerusalem.

We'll have no fear of being cursed - the real curse will not be for those who don't carry-out the shadow (the feast), but it will be for those who during their life-time were wicked and did not believe in Christ and His promise of tabernacling with us eternally. And that curse shall be an eternal one.

But for us who overcome, sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

The Abrahamic Covenant - Fulfilled or Delayed?

When it comes to Bible-prophecy, I don't understand all that's meant to happen in the future, but I'm quite convinced about certain things which are already past.

As a rule of thumb, I am convinced that any prophecy which showed Old Covenant ceremonies being carried-out, MUST have been fulfilled at a time when the Old Covenant was STILL IN FORCE.

I am convinced of that because to return to Old Covenant practices after the New Covenant has already been made goes against the truth of the grace of God.

But with the exception of Revelation 20, all of today's popular teaching about Israel's future, and about the Millennium, is derived from those very same passages of Bible-prophecy.

That presents a problem to me. If those prophecies are about the future, then it paints a picture of all of us reverting back to Moses' Law in future.

It would also mean that all of the Messianic verses which occur within those prophecies were not about Messiah's first coming but are all about His second coming. That would mean we lose our Scriptural proof for asserting that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled those verses, and therefore lose our authority for believing He is the Saviour.

But if we understand those prophecies as fulfilled, then we can assert that Jesus must have been the Messiah, because He came in the same historical context that was required by the prophecy.

Understanding it this way shows that God's promises to Israel weren't revoked, they didn't fail nor were they postponed.

Someone objected:

"Thing is when the deliverer comes from Zion he will take away their sins. Is Israel saved today? Obviously not."

My answer:

I think it was a prophecy about the Saviour from sin being born within Zion, referring to Jesus and the Gospel.

If we make it instead about the second coming, then we lose our case for asserting that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled prophecy and was the Messiah.

Also, if we make it about the second coming, we would be saying that modern Jews can and will be saved AFTER they see the return of the Lord. But that goes against Gospel truth taught by Jesus in His parables that it will be TOO LATE to repent once the Lord comes.


"Paul continues-"As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”

My answer:

In its source text in the Old Testament, this verse was a prophecy about the New Covenant.

In Romans 11 Paul was answering the mistaken idea that the Gospel meant God's promises to the Jews had failed, or that God was not so much interested in saving Jews anymore at all.

Paul answered this by explaining that God was still saving Jews - Paul himself was an example - God was still interested in saving Jews - just as He'd promised in the quoted Old Testament passage - but it was just that some of the Jews had become stubborn.

Paul explained that this is the way it would be, and at the same time Gentiles shall be getting saved, and then the end shall come, as Jesus said.

"All Israel" meant that the promise of salvation included the northern tribes and not just Judah. It meant the promise was offered to all. It didn't mean that every Jewish individual would accept the promised-salvation.

(It's like the verse which says Jesus is the "Saviour of all men, especially of those who believe." It means the salvation is promised and offered and procured and available for all - not that all would accept it and experience it. Same with Israel.)

Otherwise we're portraying a picture of a utopian Israel in the last days at or before the second coming. But that's not the picture of the last days which Jesus, or Daniel or the Apostles portrayed. Quite the opposite. They spoke of trouble, persecution even from the Jews, in synagogues, rampant deception in Israel - and immediately after those troubled times, the Son of Man will come.

The only other alternative, in a futurist model, is to say Israel gets saved AFTER the second coming, which as I said is not something Jesus or the Apostles allowed, because salvation is by faith, and faith that is seen is no longer faith. 


> "As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11:25-29 NIV)".


Agreed. Paul stated this in order to make his point that God's promised salvation hadn't failed, and that God was still saving Jews, such as himself.

Many thousands of Jews came to Christ in the early Church. It was amazing! Still, many of the nation's leaders, and many individuals, disbelieved.


> "Gods promises to the patriarchs have not been revoked they have future fulfilment. They are his elect."


I agree with the first part - Paul taught that the promises hadn't been revoked, like some at Rome had mistakenly assumed. But I don't think he taught that the promises awaited a future fulfilment. Tge promises had not been postponed either. Rather, he explained that some Jews were simply missing out due to unbelief, while others were entering in to what had been promised, like himself and many others.

Jesus said, "Abraham saw my day, and rejoiced". Jesus said God's promise to Abraham was about Jesus - His first coming.

Paul also said that when God gave promises to Abraham, God was preaching the Gospel to Abraham. So the promises to the Patriarchs were fulfilled by the Gospel, not by some future scheme.


> "Yes today the New Covenant is all inclusive of both Jew and gentile creating one new man in Christ. But there are clear distinctions between the Church and Israel. If God does not fulfil his promises to Israel then God is a liar. But he is NOT a liar and he will honor his covenant with Abraham Isaac and Jacob and Israel will be present during the millennium. Jesus said to his disciples that they will judge the 12 tribes of Israel:And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29, 30 NIV)This is fact! Do you see the 12 judging(govern, ruling) the 12 tribes? No. It has future fulfilment in the messianic kingdom."


Agreed - God wasn't a liar - because the promises were fulfilled in Jesus - and Jews such as Paul and a multitude of others were being saved. That's what Paul was explaining, lest the Romans become conceited.

He was explaining a present reality - not predicting a future scheme beyond the Gospel.

As for sitting on thrones and judging the twelve tribes - I suppose that will happen on judgment day.

Paul told the Corinthians that they will judge angels too.

Jesus told the Apostles to preach in all nations for a testimony against them. On judgment day, the fact that we had preached to people, will be an exhibit in evidence against them on that day.

I don't think it means we will continually be judging people daily for a thousand years. If Satan and all demons are bound during a future Millennium, there shouldn't be a need for continual court-cases during that time! It should be peace.

Also, it is no longer known what tribe Jews come from, mostly.

So I think it likely refers to the day of judgment.

God will indeed restore the kingdom to Israel - when He comes - but only the born-again Jews will see it - and Gentiles will also be in it - forever.

Jesus indeed conferred a kingdom on the Apostles - but during this life we only taste it - but when He comes, the wicked will be removed and only the saved will see it - Jew or Gentile.

Do you think God will expect Jews to start keeping Moses' Law again? the whole world to start keeping Moses' Law again during the Millennium? And curse the nations that don't keep the feast of tabernacles annually?  That goes against Paul's teaching about grace.

Those prophecies were given while Israel was going into captivity, and were fulfilled some years afterwards when God restored them to their land and they resumed following Moses' ceremonies. It's not about our future - it's not about a future Millennium.

God's highest plan for Jews is the Gospel.

They are beloved for the fathers' sakes.

He still wishes for them to be secure in their land.

We owe them a debt of gratitude.

But God isn't planning to put them back under the Law.

He doesn't have another scheme to save them after the second coming.

His promises were not revoked, they didn't fail, and they weren't postponed.

It was fulfilled in Jesus and the Gospel.

Believers will be saved, and then the end shall come.


> "Time to wake up and get biblical."


It's not that any of us are not trying to be Biblical. Most of us are trying to be, no matter what our current understanding is. 

Romans 11:25-27

 I think it probably meant that the manner in which the salvation which had been promised long ago to all Israel was being fulfilled, was such that only believing Jews were experiencing it, and Gentiles who believed were also experiencing it.

That the 
promise would be fulfilled in that manner had been a mystery - until the mystery was revealed through the Gospel.

Paul was explaining a scheme which was was already a functioning reality even in the first century. He was answering the objection that his Gospel (the message of salvation by grace through faith) implied that God's promises to all Israel had somehow failed. But rather than having failed, Paul explained, the promise offered to all Israel was even then being fulfilled in them that believe - both Jew and Gentile.

(For the use of "all" in this manner, consider: "He is the saviour of all men, specially of them that believe"; "I will draw all men unto me"; "There is no other Name given under heaven whereby men must be saved"; and "Many are called but few are chosen".)

Monday, 21 July 2014

Gospel Truth

It's interesting to see the way the Apostles interpreted prophecy. They almost always explained the manner in which the prophecies were fulfilled through the Gospel without expecting some second fulfilment of it far in their future.

I can't think of a precedent in the Bible for the double-fulfilment hermeneutic.

"A virgin shall conceive" is the usual example given. But that prophecy has only ever had one historical fulfilment - unless we say "virgin" merely meant "young woman" - but that then that has the effect of removing the prophetic basis for asserting Jesus' unique birth and divinity.

"They pierced my hands and my feet" is another popular example - but that never literally happened to David. But "being a prophet," explained Peter, "he [David] spoke NOT about himself, but he foresaw the sufferings of Christ". So the Psalm didn't refer first to David and secondly to Christ - rather it referred NOT to David but to Christ, explained Peter. Only one not two historical fulfilment.

If we allow a second historical fulfilment of a prophesied event, without referencing an Apostle interpreting the prophecy that way, then what's to stop us claiming a third and fourth fulfilment? We would never really be able to say with any authority and finality whether or not a prophecy has been fulfilled.

I think there's a difference between fulfilment and application. A prophesied event might have a single FULFILMENT - yet we can APPLY lessons learned from it in multiple situations.

As a rule of thumb, I think any prophecy which mentions Old Covenant disctinctives (such as the Temple, altar, Levites, sacrifices, offerings, pots, seething, and Jerusalem being the required place of worship - that part of the prophecy must have found its fulfilment WHILE THE OLD COVENANT STILL STOOD.

Ezekiel 36

Ezekiel 36:22-25 must have been fulfilled during Old Covenant times, I think, because the issue that God was said to be cleansing Israel from was idolatry (verses 18, 25). Idolatry was the cause of Israel's captivity - and the captivity cleansed them of it, just as God said. But idolatry is virtually non-existent amongst the modern Diaspora. And those doing Aliyah have not needed to be cleansed of it.

Also verse 26 goes on to prophesy the new birth. The new birth was the next step in Israel's cleansing which God would offer the nation AFTER regathering them to their land and cleansing them from idolatry through the captivity. Ezekiel 36:22-25 therefore preceded the new birth.

So the order of events was: 

> idolatry 
> captivity 
> regathering, and cleansing from idolatry, and restored Old Covenant Levitical practise in a rebuilt Temple 
> the coming of Messiah and the new birth, while those things had been fulfilled and were still a reality in Israel. (Soon afterwards they forever ceased to be a reality in Israel - in AD70).

If we make Ezekiel 36:22-25 to instead be about the future, then the Scriptures which follow (in verse 26, about the new birth) are no longer about the new birth (like Paul said they were even in the first century AD). Instead we make them to be about a future revived interest in Judaism.

Making it about the future is also confusing because it means that while on the one hand we are expecting a nationwide revival of Judaism in Israel, on the other hand we are also expecting great troubles ahead for Israel, because Jesus portrayed a picture of trouble and persecution in Israel immediately before His return, not a picture of utopian peace and godliness. And we can't say the Jews will all turn to Christ AFTER the second coming, because it will be too late then, as Jesus explained in His parables.

So I think what we are seeing in modern Jewish history is not the direct fulfilment of prophecies like Ezekiel 36. Rather, what we are seeing is I think the aftermath of the fact that such prophecies were already fulfilled in Israel long ago.

That's the Gospel truth which explains Jewish affairs since Ad70 until the present - it's the truth which Israel needs to confront. It's the Apostles' doctrine. It's the way they interpreted the Prophets. That's how it seems to me when reading the prophets and the apostles.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Israel and Messianic Prophecy

According to the context of the Messianic prophecies in the Bible, the Messiah was to come at a time when the prophecies about Israel being regathered from captivity to their land and to God, bringing sacrifices to the altar in a rebuilt Temple on Mt Zion, in a rebuilt city with rebuilt walls, with a Levitical priesthood functioning under the Old Covenant, and people out of many nations joining  them annually for the Feasts, had come to pass and were still a reality in Israel.

The Messiah indeed came at a time when all the details of those prophecies about Israel had come to pass and were still a reality in Israel, just as required by the prophecies.

Soon afterwards, with the destruction of the Temple (in AD70) and the end of the Old Covenant and its practices, those things forever ceased to be a reality in Israel.

So the Messiah had to have come before then, or else the Messianic prophecies forever lost their opportunity to be fulfilled.  He did come before then, and His Name is Jesus of Nazareth.

But if we instead make those prophecies about Israel and the nations about the future instead of seeing them as already fulfilled while the Old Covenant was still in force, then we in effect advocate a return in Israel to Old Covenant shadows and practices - and at the same time we do away with the proof-texts which establish our case that Jesus of Nazareth was and is the Messiah.

Jeremiah 31

Some thoughts about Jeremiah 31:10, "...he that scattered Israel will gather him..."; and about Ps.102:12-22; and about "call" vs. "whistle".

The prophecy in which Jeremiah 31:10 occurs appears to cover all of chapters 30 and 31.

The context both before and after the prophecy appears to be all to do with the Babylonian captivity. (29:1 and 32:2 both mention Babylon by name). It seems likely to me then that this prophecy (chapters 31 & 32) were also about the Babylonian captivity. Certainly Jeremiah's immediate audience would have thought that it was.

Then at the very start of this  prophecy, Israel and Judah's return from captivity is predicted (30:2). Both Israel's captivity, and then Judah's captivity, were mentioned. That distinction between Israel and Judah existed prior to their return from Babylonian captivity only, but never afterwards. So the return from captivity in question had to have been the return from the captivity of that time which was transpiring in Jeremiah's day at a time when the distinction between Israel and Judah still existed - not a future scattering and regathering which occurred after a time when the distinction had long before ceased to exist. That is, the return from scattering that was the subject of this prophecy was a return that occurred during Old Covenant times, not likely in modern times, so it seems to me.

Then it says that this return would be followed by, not precede, the coming of king Jesus (30:9). This was fulfilled in those who believed. The regathering in question therefore had to precede the Messiah, or else we lose our case for saying the Messiah has already come.

The word "chastisement" is in fact mentioned (30:14, 31:18).

All that devoured Jacob would themselves go into captivity (30:16). That came to pass, because the Assyrians were defeated, the Medes and the Persians defeated Babylon, then the Grecians defeated them, then Rome defeated them, then Rome fell...

It mentions "tents". In Olden times Israel still lived in tents, but in modern times they don't (30:18). If we start to allegorise it, where do we distinguish between allegory and literal? It would leave the prophecy open to private interpretations.

It mentions the nation turning to God with their hearts and being called God's people (30:21,22; 31:1). That was true after the return from Babylon, though they again returned to unbelief - but it wasn't true of modern Israel by-and-large in 1948 - and still isn't.

The main weapon mentioned was the sword (31:2). That was true of battles in Babylon's time, but it's not true of weapons of warfare in modern times.

The prophecy mentions Mt Zion (in Jerusalem) as the required place to go if they wished to approach God (31:6). That was distinct to Old Covenant times, but not now - because Jesus stated that Jerusalem is no longer the required place of worship (John 3).

Admittedly 31:8 mentions a return from a wide area. But the Babylonian captivity and the captivities Jeremiah was likely referring to at that time were indeed far wider than just the city of Babylon itself. The book of Esther mentions that King Ahasuerus’ kingdom covered 127 provinces from Ethiopia to India, and the Jews had been scattered throughout all of them (Esther 1:1, 9:2). It isn't only the 'modern' diaspora that was so wide-spread.

Mt Zion is again mentioned as the focus-point of worship (31:12-14). It even mentions the [Levite] priests eating until they're filled with their allotted portion of the sacrificed animals (verse 14).

The Gospel of Matthew quotes verse 16, and does not explain it as an event that was yet to happen in Matthew's future, but as something that was already a reality in Israel (Matt.2:17,18).

It again mentions nationwide repentance and turning to God and accepting instruction (31:18,19). That was true during the return under Zerubbabel, Ezra, Nehemiah and Zechariah - but it doesn't describe 1948.

All these troubles were described as the reproach of Jacob's youth (verse 19). The word "youth" seems to be to place it relatively early in the nation's history - not at the end of it just before the end of the world.

It mentions Mt Zion being holy - that is, used for divine purposes (verse 23). That came to pass in Old Covenant times, but  doesn't describe the modern use of the temple mount in Israel since 1948.

In the context of all of this, the new covenant was to follow (verses 31-34). Paul applied this not to our future, but to the Gospel - even in the first century. If the return from scattering is in our future, then the new covenant hasn't come yet, and we lose a case for defending the Gospel from the Prophets. But the fact that it was fulfilled gives us a case for convincing modern Jews that the promised new covenant also must have already come while the details of the prophecy were still a reality in Israel (details such as the priesthood functioning on Mt Zion).

It mentions that the ethnicity of Jews would never cease (35-37). And it didn't, despite what they were about to go through in Jeremiah's own time and immediately beyond.

In the context of this regathering, it mentions the tower of Hananeel and the gates of the walls of Jerusalem (38-40). Those details were relevant in Nehemiah's time, but not now.

Psalm 102:12-22 mentions the nations gathering for worship (in Jerusalem). That was appropriate under Old Covenant  times (and we see an example of its fulfilment in Acts 2 when people of many nations gathered for the Feast of Pentecost).

When the whole theme of Zechariah was about captive and backslidden Israel returning not just to the land but to God and to the Old Covenant, I think it's a bit hard to see these prophecies as fulfilled by modern Jews doing Aliyah based merely on the use of the word "whistle" (as opposed to "called") in Zechariah 10:8.

My feeling is that if we see these prophecies as fulfilled, then we have a case for saying the Messianic prophecies must also have been fulfilled, since the Messianic prophecies occur in the same context and were to come to pass while Israel was still functioning under the Old Covenant.

But if we see these prophecies as future, then we're actually saying Israel should resume the Old Covenant functions in future - and we also lose our case for saying Jesus was the Messiah.

What of modern Israel then? If God had a heart for Jews and their well-being in their land then - under the Old Covenant - how much more now -because the Gospel didn't  diminish God's love for the Jews - it's the apex of His love for them!

The Gospel fulfilled and summarised all the promises and prophecies.

To understand modern Israel with covenant-accuracy, we have to locate modern Israel accurately on the timeline of Old Testament prophecy.

If we locate and explain modern Israel incorrectly in terms of Old Testament prophecies, it dilutes the Gospel a bit, as distinct from the Old Covenant. It takes the focus away from Jesus and His way of salvation a bit, I feel.

If Jesus' prophecy on Mt Olivet is still to be fulfilled in future, it means Israel is being regathered to Israel only to be destroyed and scattered again - because Jesus mentioned the Jews being scattered. So it's kind of a schizophrenic end-times view where people are expecting a glorious rebuilt Temple and then the worst trouble for Jews at the same time!

A lot of famous preachers interpret current affairs in the Middle East by quoting the prophecy about Gog and Magog. But according to the Book of Revelation, don't Gog and Magog wage their battle AFTER the thousand years, not before? So either the thousand years is symbolic of the church-age, or else if it's future, then we shouldn't be concerned about Gog and Magog until after the Millennium. In other words, current affairs in Israel would have nothing to do with it.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Notes on Isaiah 1

1 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.

2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.

3 The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master's crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.

4 Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.

5 Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.

6 From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment.

7 Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.

8 And the daughter of Zion is left as a cottage in a vineyard, as a lodge in a garden of cucumbers, as a besieged city.

9 Except the Lord of hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom, and we should have been like unto Gomorrah.

10 Hear the word of the Lord, ye rulers of Sodom; give ear unto the law of our God, ye people of Gomorrah.

11 To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats.

12 When ye come to appear before me, who hath required this at your hand, to tread my courts?

13 Bring no more vain oblations; incense is an abomination unto me; the new moons and sabbaths, the calling of assemblies, I cannot away with; it is iniquity, even the solemn meeting.

14 Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them.

15 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood.

16 Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil;

17 Learn to do well; seek judgment, relieve the oppressed, judge the fatherless, plead for the widow.

18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

19 If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

20 But if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

21 How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

22 Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water:

23 Thy princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loveth gifts, and followeth after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither doth the cause of the widow come unto them.

24 Therefore saith the Lord, the Lord of hosts, the mighty One of Israel, Ah, I will ease me of mine adversaries, and avenge me of mine enemies:

25 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin:

26 And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellors as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

After undergoing the dealings of God, as in the Babylonian captivity

27 Zion shall be redeemed with judgment, and her converts with righteousness.

But she again returned to wickedness

28 And the destruction of the transgressors and of the sinners shall be together, and they that forsake the Lord shall be consumed.

29 For they shall be ashamed of the oaks which ye have desired, and ye shall be confounded for the gardens that ye have chosen.

30 For ye shall be as an oak whose leaf fadeth, and as a garden that hath no water.

31 And the strong shall be as tow, and the maker of it as a spark, and they shall both burn together, and none shall quench them.

It's Not About TULIP

Paul's statements in Romans about predestination were for this purpose:

Paul was defending God's sovereign justice in:

1. Having chosen the physical nation of Israel for a purpose, despite their failings

2. Offering salvation to all, on the basis of faith, without works

3. The nation of Israel missing out on salvation, if they didn't believe

It wasn't about TULIP! (

The Abrahamic Covenant

God's promise to Abraham didn't fail.

Nor has it been postponed.

Nor does it need some 'second fulfilment'.

It's been fulfilled, in full, exactly as written - through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That's Paul's revelation!

That's the Gospel.

The Apostles' doctrine.

God's promise to Abraham stated that in his (Abraham's) seed (singular, not 'seeds' plural - that is, in the Messiah) all families of the earth would be blessed. From the beginning the promised blessing was intended for all nations without ethnic distinction.

That was before the Law was ever given!

Before Jacob's name was changed to Israel. 

Before his twelve sons were formed into a nation.

Abraham believed the promise, and God credited his faith to him as righteousness, even before he was circumcised.

Circumcision, the Law, and the nation of Israel, were never the main subject of the promise. Not the means. Nor the sole object.

The subject was the seed, which is the Messiah. And the object was all families of the earth.

The Law was only a temporary insertion.

And the physical nation of Israel were the custodians of the promise, while they waited for the time of the promise to come.

When the time of the promise came, God sent forth His Son, born of a virgin in the line of Abraham.

All who believe in Him receive the promised blessing - first the Jews, and also the Gentiles.

At that point the purposes of circumcision and of the Law ceased, and any distinction between Jew and Gentile also ceased. All were on a level playing field - all under sin, either with or without the Law - and all who believe are made joint-heirs with Jesus Christ.

Abraham saw this era, and rejoiced, explained Jesus.

Thus the Gospel is the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant. In full. Precisely as intended.

That's good news!

This doesn't diminish God's goodwill towards the Jews and their land - rather it exalted God's promised goodwill towards them, and revealed the sole pathway to experiencing His goodwill - which is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. 

But only a remnant believed, which also is a scenario that was prophesied. 

The Apostles' Doctrine

While the Jews were still in captivity in Babylon, the Prophet Zechariah prophesied that God would restore them to their land, theTemple would be rebuilt, they would return to God, people would travel to Jerusalem annually out of many nations to observe the Feast of Tabernacles and offer sacrifices on the altar in the Temple - and Messiah would arrive on the scene - and be pierced (on the cross), and they would look upon Him - at such a time when the historical fulfilment of those things had come to pass and were still a functioning reality in Israel.

These Levitical things were fulfilled at the return of the Babylonian captivity - and they continued to be functioning realities in Israel up until the destruction of the Temple in AD70 when they ceased - and they can never happen again in exact accordance with Moses' requirements.

Therefore the Messiah must have come before AD70 - or else Zechariah's prophecies forever lost their opportunity to be fulfilled. He indeed came - and it happened to Him exactly as it was written - and His Name is Jesus of Nazareth.

But if we instead make these prophecies about the future, or assign some 'second' fulfilment for them, then we lose Zechariah's prophecies as proof-texts for Jesus being the Messiah, and we inadvertently authorise modern ultra-Orthodox Judaism as a quasi return to the now-superseded Old Covenant. It dilutes the Apostles' doctrine.

The Apostles instead understood the Old Testament promises and prophecies not as failed, not as postponed, not even as awaiting a 'double' fulfilment - but they understood and explained them as fulfilled, in full, as intended, through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It's a worthwhile exercise to take a look at the passages in the New Testament where the Apostles quote Old Testament verses, and see the manner in which the Apostles interpreted and applied the Old Testament verse. Then go back to their source text in the Old Testament and read the wider passage in the light of the way the Apostles interpreted and applied it. It will clarify your understanding, and very often you'll come up with a different outlook than what's popularly asserted today. 

New Testament Interpretation of Old Testament Prophecy

The Apostles didn't view the Old Testament promises and prophecies as failed, nor as postponed, nor did they lead us to expect any 'second' fulfilment - rather, they explained the promises and prophecies as fulfilled through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Notes on Revelation 12

12 And there appeared a great wonder in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars:
The Church - the Israel of God
And she being with child cried, travailing in birth, and pained to be delivered.
Bringing forth the Christ, and His Church, the saving-Gospel
And there appeared another wonder in heaven; 
Being another wonder, every detail does not necessarily occur subsequently to the previous wonder described above, but partly preceding, partly concurrently with it, and partly the outcome of it
...and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads.
The devil, manifesting through human polity
And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon stood before the woman which was ready to be delivered, for to devour her child as soon as it was born.
Since his fall from heaven to the earth, and the fall of a number of angels with him, Lucifer set about to thwart God's purpose
And she brought forth a man child, who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and to his throne.
The Messiah, of the seed of Abraham - promised for all nations - and His ascension to the Throne 
And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
The Church - Jew and Gentile - preserved in the soul though persecuted in this present life - for a time
And there was war in heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels,
And prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven.
And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Looking back to a past event - decreed since the beginning, and set in place and set in motion through the cross of Christ 
10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.
The victory of the cross made possible this Gospel dispensation
11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
The patience of the saints
12 Therefore rejoice, ye heavens, and ye that dwell in them. Woe to the inhabiters of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.
The Gospel time
13 And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.
The source of the Church's then-imminent persecutions was to be understood to be the devil
14 And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent.
The Church - the promise and purposes of God - the believers - though persecuted in body would be preserved in soul
15 And the serpent cast out of his mouth water as a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away of the flood.
16 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth.
God's purposes in the Church would outlast the present ordeal
17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
The devil's ongoing anger against the Israel of God - the Church

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Tithing in the First Century Church

If the early Church at Jerusalem tithed, it would have been to the Temple while it still stood, not to the  church. Tithing was a Jewish-Temple thing.

That's why the Gentile churches weren't asked by the Apostles to keep Moses' laws about tithes - because Gentiles weren't connected to the Temple.  

But the Apostle Paul did expect the Gentiles to carry-out the ethics which the Laws concerning giving illustrated.

That is, he wrote that it was their duty to physically support those who ministered spiritual things to them; and also to remember the genuinely poor.

In one place he instructed them to set-aside a weekly amount proportional to the amount God had prospered them.

He praised those who contibuted over and above dispite their deep poverty.

Aside from appealing to the ethics which the Law illustrated, Paul appealed also to Jesus' direct instructions regarding the support of preachers of the Gospel and regarding the poor.