Monday, 30 November 2015

Sabbath Rest

The OT sabbath was an appropriate response at that time, to the fact that God rested on the seventh day.

But the reality now at this time, links us to that fact in a different, better and permanent way.

God didn't rest every seventh day: He entered into permanent rest on the seventh day. Mankind fell from that rest. The Law of the sabbath was later given to make fallen men see that a state of rest was yet to be obtained.

Jesus gave us that rest. It restores us to participation in God's state of rest. For us it's a rest from the works of the Law. 

All Means All and That's All All Means?

All Israel shall be saved?

When the Prophet said, "I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh", it didn't literally mean every single human-being would be filled with the Spirit - God has given the Holy Ghost " them that obey Him".

And when the Apostle wrote that "the living the Saviour of all men...", it didn't mean everyone is saved - because he added, "...specially of those that believe".

So when the Bible said "all Israel shall be" saved, shall be justified, and shall glory, it likely didn't mean every last Jew would be saved - salvation is experienced by those who believe, even though salvation was procured for and offered to all Israel.

"...blindness in part is happened to Israel...

[In part, because many Jews did believe, and more were still being provoked to faith through the Gentiles]

...until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in...

[then comes the end]

...And so [in this manner] all Israel shall be saved".

[Likely meaning that in this manner the prophecies about Israel's salvation were seeing their fulfilment. An outcome which had been a mystery, but which Paul now wished his readers to not be ignorant of, lest they mistakenly think that Jewish individuals could no longer get saved].

That might help clear-up some ideas of what must happen in modern Israel, and how and when - and might put our focus back on the importance of sharing the GOSPEL.

"...there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved" but "the name of JESUS CHRIST..."

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Two Biblical Theologies

Some say the salvation and restoration of Israel shall occur following the Second Coming.

Others instead understand that Jesus already brought the salvation and restoration of Israel - spiritually, in those who believed - as a prerequisite for their entering it when it comes in consummation at the Second Coming - and that Gentiles were grafted-in to the same scheme.

These are two divergent ways of understanding Old Testament Prophecy, the mission of Jesus in relation to Old Testament Prophecy, the purpose and place of the Gospel and the Church in relation to Israel and in relation to Old Testament Prophecy - two divergent ways of understanding the means to salvation for two distinct groups and two distinct times.

So it's more than just having a different eschatology tagged on to the end of our theology.

What did Jesus say? What did the Apostles write? That's where you'll find the answer, because the Law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.

That doesn't mean Moses' Law was untrue - but it meant Jesus explained the full story.

Jesus Himself is truth. And the Apostles reflected what Jesus taught and did. Therefore the Four Gospels and the Epistles are the hinge on which the rest of Scripture (the Old Testament, and the Book of Revelation) must be understood.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Israel, the Gentiles, nationhood and the Gospel

The Gospel didn't lower God's interest in Israel as a nation.

The Gospel confirmed God's interest in Israel as a nation. The Gospel procured God's promise for the nation of Israel, and the Gospel was Israel's only way of securing the promise.

The Gospel reveals that God is equally interested in the nations of the Gentiles. The Gospel admitted Gentile nations into the same blessing of the same promise.

The Law of God (Moses' Law, or the law written on the heart) - put Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing - as sinners in need of salvation.

The Gospel also put Jews and Gentiles on an equal footing - as equal candidates for experiencing redemption by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Gospel elevated the nations of the Gentiles to precisely the same experience of blessing as the nation of the Jews, without devaluing any of the privileges available to the Jews first, through the Gospel.

So the degree to which any nation enjoys blessing today - including the modern State of Israel - has precisely the same causes and effects.

No nation - including the modern State of Israel - enjoys any privileges above another, nor suffers any exclusions - from anything. And that's how it will always be.

This certainly elevates God's interest in the nations of the Gentiles - but it certainly doesn't diminish God's interest in the modern nation of Israel either.

Only the sky is the limit for the modern State of Israel - but no other nation has any lower limit - because the Gospel is God's highest plan for all nations.

God answers prayer for nations - any nation.

God treats all nations the same way He treats families. Just as the family exists by Divine decree, the causes and effects of blessing are the same for all families; and just as you can pray for families, and see many results, still regardless of what family someone belongs to and regardless of what prayers are prayed for him or his family, the only way a person can be saved is by grace through His own faith in Jesus Christ - so it is with nations.

That explains the history and condition and future of the modern State of Israel - just as it explains all nations today. 

Thursday, 26 November 2015

The Contemporary Church

Someone said religion is what you're left with after the Holy Spirit leaves the building.

But religious tradition isn't the only substitute we have for the Holy Spirit today.

Of course being fleshly and permissive can also be a substitute. But still there's something else.

Another common substitute is this: being 'contemporary'. Being 'relevant'.

"We're not religious!" they may say.

But that doesn't necessarily mean they're making room for the manifestation of the Spirit.

We have whole churches, whole denominations, a whole movement today which is neither traditional nor permissive - yet they don't often see the manifestation of the Spirit.

Why? Because their events are 'contemporary' - 'relevant'.

Perhaps there may be a thing or two which needs to be adjusted or even let go of maybe. But I think I have seen that some of the best elements of the Contemporary Church movement, and the manifestation of the Spirit, can be entirely compatible.

We just have to want it!

For example, you can have friendly carpark attendants; a digital countdown to starting time; restrictions on what an announcer can talk about during his moment on stage; a nice stage set; even lighting; state of the art audio-visual technology; skilled musicians; you can have some fun; not every meeting needs to be long - but not every meetings needs to deliberately program the manifestation of the Spirit out of it either. You can excel at all that and still have the ministry of the Spirit, in the same meeting.

Some meetings are meant to be an all-out outpouring of the Spirit.

Other meetings can focus entirely on the lost. 

Or have a special purpose or target group.

Have some elements of contemporariness and relevance, but still:

"Earnestly desire spiritual gifts".

"Quench not the Spirit".

"The manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal".

"Stir up the gift that is within you, that is in you through prophecy, through the laying on of hands of the presbytery".

"In as much as ye are zealous for spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel..."

"I would that ye all spake with tongues"

"Ye may all prophesy one by one"

"Not in word only, but in power"

"Not in wisdom of words, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and power"

"The Lord working with them, confirming the word with signs following"

"He that believes in me, the works that I do shall he do also..."

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

New Testament Supremacy

JESUS was 

before Abraham, 

GREATER than Moses, 

greater than Solomon, 

greater than the Temple, mightier than the greatest of the Prophets John the Baptist, 

Lord of the sabbath 

- yes I believe in New Testament supremacy!

Jesus may have countered the Jewish rulers' take on the Scriptures - but He didn't reinterpret it - He explained its originally intended meaning and place in the history of redemption.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God is the authoritative source for interpreting the Old Tedtament. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

God's Plan for Israel

God didn't have a better card to play to win Israel, than the Gospel of His Son.

He didn't have a better covenant to make with Israel in future, than the new, second covenant which Christ already made with them in His blood.

The Gospel was God's best plan to save Israel - and all nations.

Seeing Gentiles were able to get saved, initially through the witness of believing Jews, despite widespread unbelief among the Jews, it could only have been advantageous all around had more Jews believed. Therefore if God had a better card to play, He would have played it earlier instead of letting so many Jews suffer so needlessly these past approximately 2000 years - because not only might more Jews have been saved, but more Gentiles might have been saved as a consequence too!

No - the Gospel of Jesus Christ was the best and final plan God had for Israel. The Gospel is what Abraham was promised. The Gospel and the Gospel alone fulfilled the Law. The Gospel is the fulfilment of the Prophets.

Jesus said so. The Apostles said so.

The Gospel took nothing away from Israel - it only confirmed what was Israel's, and provided the only means of their obtaining and securing it.

Salvation is by grace through faith alone. Only believe!

God's plans for Israel under the Gospel were greater than any plans He had for them under the Old Covenant. 

So preach the GOSPEL - to all nations, including to the citizens of the modern State of Israel, and to all who self-identify as Jews around the world. 

JESUS - Saviour!

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Questions About Pre-Millennialism

To me, the future Millennium model raises as many problems as some say it solves, eg:

How can people be saved after the Second Coming?

Why didn't Jesus and the Apostles include it in their theology?

Why should the place of worship revert back to a city and mountain when the rest of the NT taught that was over?

Why must Satan be released again?

How could the nations be deceived after seeing Jesus with their own eyes?

If people get saved during that time, when do they get their glorified body? Is there a third resurrection?

Why is Jesus' glorious, worldwide Kingdom called a mere 'camp'?

Why did Jesus and the Apostles seem to describe the physical resurrection of the just and unjust as occurring on the same day?

Why did Jesus say the just will be resurrected on the "last day"?

Why did the Apostle say the Second Coming will be the day of judgment?

Why did they warn sinners to be ready for that Day?

Why did they seem to say there will come new heavens and a new earth straight after His coming?

Why did Jesus say only the born-again shall enter the Kingdom.

If the first resurrection is physical and still future, why didn't Revelation mention the spiritual, present, heavenly resurrection of believers which both Jesus and the Apostles made so much of?

How could the earth continue for a thousand years after the cosmos had already been rolled up like a scroll? and the sun and moon ceasing? and stars falling?

Why must we give themes like the binding of Satan, and the two phases of resurrection (present and future; spiritual and physical; exclusive to saints and general of everybody) a different meaning in one isolated and symbolic text than the same themes seem to be given everywhere else in the NT?

Why do we allow symbols and representativeness all the way through Revelation, except with regard to Satan's "binding", the first "resurrection" and the "thousand" years?

And what's really the point of it? 

Is the Second Coming our blessed hope? or must we endure another siege some thousand years afterwards, before our final rest comes.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Kingdom of God in the Bible

The Kingdom of God has always existed in heaven, and always will.

The Kingdom of God has also always existed on earth - in different senses at different times.

For example God offered to make Israel a kingdom of priests. Solomon sat upon the Throne of the Lord.

Israel lost the Kingdom to a great extent, but during that time God's Kingdom still reigned over all nations in a sense. Soon afterwards the Kingdom was also restored to Israel to a certain extent at the return from captivity.

But Jesus brought the Kingdom near in a much greater sense, through His own person, and ministry, through the New Covenant, through the blood of His cross. Believers are now in the Kingdom.

In another sense both the wicked and righteous co-exist at this time in the Kingdom (in another sense of the Kingdom). Yet the time shall come when the wicked will be uprooted from the Kingdom in that sense.

At that time the Kingdom shall appear for all to see. Then only the born-again shall enter it, even though in another sense they were already in it. The enjoyment of the eternal state after that is also called the Kingdom of God in still another sense.

Bible-Prophecy cannot always be correctly understood by rigidly applying only one sense of the many different senses in which the term The Kingdom of God is used in Scripture.

There are past, present, ongoing, and future aspects to the Kingdom - not only a still-future aspect, and not only a now past aspect.

The Prophets, the Lord Jesus and the Apostles discussed the coming of the Kingdom in more than one sense.

How to Be Seeker-Friendly

We should never feel that we need to forbid manifestations of the Spirit in meetings where we hope to reach unchurched people.

We ought to earnestly desire manifestations of the Spirit on such occasions - because the Holy Spirit knows what's good for unsaved people!

For example, Paul described what can be the result if the gift of prophecy is in manifestation and an unbeliever comes in:

"...if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth" (I Cor.14:24,25).

And I've seen exactly that happen - both in a church, and at a secular high school!

Believers "went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following" (Mark 16:20).

Signs - including tongues - "are not to them that believe, but to them that believe not" (I Cor.14:22).

The Holy Spirit isn't given to us just so we can benefit other believers - He wants to be involved in our outreach too!

Therefore the best way to truly be a 'seeker-friendly' church is to always have 'Holy Ghost friendly' meetings.

But the key is, to "let all your things be done with love" (I Cor.16:14).

That means, we ought to want to make sure it's benefiting everyone.

But that doesn't mean we should see fewer manifestations of the Spirit - we can see more - and we can also see them expressed more lovingly.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Millennial Metaphor?

"For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living."

Could the Millennium be a metaphor of that?

Friday, 13 November 2015

Millennium and Judgment

Jesus allegedly fights the nations at His coming; survivors go into the Millennium, only to be deceived, judged and thrown into the lake of fire. So what's really the point of the Millennium?


Jesus is King over all the earth.
Jesus' ministry convinced many of the young Jews to cry Hosanna. Jesus' works demonstrated that the Kingdom of God had come. Abraham's promise was being performed. 

Although not all Israel believed; although not all the world believed; although all were persecuted and many were martyred - still God's Kingdom had come.

It has come in those who believe. But the tares were allowed to stay with the wheat - therefore all believers also suffer for His Name.

But He that will come will come and will not tarry. Meanwhile God is giving space to repent.

By doing the works that Jesus did, we demonstrate best that the prophesied Kingdom and salvation of Israel has come.

Exegesis is another way. Demonstration is another. 

"All the world shall worship" doesn't necessarily mean every last individual. Every last Jew. 

The remnant believe. 

The tares remain for now.

Inauguration will one day be the consummation. 

Thursday, 12 November 2015

Questions About the Pre-Tribulation Rapture

Some say a Pre-Tribulation Rapture is necessary because:

God has not called us to wrath

But what if the wrath happens after the Second Coming?

God will keep us from the hour of temptation which is to try those who are on the earth

But what if God delivers us from temptation while all around us are being tried?

If everything in Revelation is strictly chronological, then won't it be the case that God won't wipe tears away from eyes until after the New Heavens and Earth have been made, after the Millennium? You mean Christians will still have tears during the Millennium? Tears won't be removed from non-Christians, because there will be weeping.

And for what purpose would the leaves of the trees which are for the healing of the nations be? if this describes the New Earth?

So could there be a bit of overlapping, backtracking, or statements which apply the future to the present, in Revelation?

If the days of vengeance meant AD70, did vengeance end then? was it only for Jews? or for all the nations.

If the days of vengeance are still future, did Jesus say nothing at all about the destruction of the second Temple and scattering of the Jews?

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Questions About Dispensational Pre-Millennialism

This is the Dispensational Pre-Millennial idea, as far as I can tell:

There is nothing else which needs to be fulfilled first, so the...

Secret rapture

... can happen at any moment.

The dead in Christ rise from the dead, then believers who are alive and remain get raptured with them into the clouds to meet the Lord; they get glorified bodies, go to heaven, receive rewards, and enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Meanwhile on earth...

The Great Tribulation

...breaks out.

(And Dispensational Pre-Millennialism has some unique interpretations about what happens during the Great Tribulation.)

After exactly seven years of Great Tribulation...

The Second Coming
...happens. Christ comes with His saints. Every eye shall see him. Unbelievers cry out for fear of the sight of the Second Coming.

But their fears are premature, because instead of judging sinners straightaway, Christ sets up His headquarters in the city of Jerusalem, and allows sinners to remain and enjoy His thousand year reign, called...

The Millennium

An angel descends from heaven, grabs the devil and binds him.

During this thousand year reign, all Israel gets saved. Ezekiel's massive Temple gets built. The Levitical priesthood is reinstituted. Animal sacrifices resume (but only as a memorial).

In mount Zion there is a suspension of the normal harmful behaviour of snakes and lions.

Unsaved people, still in their physical bodies, continue to bear children. Longevity improves.

But Christ rules the nations with a rod of iron. He crushes many nations. Uncircumcised nations, and pork-eating nations are particular objects of Christ's wrath. Any nation which does not make annual pilgrimages to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles at the altar in the Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem will be cursed. (And the Bible describes the curse.)

Saints are appointed over administrative regions, on Christ's behalf. They fly around the world in their glorified bodies. And engage with Christ in crushing disobedient nations.

When the thousand years are ended, Satan is released. He deceives the nations again. They amass around the camp of the saints.

Of course the attempt fails. All the unsaved dead are raised physically, only to face...

The Great White Throne Judgement

After which all the wicked are cast into the...

Lake of Fire

...with the devil.

Then God creates...

New Heavens and a New Earth

...where the saints are finally at home forever.

That all raises some questions:

Dispensationalional Pre-Millennialists define imminency as the doctrine that the rapture can occur at any moment - that nothing else needs to be fulfilled first.

If that's the case, then imminency must be a new doctrine, established in the Post-Apostolic period - because Jesus said His coming and the end of the world would be preceded by the destruction of the Temple and of the city of Jerusalem and by the scattering of the Jews. Those events didn't happen inside 40 years later. So imminency, as defined above, couldn't have existed during those 40 years.

Paul said not to be concerned that the second coming and resurrection at already happened or were at hand - because according to Paul certain things had to happen first, like a great falling away, and the man of sin standing in the Temple. All of that had to take some time.

Paul said the fulness of the Gentiles had to come in. That also had to take some time.

End of the World
Jesus equated the event of His Second Coming with the end of the world - He didn't describe it as an event to occur 1000 years before the end of the world.

The Secret Rapture
Paul said that the rapture and resurrection are to happen at the last trumpet - not seven years before the last trumpet - and the event was called the Coming of the Lord.

Jesus didn't mention a 1000 year gap between the resurrection of the righteous and the resurrection of the wicked. He just said all who are in the graves will hear his voice and will be raised.

If all Christians dead and living are raised and receive their resurrection-bodies at the Secret-Rapture, it couldn't be a secret event - because Jesus said the graves will be opened.

If people are saved and martyred during the Great Tribulation, when are they raised to life - if the resurrection has already passed? That would require a third resurrection - but there is no mention of it in the Bible.

How can Jews or anyone be saved after the Second Coming?

If the Millennium is required in order to fulfil His promised salvation to Israel, then how can the salvation of many Jews in the first-century and since be explained.

If people can be saved during the Millennium, then why warn about the Second Coming, and why the doctrine of imminency?

Jewish Feasts
Why would it be necessary and valid to observe Old Covenant Feasts and sacrifices after we are in the New Covenant?

The only memorial Jesus instituted was the Lord's Table - and only until He comes (because after He comes, we won't need a memorial any more, for we shall see face to face and we shall see Him as He is.)


Jesus' parables of the Kingdom described the judgment of the wicked happening at the same time that the righteous are gathered into the Kingdom, at a moment called the end of the world - not 1000 years apart.

What would be the point of delaying the world's judgment after Christ comes, for a thousand years?

Monday, 9 November 2015

New Earth and Heaven and the Millennium

If you take Revelation too literally, it describes the universe collapsing during the alleged Great Tribulation. Realising this, someone has proposed that the New Heavens and New Earth must be made before the Millennium not after - and has found numerous Scriptures proving this - proving that the New Heavens and New Earth are made at Christ's Second Coming.

I think he could be right that the New Heavens and New Earth will be made at Christ's Second Coming. But Peter said only the righteous enter the New Earth, whereas Revelation says the nations got deceived again after the Millennium. In a Pre-Millennial view, that would mean only Christians go into the Millennium, and that the nations who are deceived and who attack the camp of the saints might be the departed souls of the lost. One theologian believes something like that.

Wouldn't it fit better to think of the vision of the Millennium as symbolising the scheme of things during the Church age? Isn't it taught in the Epistles and Gospels that despite martyrdom and death, believers live spiritually and reign with Christ (whether in life or in death), being unhurt permanently or spiritually by the devil (from whom the power of death has been stripped, on the cross), and then after an indeterminately long period of time, and perhaps a brief period of increased persecution towards the end of time, all the dead will be raised physically this time, either unto damnation, or to finally share in the visible Kingdom of God in the eternal New Heavens and Earth? The vision of the Millennium seems to fit that framework, with fewer anomalies than other ideas about the Millennium.

Not that I'm asserting it. Just thinking.

and And and And and

There is a way in which the word and can occur five times in a row in a single sentence and still be gramatically correct.

But it's not the way a lot of preachers repeat the word and.

Here's a clue:



You need more space between fish and and and and and chips.

Other than that, the word and, when it's used as a conjunction between two clauses, only needs to be said once. Preachers please note.

And may God help me also, because there go I too but for His grace.

Resurrection in the New Testament

Early believers were taught that Jesus was coming to give them the Kingdom. They were taught that Jesus alone was sufficient, without the works of the Law, for entry into the Kingdom.

Christians started dying natural deaths, or being martyred. Some concern arose that the dead in Christ might have missed out on the Kingdom.

There was even some concern that everyone may have missed the Kingdom.

So Paul reassured them that the resurrection had not past. There had to come a great falling away first. The man of sin had to sit in the Temple first.

Paul taught that the dead in Christ are with Christ; that He shall bring them with Him; and they shall be raised first; then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds.

Whether in death or life, believers were assured of participation in the future Kingdom. They were also assured of living with Christ despite physical death.

Jesus said he who believes in him would never die but is passed already from death to life. Though he die, yet shall he live. But then He also spoke of the day when the dead will come out of the graves, both the righteous and wicked.

Then when the time came when a great persecution and distress upon nations was to arise, John forewarned them, and symbolised the scheme of things in visions, so they could make sense of their present sufferings, which seemed to contradict their hope of the coming Kingdom (the scheme of things as already taught by the Lord and the Apostles).

Perhaps the meaning of the thousand year reign therefore was as follows:

The devil bound - on the cross - meaning, the devil was judged, stripped of his power through the Law, stripped of the power of death

The dead believers lived - spiritually raised with Christ; and living with Christ despite physical death, in heaven (the first, spiritual, heavenly resurrection)

And reigned with Christ - in life or in death; in spirit (on earth), or in heaven. Reigning, yet waiting - like Christ reigned in heaven, yet waits til His enemies be made His footstool

A thousand years - for an indeterminately long period of time - the Church age

The rest of the dead - the unbelievers

Lived not again - spiritually, nor physically

Until the thousand years be ended - that is, until the end of the Church Age - the Second Coming - the general, physical resurrection of everybody - they don't go to heaven in the meantime

Devil loosed - perhaps an increase in deception towards the end of time

Camp of the saints - symbolic of all the righteous

Second resurrection - the general, physical resurrection - of the righteous to eternal life, of the wicked to damnation

Blessed is he who partakes of the first resurrection - because the second death cannot hurt him

The second death - is when the resurrected body is cast into the lake of fire - so the first death is either physical death or spiritual death inherited from Adam

So the first resurrection - might be spiritual - not the eternal physical resurrected state

The purpose may have been to encourage believers that despite martyrdom and death, they can't lose, due to the above scheme.

I'm not ruling out the idea that the thousand years is instead a literal historical period to come. I see some problems with it. But I will give it more thought in future.

Two Phase Gospel

I totally agree that Dispensationalism blurs the fact that God's promises and prophecies to Israel under the Old Covenant, have been fulfilled. Dispensationalism blurs the New Covenant. Couldn't agree more.

I also really like what someone said about the importance of the historical-critical method of interpreting prophecy. That's crucial for distinguishing between the Covenants.

But full-Preterism isn't the only option besides Dispensationalism. And Post-Millennialism's utopia isn't necessarily implied. 

I currently think clarity about the Covenants can be achieved without necessarily defining things like the Second Coming, the Judgment, the End of the World, and the New Earth as exclusively AD70 events.

I think Matthew 24 and Daniel make a distinction between events which were to happen within the Second Temple period (events related to the Temple), and the final end of the world (for which no timeframe was given). I think they even described what would happen in-between!

Saying that the Second Coming and end of the world are still future, in my mind is not because God's promises to Israel haven't been fulfilled yet. It's just because the Kingdom itself is a two-phase thing.

I think the Old Testament Prophets foresaw the two phases of the coming Kingdom, although they didn't fully understand that.

With New Testament understanding, we interpret the two phases of Kingdom-Prophecy to be the cross, and the still-future second coming - but nothing to do with a future Jewish Old Covenant style Dispensation.

I agree we've underestimated the glory that can happen in-between. We've underestimated the grace that is ours now in this time. And Dispensationalism is partly to blame. As is Cessationism. 

But I still think God Himself has set a parameter on what can be achieved this side of the Second Coming. And it's broader than just death.

We've received grace - but Peter spoke of grace that is yet to be received when Christ comes.

We've received new life - but Paul spoke of the resurrection which is yet to occur when He comes.

We've been saved - yet we're going to be saved in that Day.

Old things have indeed passed away, and all things have become new - yet it's going to happen physically too, when He comes.

Jesus is indeed coming to put down death in that Day - but He will also put down principalities and rulers which have resisted the Gospel and which have been allowed to remain despite persecuting the Church because God is patient and is giving more space to repent. It will be His eternal judgment at His coming that will perform that. 

The inauguration phase was the cross - the culmination phase is the Second Coming. AD70 fulfilled certain prophecies, but it didn't bring the ultimate culmination. AD70 was a tragedy. Jesus wept at the thought!

The Gospel didn't remove any of the Jews' privileges - it confirmed them and improved upon them - then included Gentiles in the same privileges.

'Dreaming with God', and 'understanding our inclusion in the Divine nature and body of Christ', are definite privileges provided for us all in the New Covenant - and I think there is much potential still to be realised in that. Right now in this present world. Very exciting! We've put too many limits on what that can achieve.

But I'm not convinced the New Covenant means that everybody's going to believe, and that all persecution shall cease, before the Second Coming.

I don't think it means eternal Judgment is a thing of the past. I think it's still valid to urge people to flee from the wrath to come. John did, and admittedly he was one of the last of the Old Covenant prophets - nevertheless he did have more than just AD70 in mind.

Biblical themes like fire, wrath, judgment, old things passing away, salvation, grace, all things being made new, new covenant, the second coming, resurrection, new heavens and a new earth, etc. each had a far more worldwide application and eternal meaning that just what happened in Jerusalem in AD70 alone.

We are still looking forward - not just to the Church's achievements in future history, but to the Second Coming and all that alone will bring.

In-between, there will always be persecution - but at the same time I'm sure there is far more grace, righteousness, rest, and potential than perhaps we've realised. 

All Israel Shall Be Saved

Paul was responding to a first-century issue, explaining a first-century scheme and reality. He didn't know how long the Gospel-scheme will last for - no-one does - but he certainly didn't envision that there'll come a change of scheme before the Second Coming. So I think he was explaining the scheme by which all Jews could still get saved - no matter how far into the future the Second Coming is (when the scheme shall end).

People get hung up over "all Israel". But Joel said God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh - but it didn't mean literally every individual in the world would be filled with the Spirit. Same with Israel - it never meant literally every Israeli would be saved. Paul explained that (the remnant)!

Israeli Nationalism

Nothing wrong with being excited about Israel - because modern Israelis are people too. And if some of them truly are unmixed descendants of Jacob, then they are also beloved for the fathers' sakes (just like Jill's kids are beloved for Jill's sake).

It's just that that doesn't give them any spiritual privileges which Gentile Christians don't already have now too. And it's just that the Old Covenant isn't meant to be revisited.

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Pre-Trib Rapture

1. It is said to be necessary in order to uphold the idea that Jesus can return at any moment. But Jesus' said the Temple had to be destroyed before He can come. And after that the Gospel would be preached to all nations. That's got to take some time. Paul also said the man of sin had to be revealed first.

2. The verse on which the Pre-Tribulation rapture is said to be based mentions the resurrection. The Tribulation is said to last seven years. That would mean the resurrection of the saints occurs seven years before the Millennium. But it is said that the resurrection of the saints occurs at the beginning of the Millennium.

3. When the Bible mentions the bodily resurrection, it mentions the resurrection of both the just and unjust, as if they are to occur together. Same with judgement - the judgement of the good and the unjust are both described as if they are to occur together. But the Pre-Tribulation Rapture separates the two resurrections and two judgements by 1007 years.

4. If the saints are taken out before the Great Tribulation, why did John write to warn them about events during the Tribulation?  

About the Millennium

1. Paul said prophecies had to be judged. Judged by whom? By other prophets standing by. By what standard? By the words of Jesus. By the Apostles' doctrine. By the Scriptures of the Prophets. And by anything that was revealed to other prophets standing by.

Peter said no prophecy of the Scriptures was of private interpretation. That means it didn't come from the prophets' own ideas but from the Spirit. But Peter also said they had a more sure word of prophecy. Meaning, through the Lord, with the Holy Spirit, the Apostles were able to interpret Prophecy authoritatively.

So that would apply to the Book of Revelation. Like any prophecy, it should stand the test of judgement, from an authoritative source. Judgement by whom? By other prophets and apostles. But no Biblical Apostles wrote a commentary on Revelation. So by what standard can it be judged? By the already-established theology of the Apostles, and of the Lord, and of the Old Testament Prophets.

Wouldn't that mean the Book of Revelation must be understood within the framework of theology which can be established in the Bible, independently of the Book of Revelation itself? Or can it legitimately add theology not mentioned anywhere else in Scripture?

2. The Millennium is said to be required in order to fulfil God's Kingdom-promises. But Jesus said only the born-again will see the Kingdom of God. So how can there be unsaved people in the Millennium who will be deceived by Satan to attack the camp of the saints?

3. The Millennial reign is said to bring the salvation of national Israel. But Jesus warned His Jewish audience that it will be too late for people who aren't ready when the Son of Man comes. So how can Jews get saved during the Millennium?

4. The Millennial reign is said to be required in order to fulfil Old Testament prophecies concerning Israel. But those prophecies described Israel observing the Levitical sacrificial system, which was later superseded by the New Covenant. So how can the fulfilment of those prophecies be in the future?
5. It is said that animal sacrifices will be made during the Millennium as a memorial. But the only memorial Jesus' instituted was the Lord's Table - and only till He comes. Once He comes we won't need a memorial any more, for we shall see Him as He is, face to face.

AD70 and the End of the World

He came on time and on location.

In Jesus' generation there was the inauguration of everything that had been prophesied.

It was already the last hour.

Christ was crucified in the end of the world.

They were already hastening unto the coming of the Lord.

The Temple was later destroyed and Jews scattered, as predicted. According to Daniel and all the Prophets, Messiah had to come before that. And He had come - JESUS!

But AD70 didn't fulfil every theme connected with the question of the Second Coming and the end of the world.

The final Judgment will be eternal, not measured in days which could be shortened for the elects' sake.

The fires will be unquenchable, unlike the fires lit by Roman armies which eventually burnt out.

The Second Coming will be accompanied by the bodily resurrection. At the last trumpet.

Only righteousness will inhabit the new earth. But for now, the tares are allowed to remain alongside the wheat.

Christ is reigning, but He's also waiting - waiting for the day when His enemies are made His footstool. But that won't be culminated without the instrumentality of His still-future Second Coming and Judgment.

God is delaying for sinners' sakes.

We only live once. Every generation must have a sense of urgency. With an inner rest and assurance.

Friday, 6 November 2015

Israel - in Prophecy & Fulfilment

Israel - in prophecy & fulfilment.

Imagine if you promised that you're going to visit my house and give my household Christmas presents, and that you're going to bring us more than enough presents for us to give to our neighbours as well.

And you did exactly that - you visited me and gave us our presents and we enjoyed them first, then soon afterwards we went out and gave presents to all my neighbours as well.

If many members of my household didn't open their presents - that wouldn't mean you failed to keep your promise.

It wouldn't mean you've postponed your promise to the future.

Neither would it mean you're redefining my 'household'.

It wouldn't mean you visited my neighbours instead of me.

It wouldn't mean that the presents my neighbours are enjoying was something else you did unexpectedly.

It wouldn't mean that what you've got in mind is to come back in future and do something exclusively for me and my house.

No - you visited, I saw you, we're enjoying our presents - it just means some members of my house didn't open theirs!

And it doesn't mean you took their presents away: they can still open them anytime.

In fact you're hoping that when they see the neighbours enjoying their presents, it might provoke them to eagerly open theirs.

If a moment came when a bunch of my household did eventually open their presents together, that wouldn't mean your promise to me and my house was finally being fulfilled in the eyes of my neighbours.

No. It just meant those members of my house came to believe that you'd already visited, believed that the presents were theirs, and decided to open them.

Included with everyone's gift is a Christmas card, and in each card you've placed a promissory note - a note saying that one day you're coming back to our street, with Rolls Royce limos, to bring everyone to a brand new, secured complex where there are many mansions, a paradise - and everyone who has your promissory note can come.

Everyone is so excited about it, it doesn't matter any more that we once thought my house was so different to all my neighbours' houses. We're all in the same boat now - just enjoying and waiting!

Your plan was that your presents and ultimately the mansions are for our whole street without distinguishing between my household and theirs - but you did visit my house FIRST, as you said.

And that's one way we know you are the real gift-giver, not an imposter - because it all happened the way you said it would.

It also eliminates unfounded, distracting suppositions about what you might do in future.

The fact that you've already fulfilled your promise by visiting me and my house is history - and it's the very reason so many of us in our street are looking so happy.

No wonder we keep urging everyone who hasn't opened their present and card yet to do so - so they're ready when you come!

CHRIST did not build His CHURCH - His Body - the true House of God - without FULFILLING His PROMISES and PROPHECIES for ISRAEL FIRST - without failing, without postponement to a future Dispensation, without replacing Israel, and without redefining the meaning of 'Israel' by spiritualising it - but literally in Israel, and for Israel, in history.

Salvation was to the Jew FIRST, and also to the Gentiles - as the Scriptures foresaw.

Israel; Gentiles & Church - in Prophecy & Fulfilment.

Israel. Gentiles. Church.

Imagine if you promised that you're going to visit my house and give my household Christmas presents and that you're going to bring us more than enough presents to give to our neighbours as well.

And you did exactly that - you visited me and gave us our presents and we enjoyed them first, then soon afterwards we went out and gave presents to all my neighbours as well.

If some members of my household haven't opened their presents yet - that wouldn't mean you failed to keep your promise to me.

It wouldn't mean you've postponed your promise to the future.

Neither would it mean you're defining my 'household' differently.

It wouldn't mean you visited my neighbours instead of me.

It wouldn't mean you did something unexpected - for my neighbours; wouldn't mean that what you've got in mind is to come back in future and do something else exclusively for me and my house.

No - you visited, I saw you, we're enjoying our presents - it just means some members of my house didn't open theirs!

And it doesn't mean you took their presents away: they can still open them anytime.

In fact you're hoping that when they see the neighbours enjoying their presents, it might provoke them to eagerly open theirs.

If a moment came when a bunch of my household did eventually open their presents together, that wouldn't mean your promise to me and my house was finally being fulfilled in the eyes of my neighbours.

No. It just meant those members of my house finally believed that you'd already come, believed that the presents were theirs, and decided to open them.

With everyone's gift you've included a Christmas card, and in each card you've placed a Title Deed and a promissory note - a note saying that one day you're coming back to our street, with Rolls Royce limos, to bring everyone into a brand new, secured complex with many mansions, a paradise - and everyone who has your promissory note can come.

Everyone is so excited about it, it doesn't matter any more that we once thought my house was so different to all the neighbours' houses. We're all in the same boat now! Enjoying and waiting.

Your mansions, your gifts, and your original, overall plan, was for our whole street, without distinguishing between households - but you did visit my house FIRST, as you said.

And that's one way we know you are the real gift-giver, not an imposter. Because it happened the way you said.

It also eliminates unfounded concepts about how you're going to do things in future.

The fact that you've already visited me and my house is history. It's the very reason so many of us in our street are looking so happy.

No wonder we keep urging everyone who hasn't opened their present and card yet to do so - so they're ready when you come!

Allegory in Revelation?

I still have to think about the idea of some that Revelation's forecast of church history mirrors OT prophecies about Israel.

Some adherents to Covenant Theology say the prohecies about Israel are actually fulfilled by church history, not by Jewish history.

Unfortunately I had a bad introduction to Covenant Theology and still feel turned off by the attitudes I encountered.

I found many adherents to Covenant Theology had a tacit inability to concede that any reference to Israel in Bible Prophecy ever meant natural Israel at all. And if you suggested it, they'd use every method at their legal disposal to punish you for it.

To the extreme that when I asked them for a verse which they felt is the strongest verse which meant Messiah had to minister in natural Israel, none could answer.

Of course the reason none could answer is because if one of them gave even a single verse, they would be afraid of being seen to commit that dreaded error of assigning a natural rather than Covenantal meaning to Israel.

But what that meant in effect is that so far as they can acertain, Messiah could just as well have been born in Baghdad instead of Bethlehem, or ministered in Idumea instead of Israel.

Yet spiritualising all references to Israel in prophecy like that, removes all geographical and historical basis for our assertion that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the details required by Messianic prophecy.

The Apostles, on the other hand, asserted that there had been the fulfilment in Israel, and for Israel, of God's promises to Israel.

And when they sought to justify the inclusion of Gentiles in the Church, they quoted prophecies which nominated Gentiles specifically, rather than spiritualise the identity of Israel in prophecy.

In other words they established their case for Jesus being Messiah, and justified the mixed Jewish and Gentile Church, without disloyalty to the identities in prophecy, but through loyalty to every detail.

Yet I was removed from one discussion group, and well-nigh disfellowshipped from two others, for suggesting such a view of prophecy.

When I asked the same question of Dispensationalists (a verse indicating Messiah had to minister in natural Israel), the Thread straightaway lit up with verses. They even wondered why such an obvious question should ever have to be asked.

The contrast left me wondering about the theology which made adherents to Covenant Theology blind to one of the most obvious facts in Biblical history! (Messiah's prophesied ministry in Israel.)

So although I think Dispensationalists are wrong for thinking Israel's prophecies have been postponed, I think they're right in saying prophecies about Israel were actually about Israel.

So if Revelation is about the same events as Old Testament prophecy, then that might extend the historical timeframe for the fulfilment of prophecies about Israel beyond AD70 perhaps.

But if Revelation is about the Church, not about Israel, then that might mean John was referencing already-fulfilled prophecies about Israel, only as allegories of New Covenant issues. 

That method is possible I guess, because Paul used that technique when discussing faith versus works. He referenced history about Ishmael and Hagar, and made it an allegory of a present truth - without denying the historical aspect.

John's Preaching

John the Baptist preached that people had to repent, and be baptised in order to enter the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the Lamb of God who took away the sins of the world. Jesus baptises in the Holy Spirit and in fire. He is both Saviour and Judge. 

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Rightly Dividing the Word

The night I became a Christian at age 12, I was given the Gospel of John, to read in a week.

Next I decided to read from the Epistles through to Revelation - and decided to add Acts on at the start - because I thought, and somehow knew, that it is the Epistles which contain material which applies almost entirely unequivocally for us as Christians. And most of Acts is a direct example for us too.

By the time I finished doing that, I somehow felt that in order to apply the Book of Revelation properly, it would help if I first understood the rest of the Bible properly. So I set myself on a quest to do that, and went to the Book of Genesis, and started reading the whole Bible through in order.

That was all a pretty good strategy, I think. Sometimes the born-again spirit of a new Christian knows things, before any man has advised him.

The first time I read the Bible through, I read all of the Old Testament as types of New Covenant truth. All of it. That was appropriate for my first reading seeing I was a New Christian, and the Holy Spirit wanted me to enjoy my newfound life in Jesus.

But on the second or third reading of the Old Testament, I started to read it as history as well. And that's also important, because our Christian faith is based on the historical fulfilment of Bible Prophecy, not only on spiritual or ethereal experiences.

I can remember one day I prayed to understand the Prophets the way the Lord intended.

Paul said if any man thinks he knows anything, he doesn't know anything yet as he ought to know it. So I don't think I know any thing yet.

But I can say I understand it sufficiently to assert that modern Judaism is not necessary - not for us, not for anyone, not now, not ever.

And I can certainly assert that Jesus of Nazareth is the Saviour - not only based on my spiritual experience, but based also on the fulfilment in history, on time, on location in Israel, of Bible-Prophecies concerning Israel.

Paul talked about rightly dividing - rightly navigating through - the Scriptures. That means there's a wrong way to do it too!

There's a right and wrong way to use Moses' Scriptures today. And Samuel. And the Psalms. And the Prophets. Same for some things in some of the Gospels. And some things early in Acts. There's a wrong and a right way to apply those parts of Scripture. As for the Epistles, they mostly apply to us unequivocally. Mostly.

But what about Revelation? Although I'm not quite as sure of this, I still say it may be valid to think of the Book of Revelation as illustrative of things already taught in the writings of the Apostles - to make Revelation fit into the framework of doctrine already established by the Bible (as explained in the Epistles, as reported in the Gospels and of course as it began to be unfolded in the Old Testament). Rather than seeing the Book of Revelation as adding components of theology not already established elsewhere in the Bible; and leaving it open to post-Biblical interpretation rather than understanding it in terms of the Biblical, authoritative presentation of God's story.

So the writings of the Apostles are the hinge-pin by which we can correctly understand the Old Testament (and the Gospels) - but it may also be the hinge-pin by which we can correctly understand the Book of Revelation.

That's because the Apostles learned their doctrine from Jesus Christ. He expounded the Scriptures to them and spoke to them of things concerning the Kingdom of God. Then they wrote it for us. But we don't have their commentary on Revelation. But we know its meaning has to fit with what they wrote, because their writings repeated what Jesus taught.

And that includes Paul's writings - because the Apostles and Elders at Jerusalem endorsed Paul's ministry and doctrine.

But we don't have the same certainty that the Apostles endorsed the so-called Apostolic Fathers or Church Fathers. Therefore we are better to make Revelation fit the Apostles' doctrine, than to rely on post-Biblical, second-century commentaries on it.

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Live and Reign with Christ

Whom the heavens must receive until the time of the restitution of all things.

For he must reign, until His enemies be made His footstool.

Jesus is reigning - already, in heaven.

It's a reign which has a certain amount of waiting in it. Waiting for His enemies to be made His footstool.

And that doesn't necessarily happening as a result of a slow process in history, although that may be involved - but on the last Day all His enemies will be judged eternally.

So could Revelation's thousand year reign be a present reality - representative of the indeterminately long period of church history prior to the Second Coming?

Saints are raised spiritually to live and reign with Christ spiritually, whether on earth or in heaven (the first, spiritual resurrection, heavenly in character) - but on the last day the dead in Christ shall rise (second, bodily resurrection) to participate with we who are alive and remain on the earth, in His eternal, visible Kingdom in the new heavens and new earth.

The devil still goes around like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. But he is bound in the sense that he can't wield the power of death over believers - not spiritual death, and not even physical death, because for believers physical death is only temporary, and in the mean time they live spiritually with Christ in heaven and reign with Him in the same sense that He reigns now, except that unlike Him they are still awaiting their bodily resurrection.

Hill tribe

On our way to reach a hill-tribe.

We crossed rivers, climbed the mountain.

It was raining.

One river-crossing was on a narrow log, high above a fast-flowing river.

I was told I was the first foreigner ever to set foot on those mountains. So I was expecting that when we finally arrived in the village, the people would look surprised.

But when we arrived, the chief gathered the village-folk together - half an hour went by - and still no-one looked surprised.

So I asked my interpreter to ask the chief if it was really true that I was the first foreigner they'd seen - and if so, why didn't anyone look surprised.

The chief answered:

"Way back in ’79, we used to worship the spirits. Our men used to spear each other. We had as many wives as we liked. We were all afraid of the witchdoctor.

Then one day I had a dream. Someone dressed in white appeared to me and said, ‘You better repent of what you’re doing, and start worshipping the one true God in heaven.'

So I repented and began worshiping the one true God in heaven.

Then I was told in another dream to gather the whole village together and tell them all to repent and start worshipping the one true God in heaven.

So I gathered the whole village together and told them the dream. The whole village repented and started worshipping the one true God in heaven.

Then I was told in another dream to write down certain laws which the tribe should live by.

I was also told in a dream to build a building where the whole village could gather to worship God together.

The behavior of our village became so good. Of all tribes we gained the reputation of causing the least trouble to the government. So much so that my name was changed to Datu Malinaw [peacemaking chief].

Then one day I got sick," the chief continued, "I had to go down to the low lands to find a doctor. But the first person I met happened to be a Pastor.

He took me in, and showed me the Bible. I was amazed to discover that almost word-for-word what was written in that Bible was what had been told me in the dreams.

So I knew that the God who wrote that Bible was the same God who had been appearing to me in the dreams. So I invited the pastor to come and live in our village, learn our language, and teach us about God.

Finally I was told in another dream that one day white people will come from a far away country and tell us more about what God wants us to do.

So no-one’s surprised to see you, we’ve been waiting for you since ‘79," the chief said.

They probably wondered why it took us so long to get there!

I asked the chief whether he had ever heard about Christianity before he met the pastor. He answered, No.

The chief put on traditional head dress and performed a tribal dance of welcome.

He said they knew I had a message from God for them, and the whole village was eager to hear it.

So I preached to them about God's plan of salvation; water baptism, and receiving the Holy Spirit.

"When God first made the world," I said, "everything was good. There was no sickness, no death, no violence. God walked with man and talked with man every day.

But man disobeyed God - and it brought death into the world. Man's disobedience separated man from God. All have disobeyed; all faced death and punishment.

But God loved the world so much, He did not leave us in that situation. He sent His only Son to reveal the Father to the world, and to die for our disobedience. His Son healed the sick. He did no wrong.

But He was killed. God gave Him as a sacrifice - a substitute - for the disobedience of us all. He was buried. And on the third day God raised Him up from the dead.

Now whoever repents of his disobedience and believes in Jesus, will be saved - and God will raise him up from the dead on the last day when Jesus comes again."

When I finished speaking, the chief dismissed us and all the people from his house. Only the elders stayed inside. A short while later we were all invited back inside. The spokesman for the village announced:

"As Elders we have discussed the message which we all just heard, and we have unanimously agreed that it is truly a message from God. Therefore as of now we all accept it."

But the chief didn't give permission for the people to be baptised.

"But if you'll help us build a new building," he said, "then I'll allow the people to be baptized." (He explained that the building they'd built for worship, in obedience to a dream, had become quite old and run down.)

At first I thought that if the chief's obedience to God was sincere, he should be willing to be bapised whether or not we help him build a new building. But straightaway God softened my heart. It was like the Lord was impressing on my heart:

"These people don't have legal title to the land they're on; they have little formal education; the chief feels that by submitting his people to baptism, he would be bringing his people into covenant with you. All he needs to see is a small sign of your sincerity - so he knows he's not putting his people at risk of being exploited and driven of their land - then he will gladly submit to baptism."

I told one of the pastors with me what I felt in my heart. The pastor immediately gave the chief 100 pesos (which at the time was equivalent to about only five dollars). Immediately the chief gave permission for the whole village to be baptised!

I decided however to come good on our promise to help them first, before baptising them.

We stayed overnight in the chief's house. They fed us wholeheartedly with the most delicious rice which they grow on the mountain slopes, and meat and vegetables. The chief called me by an affectionate (and humourous) nickname.

Next morning we met in the worship building. The chief and his family, and the spokesman for the Elders and his family, sat at a table at the front; the heads of each family sat at tables along both sides of the building, with their family seated behind them.

I saw the rules written down which were given to the chief in a dream, displayed in a central place for all to see. I asked for a translation - it was almost exactly the same as some of the Ten Commandments.
The children had learned to sing in English a song which for years has been my favourite song: Jesus how lovely you are

You are so gentle, so loving and kind.

You shine like the bright morning star

Jesus how lovely you are
We stayed three days. I visited the tribe a total of three times. One time we ministered about the Holy Spirit - they were eager to receive.

A pastor calculated the cost of building a church for them on the mountaintop. They could hire a chain saw to cut wood from the jungle - the only cost would be corrugated roofing iron and cement. The cost would be around only $2,500.

When I got back to Australia I told a church about it.

"That's a small price, to see a whole village get baptised," I said.

While I was still speaking, the pastor jumped up and grabbed the microphone off me.

"Let's take-up an offering on that straightaway," he told his congregation, "And whatever you give in the offering, we'll match it dollar-for-dollar from existing funds."

In one meeting, in a single offering, almost the whole amount was given.

The money was sent overseas. Youth trekked up the mountain carrying heavy bags of cement on their shoulders. The whole building was built from beautiful Philippine Mahogany. At the dedication/thanksgiving service, 1,300 people were in attendance from neighbouring villages.
And the chief came true to his word - he and his whole village got baptised - in one day.

And they've been having church ever since. At the time approximately 25,000 people belonged to their language-group, scattered in villages across hilltops of the region.

Since then a number of their young people have graduated from Bible College; several have become pastors, and more churches have been planted; and a single-room school-building was built.

Sadly a couple of years ago their churches and many of their homes and livelihood were destroyed in a cyclone. But almost straightaway they began rebuilding the church. They soon began holding church services again, even though the rebuilding isn't finished yet.