As time moved forward out of the moral darkness of Babylon after the flood, God found a man who had finally seen enough of wickedness. Terah found a thought continually disturbing his mind that Ur was no place to raise up his boys. Although part of a long line of families who maintained the fundamentals of the truth, due to his exposure to rampant idolatry, Terah’s conception of God’s will had become degraded. So he left the Babylonian suburb but was content to remain within the Fertile Crescent where merchandise was idolized, and through the constant traffic found there, the good life of the world could be guaranteed. Over time, the settlement named after Terah’s son, took on the evil attributes which had unconsciously been carried out of the Chaldees with them. The influence of the pagan travelers, as well, left their mark on the inhabitants of the camp and it had lost its original purpose of being separate from the indulgent practices so prevalent around the world. They needed to move again, but Terah, unable to listen to God’s voice, was to stay where his heart was and where he had made his home.
Abram was to remove from his father, and all his brother Haran’s business and worldliness. He was to leave the comforts and security of civilization and to come down into the arid hills of the land of Canaan, God’s original destination for Terah.
Abram conceded. Packing up his things, with his wife and helpers, he forever put behind him the promise of worldly wealth. His disdain for all these things grew out of that longing for purity of heart and excellence of character, and he knew that that voice which he heard behind him was more than just his own thoughts. The business centers which all favored the surface lifestyle were full of pride and pretense. Abram’s desire was for honesty, humility, modesty and a right standing before the Judge of the whole earth. He looked for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker was the Creator of that honesty and humility, for which he longed. So he gladly obeyed the command, “Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee.”
Abram, like his grandfather ten generations previous, found grace in the eyes of the Lord. Here was one who would follow after righteousness, one who could be used by God to establish a slow but sure movement to change the whole world. His spirit was so humble and responsive to heaven that Jesus confided to him His plan. “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great.” But these great blessings were not to belong to him. With joyful relief Abram heard the next part, “...And thou shalt be a blessing.” Through an example of righteousness which he would be taught, and that of his children and grandchildren, the plan of salvation for this world would swell until it covered the whole planet. There would be resistance and provocation, but truth would surely set the world free from self-gratification. Through this human medium God would be able to speak to a world trapped in the clutches of its own self-destruction. “And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee; and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” Not through extensive organizations, not through complex systems of science and sociology, not through great accomplishments and achievements of man, would the true God save the world from its downward spiral. The family structure and the principles governing its operation—faith, hope and love—would be revived as the means of bringing man up again to his original destiny of service.
Much effort and time are required by God to bind a man’s unwillingness to be subject. More so a family and very much more so a nation and a world of rebellious, conflicting sinners. Thus after four generations of struggling against the Hebrews’ own self-sufficiency, God led them down into Egypt rather than allow them to desecrate, with their half-heartedness, the holy place where God had begun His work with Abraham away from the corrupting influence of high civilization. This would be a witness through all time to demonstrate God’s design in correcting the stubbornness of man. If we persist in our own direction, God will finally give us our way; and when we are fully aware of the results of our course, then and only then does He come and save us out of the mess we have caused. The river of Zion will go down, but God can bring it up again.
Only through his own struggle against the hand of God was Moses qualified to lead Israel out of the iron grip Pharaoh had on them. During forty years they had to learn the same lessons that Moses had already spent forty years learning. But God’s purposes in uplifting “all the families of the earth” must take place. God led the nation into the wilderness, to the enemies, the snakes, the places with no water or food, places of monotony, of solitude, of primitive lifestyle. They must obey the mandates from heaven or endure the threat of being cut off from the camp, left behind to find their way back to Egyptian civilization if they were determined to go. To be a Hebrew then was to be enclosed by God and the deafening reality of Him in the surrounding creation and in all the rites and precepts commanded them. There was no escaping it. They had had a close encounter with the God of gods. They had heard Him and seen the fire of His presence, and with that came accountability.
In spite of the worldliness from Egypt, the nation learned surrender to God. They were sanctified and able to enter the old homeland in a condition that was honorable to their heavenly Leader. The Sabbath became an experience and the day held a wonderful reminder of His power to sanctify. The sanctuary implemented the strength of a pure conscience, as a system was given to them for the removal of their guilt. Once in their new land, the revolting iniquitous nations were forced out, and farming, herding, and a simple, peaceful life, bringing glory to Christ, was brought in.
During the period of the judges, the truth of earth’s beginning, the truth of the great controversy between God and Satan, the truth of the entrance of death and the state of its captives, the warning of involvement with the paganism surrounding them; all was their guide and laid the foundation for their later exaltation. In spite of the unfaithfulness to God and to each other which might arise, they retained that which kept them precious as a body of men—the Sanctuary, the Law of God, and their identification with Abraham, the one who was promised exaltation through service. They had their ups and downs, but no matter how horrible their disobedience, so long as they retained these three things, they had more than the other nations and there existed the potential for them to turn from rebellion and again be a blessing to the world.
The oracles, the laws, which formed only the framework of holiness was finally filled in with the Spirit of God when David and Solomon sat on the throne. The operation declaring God’s name was at its apex and confirmed that what God promised He could perform. The words of the queen of Sheba spoke for all who beheld this miracle kingdom, “Happy are thy men, happy are these thy servants which stand continually before thee, and that hear thy wisdom. Blessed be the Lord thy God which delighted in thee, to set thee on the throne of Israel: because the Lord loved Israel for ever, therefore made He thee king, to do judgment and justice.” 1Kings 10:8, 9. Jerusalem was a city set on a hill, which could not be hidden from the world. Exalted to world dominion, Israel ruled in fairness and created an atmosphere of good will and peace on earth.
But Israel slipped from that exalted standing, and the decline began with Solomon. He became disobedient to the structure God gave for their protection and this led him to fall away from his faith and the Spirit of God left him. Quickly he found himself unable to obey the wisdom that had poured from his own mouth as he leaned unto his own understanding.
With a few exceptions of faithfulness and zeal, the majority of Israel quickly departed from the faith once delivered to the saints. Separated from the sanctuary by a diversion in Bethel and Dan, the not-so-distant tribes to the north resigned to never venture to the true house of worship in Jerusalem. The laws which pricked the heart were neglected by them and obliterated from their conscience. Their connection with the surrounding nations strengthened and it overshadowed their admission of their connection with Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, their namesake. “When they knew God they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations and their foolish heart was darkened.” Rom. 1:21. The God of Abraham was lost to their understanding. They were no longer distinct as a nation faithful to the Creator; so He let Satan take them away, assimilating them into the rest of paganism, and they ceased to exist as a unique tribal entity. Judah demonstrated a more favorable history, but leaning on her sister for human support, she also ceased to remain loyal to her heavenly Master. Her revivals were followed by deeper apostasies until God gave His temple to the destroyers and left the world without the light of truth.
Numerous messages poured from the hearts of Isaiah and Jeremiah. “A grievous vision is declared unto me; the treacherous dealer dealeth treacherously, and the spoiler spoileth. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease. Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travaileth: I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it. My heart panted, fearfulness affrighted me...Babylon is fallen, is fallen; and all the graven images of her gods he hath broken unto the ground...Watchman what of the night? Watchman, what of the night? The watchman said, The morning cometh, and also the night.” Is. 21:2, 3, 4, 11, 12. “Behold, the Lord maketh the earth empty, and maketh it waste, and turneth it upside down, and scattereth abroad the inhabitants thereof…. The land shall be utterly emptied, and utterly spoiled: for the Lord hath spoken His word…. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore hath the curse devoured the earth, and they that dwell therein are desolate: therefore the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men left.” Is. 24:1-3, 5, 6. “The earth is utterly broken down, the earth is clean dissolved, the earth is moved exceedingly. The earth shall reel to and fro like a drunkard, and shall be removed like a cottage; and the transgression thereof shall be heavy upon it; and it shall fall, and not rise again.” Is. 24:19, 20. Yet the promise was made: “They shall be gathered together, as prisoners are gathered in the pit, and shall be shut up in the prison, and after many days shall they be visited. Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously.” Is. 24:22, 23. “And He said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not: and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. Then said I, Lord, How long? And He answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, and the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return,…so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.” Is. 6:9-13.
At the end of a long 600 year period of desolation, when the last straw of misfortune had broken the dream that the Lord countenanced their rebellious hearts, a special Person was promised for bringing Israel back to the obedience it had once known. “Behold My servant, whom I uphold; Mine elect, in whom My soul delighteth; I have put My spirit upon Him: He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles…He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till He have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for His law.” Is. 42:1-4.
Jeremiah had similar warnings of the long desolation for God’s people. “The Lord said also unto me in the days of Josiah the king, Hast thou seen that which backsliding Israel hath done? she is gone up upon every high mountain and under every green tree, and there hath played the harlot. And I said after she had done all these things, Turn thou unto me. But she returned not. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it. And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto Me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord. And the Lord said unto me, The backsliding Israel hath justified herself more than treacherous Judah. Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, Return, thou backsliding Israel, saith the Lord; and I will not cause Mine anger to fall upon you: for I am merciful, saith the Lord, and I will not keep anger for ever. Only acknowledge thine iniquity, that thou hast transgressed against the Lord thy God, and hast scattered thy ways to the strangers under every green tree, and ye have not obeyed My voice, saith the Lord. Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion: and I will give you pastors according to Mine heart, which shall feed you with knowledge and understanding. And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more. At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for a inheritance unto your fathers.” Jer. 3:6-18. “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at my very heart; my heart maketh a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, because thou hast heard, O my soul, the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war. Destruction upon destruction is cried; for the whole land is spoiled: suddenly are my tents spoiled, and my curtains in a moment. How long shall I see the standard and hear the sound of the trumpet? For My people is foolish, they have not know Me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. I beheld the earth, and, lo, it was without form, and void; and the heavens, and they had no light. I beheld the mountains, and, lo, they trembled, and all the hills moved lightly. I beheld, and, lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the heavens were fled. I beheld, and, lo, the fruitful place was a wilderness, and all the cities thereof were broken down at the presence of the Lord, and by His fierce anger. For thus hath the Lord said, The whole land shall be desolate; yet will I not make a full end.” Jer. 4:19-27. “Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and see now, and know, and seek in the broad places thereof, if ye can find a man, if there be any that executeth judgment, and seeketh the truth; and I will pardon it. And though they say, The Lord liveth; surely they swear falsely. O Lord, are not thine eyes upon the truth? thou hast stricken them, but they have not grieved; thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction: they have made their faces harder than a rock; they have refused to return. Therefore I said, Surely these are poor; they are foolish: for they know not the way of the Lord, nor the judgment of their God. I will get me unto the great men, and will speak unto them; for they have known the way of the Lord, and the judgment of their God: but these have altogether broken the yoke, and burst the bonds. Wherefore a lion out of the forest shall slay them, and a wolf of the evenings shall spoil them, a leopard shall watch over their cities: every one that goeth out thence shall be torn in pieces: because their transgressions are many, and their backslidings are increased.” Jer. 5:1-6. “For thus saith the Lord, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon Me, and ye shall go and pray unto Me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek Me, and find Me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the Lord: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the Lord; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.” Jer. 29:10-14.
Like dominoes the kingdoms of vanity fell and were removed, and the holy land was finally at rest. And while some of the children of Judah had not partaken in the general apostasy, every person marched the hundreds of miles in chains to Babylon. There, Daniel and his three friends were set apart from the other Hebrew nobles because they followed the laws that had been forsaken by the captive nation of Judah. For Daniel and his friends one blessing followed another as they learned the rewards of obedience to Jehovah.
For seventy years Daniel served among men opposed to the pure principles of righteousness given to the Hebrews. During that time he longed for the restoration of the temple and throne of Israel. How much longer for the desolation of Israel? was ever on his mind. Without the temple to present the peace of heaven, the curse of God lay heavier and heavier on the earth. In the final year of Belshazzar, with the kingdom rotting out from underneath him, Daniel saw a vision of the future purposes of God in the earth. Babylon was soon to be destroyed by the Medes. Then Greece would rise and afterward an unnamed kingdom which would oppress God’s people.
No word was given that Israel would ever return to world dominion. In this curious vision was related a king of fierce countenance and understanding dark sentences; in this vision the great Prince of princes was also seen being attacked, along with the casting down and stamping upon of the hosts of heaven. It was indicated that, notwithstanding the great wickedness seen in the current corrupt empire of Belshazzar, transgression had not as yet come to the full. Even more disturbing was what he saw during an intermission of the vision. Two angels were speaking of the great apostasy under review and one asked the other, “How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden underfoot?” And the answer came, “Unto 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.” Dan. 8:13, 14.
This time prophecy was in apparent collision with the vision two years previous concerning the same issues. “And he shall speak great words against the Most High, and shall wear out the saints of the Most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of time.” Dan. 7:25. 1,260 years of desolation for Israel, or 2,300 years? Thus Daniel was utterly confounded and in his empty search for the future of the re-establishment of righteousness on earth he saw only a faint gleam of hope at the end of some long period of darkness. Then in the first year of the Medo-Persian empire, Daniel discovered Jeremiah’s prophecy of a seventy-year captivity for Judah. This triggered him to seek God in behalf of his people and for himself, that God would pardon them for all their woeful past. “O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto Thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither Thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against Thee…. To the Lord our God belong mercies and forgiveness, though we have rebelled against Him; neither have we obeyed the voice of the Lord our God, to walk in His laws, which He set before us by His servants the prophets…” Dan. 9:7-10.
Before he could finish his confessions, the word of the Lord came. “O Daniel,” said Gabriel, “I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding…Therefore understand the matter, and consider the vision. Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, and to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” Dan. 9:22-24. Here we can detect a dual purpose of this time prophecy: 1) a second chance, one last opportunity, given to Judah as a nation, to follow the laws and keep the covenant of God; and 2) the Messiah finally to come. Messiah was that Servant spoken of in Isaiah (chap. 42 and 53). He was that Prophet like Moses mentioned in Deuteronomy (18:15). He was Shiloh and “the Seed” of Genesis (49:10; 3:15). He was the one of whom David was a type, typified in Isaiah (9:7) and in Jeremiah (33:21). He was to come to establish judgment in the earth and to magnify the Law. The Lawgiver from Sinai was to come in person, somehow, someway. Then He was to bear the sin of many and make intercession for the transgressors. Daniel understood one last chance remained for the Jews to make an end of sins in preparation for the great event and then the sacrifices again would end and the abomination of desolation would play out. (Dan. 9:26, 27).
Another desolation to come! 70 years, 490 years, 1,260 years, 2,300 years! How much more could this world take? Daniel fasted for three weeks and lay in sackcloth and ashes to mourn the distressing news. Many years of defilement lay between the end of the system of sacrifice and oblation and the promised cleansing of the sanctuary. Who was that cruel king who could end the only means of propitiation of God, of revival and conversion in the hearts of men? How dark would earth become without a single clear voice of sanctified conscience?
But what about the promises of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel? “…For though thy people Israel be as the sand of the sea, yet a remnant of them shall return: the consumption decreed shall overflow with righteousness. For the Lord God of hosts shall make a consumption, even determined, in the midst of all the land.” Is. 10:22, 23. “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people… and … they shall all know Me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” Jer. 31:33, 34. “I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and I will bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean:…A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep My judgments, and do them. And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be My people, and I will be your God.” Ez. 36:24-28. Gabriel explained to Daniel that 490 years after the rebuilding of Jerusalem the rebellion plaguing the cause of God would be removed completely, but only a small part would be saved—a tenth, if that. The rest would be cut off from the privilege of the special covenant with God.
The prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel looked like they were fulfilled in the revival and reformation under Ezra and Nehemiah. A revival did occur during the rebuilding of city and temple, but this quickly died again at the passing of those humble servants, and the religious leaders fell into vanity again and reared up their own imagined continued revival. No, the truth lay in the words of Gabriel that Daniel strained to comprehend, a prophecy that would be sealed from the nation. In His grace, the Lord God gave them another opportunity to prepare for judgment, knowing that their eyes were already too blinded and their ears deafened to truth. The true fulfillment would occur at the end of the 490 years, beginning at the 69th week of years, at the baptism of John. “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” Is. 40:1, 2.
To this true revival of the prophets’ real Remnant of Israel, which would include not only the Jews and dispersed ten tribes of Israel but also Gentiles, all who would receive it, Paul attests when he declared, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love: having predestinated
us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will… Having made known unto us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He hath purposed in Himself:...in whom we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated
according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of His own will…in whom ye also trusted after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.” Eph. 1:3-5, 9-11, 13-14. “For whom He did foreknow
, He also did predestinate
to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom He did predestinate
, them He also called: and whom He called, them He also justified: and whom He justified, them He also glorified.” Rom. 8:29, 30. Being that Messiah had not yet come during the centuries preceding the end of the 70 week prophecy, the true revival and return of Israel to God could not truly occur until then, in spite of the façade of the religious leaders. Instead, the apostolic church at the end of the 490 years truly fulfilled the prophecies. The ancient “kingdom of priests,” and “holy nation” (Ex. 19:5, 6) was reincorporated anew into “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy
, but now have obtained mercy.” 1 Pet. 2:9, 10. We cannot argue with the claims of Peter, Paul, and John when they apply the promises of the Old Testament scriptures to the apostolic revival of what they termed the “present” “Israel of God.”
To the rest of the nation, the contemptible revival that poured upon them was “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed
.” Vs. 8. “And the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it.” Is. 28:17, 18. Paul further clarifies what had so recently happened. “Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Rom. 11:11. As a corporate body, the nation of Israel “fell,” they “stumbled,” they “were diminished,” they “were cast away” and rejected by God to show the “severity” of His displeasure. But through that experience some would come to terms with God’s expectations. The rejection of the Jews, as God’s spiritual depository to the world, was designed not only to startle them into repentance, but also to permit the Gentiles entrance into a knowledge of God whom the Jews had forbade. (Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.) As Paul wrote, “the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world.” Vs. 15.
“I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some
of them.” Vs. 13, 14. Paul makes it clear that God cast away His people, rejecting them as a nation, not rejecting them as individuals. They were not all
cast away, for Paul himself was proof of that. “I say then, hath God cast away [all
] His people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew
.” Rom 11:1, 2. Since the beginning of man, the real Zion consisted of the core, “them that turn from transgression in Jacob.” Is. 59:20. The Jews who received the gospel were the true children of God who would turn from rebellion, whom God had seen down the portal of time. “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel; neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children.... That is, they which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God,” but the children of faith are counted for the true seed. Rom. 9:6-8. They were that tenth, the promised remnant prophesied by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel. “At this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace.” They, “if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.” Vs. 5, 23.
The election of grace was hidden in the promises of the prophets, foretold but not explicitly explained. It was not explained because it could not be comprehended. If described, it would have been distorted by unconverted rabbis and the New Dispensation aborted. The beautiful and simple ritual law had become corrupted beyond all effectiveness and was discarded as a mentruous cloth by heaven. The new covenant gospel must be protected until its revelation to the world in the New Dispensation. Now Paul saw the Gospel eclipsing an old ceremonial system, corrupted by the pagan world and decayed by centuries of unbelief in the ministers of the true altar. Yet he saw it saving some of them, and then spreading to encompass all the groups that ever departed from the truth, from the days of Noah to our day, until all God’s remnant, wherever they might dwell, would hear and turn to heaven and join the commonwealth of Israel transferred to the church. (Acts 4:33-35). “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” And then Jesus would purify through tribulation and personally retrieve His church; “and so all Israel shall be saved…‘when I shall take away their sins.’” Vs. 25-27.
But, in spite of God’s reclaiming His citizens for His Earth made new, Paul also discerned an apostasy on the horizon for the Dispensation of grace. Against all his efforts to stem the mystery of iniquity, he wept that his precious gospel must also be corrupted. He was familiar with Daniel’s prophecies and had insight to their meaning in view of the phenomenal revival he had been part of. He warned the Roman saints, “Be not highminded but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.” Paul put out every form of disobedience and trained others to do the same, “Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” Heb. 12:15. He counseled, trained, chastened, provoked; he worked hard to stir up the people of God to fortify them against the battle to come. And his writings are the legacy which have brought God’s people through to our day.
To the Thessalonians Paul gave an interpretation of Daniel’s fearful visions. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day (of Christ’s return) shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition… For the mystery of iniquity doth already work.” 2Thess. 2:3, 7. And anyone who would give in to the current apostasy of Paul’s day would continue to do so, until, like the dispersion of Israel, he was taken out of the election of grace. Concurrently, the political Roman Empire would remain in place, holding back, as it were, the next great empire, the apostatized Christian church. Then God, at the end, would send a great delusion and lying spirits; that all who had joined in to soil the greatest gift to mankind might be damned and destroyed by the brightness of His coming.
This apostasy developing in Paul’s day was the 3½ year prophecy that Daniel had been given, when the beast power “shall wear out the saints of the most High, and think to change times and laws: and they shall be given into his hand until a time and times and the dividing of times.” Dan. 7:25. The apostle John also was given the vision of this beast which attempted to destroy the intercessory work of Messiah. The Son was born and escaped His murderer and was caught up to God and to heaven. A war then commenced in heaven and the Dragon drew the worst part of the host of God and cast them to the earth. This symbolized the backsliding church standing on the side of the Dragon for 1,260 years. (Revelation 12).
Again in the New Dispensation, the true character of God and an intimate relationship with Him was trampled under foot. Christianity took on the features of cruelty and self-sufficiency. The very heaven-sent cure for pagan self-indulgence became the source allowing it and claiming that God doesn’t so much mind the unconsecrated life. The words of Jesus, “Be ye therefore perfect” transformed into the philosophy “Nobody is perfect!” The best way to hide something is to put it right out in the open, and Satan completely hid the gospel from Christendom while they claimed to reverence it. For over a thousand years Christianity suffered this tragedy while the sciences fell behind and the Dark Ages began. The national governments were limited in their sovereignty and power because the papal father corralled them in his holy arms, and, taking advantage of their ignorance of God, forced them to submit their strength to him. Tribute to the pope was the dues they owed for his prayers for God’s continued blessing. All the while they were hoodwinked as he grew richer and more powerful than they. Not a soul throughout Europe during those long centuries heard the good word, “Come unto Me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” The sweet call of the Spirit never came from the pulpit. Conversion, true repentance, the transformation by God, were forgotten treasures. None were admonished to good works through the power of the authoritative word of God; rather, worship consisted of a round of rituals using a tongue of an empire long extinct. The age-long conclusion was that that was good enough and that nothing more was expected of religion. Held in ignorance, the stifled nations conceived of nothing better and were held as pawns to the enslavement of the ruling class, who were enslaved by the religious leaders.
Mary, Peter, Paul, John, James and a myriad of other individuals were venerated. When, in Christ’s day, the rich young ruler attempted to venerate Jesus with the flattering words, “Good Master,” Jesus, the royal Son of God, turned away from the aggrandizement, apparently disclaiming His own Godship. Nicodemus said, “Master, we know you are a teacher sent from God…” and Jesus simply replied, “Ye must be born again.” Jesus did not come here to pamper or to be pampered. He came not to fall down and worship a man, nor did He expect that from anyone. He taught His disciples, “If I your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.” “So careful was the great Healer to direct attention from Himself to the Source of His power, that the wondering multitude, ‘when they saw the dumb to speak, the maimed to be whole, the lame to walk, and the blind to see,’ did not glorify Him but ‘glorified the God of Israel
.’ Matt. 15:31.” Prophets and Kings p. 69 (Emphasis supplied). Like the religious leaders in Christ’s day, the pontiffs fixed a great gulf between the Son of God and themselves. They were the antithesis of the One they professed to follow. Christ said, I am not God, but He was. They claimed to stand in for God, vicariously reigning in His stead and presenting His image to the world, even at one point accepting the praise of “God on earth,” but they were not. They were just the opposite of everything Jesus stands for. They were anti-Christ.
Paul saw all this coming. He told the people on his last journey, “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which He hath purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20:28-31. Paul reminded them of what Daniel had seen, “I considered the horns, and, behold, there came up among them another little horn, before whom were three of the first horns plucked up by the roots: and, behold, in this horn were eyes like the eyes of man, and a mouth speaking great things.” “Then I would know the truth…of that horn that had eyes, and a mouth that spake very great things, whose look was more stout than his fellows…. Thus he said, The fourth beast shall be the fourth kingdom upon the earth, which shall be diverse from all kingdoms and shall devour the whole earth, and shall tread it down, and break it in pieces.... And he shall speak great words against the most High.” Dan. 7:8, 19, 20, 23, 25. “And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, and His tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven.” “And power was given unto him to continue forty and two months.” Rev. 13:6, 5.
But this beast power would receive a wound by a sword. The Word of God, the sword of the Spirit, was brought forth from its prison behind church walls. The Protestant Reformation rose up and slew the giant papal power. Through the simple presentation of the truth of God’s character and mercy, Europe shook off the chains that the imposters had placed upon it. Relying wholly upon the arm of God the Reformers faced the dangerous opposition of the Vicar of Christ. Each burning martyr drove the stake deeper into the heart of the papacy until its power was completely lost, for a time, to Europe. The movements of those early years of the 16th century resulted in the establishment of Protestant America as a stronghold against papist imperialism. The vibrancy of America, in spite of its faultiness, has stood as the one obstacle to Roman Papal supremacy, and that beast power has chomped at the bit to this day. The providences of God fulfilled His own prophecy. Through subterfuge, however, the papacy has almost returned to its former superiority. Protestants are being convinced to give up their God-given birthright and now they are falling before their papal enemy which God had put under their feet.
Thus the Reformation of the 16th century finalized the prophecy of the 1,260 year trampling of the saints. Yet there remains one last time period spoken of by Daniel: the 2,300 year prophecy, the re-establishment of the daily service of the Sanctuary, the played out demonstration of the plan of salvation, and the true representation of heaven. The beauty of the Old Testament scenes took its watchers far beyond the mundane cares of this life. The purity, the obedience, the modesty of the priests, the order, the overall humility in its design touched every heart willing to respond to the Author of love. “O how I love Thy law! It is my meditation all the day.” “And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Ps. 119:97; 23:6. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion: in the secret of His tabernacle shall He hide me; He shall set me up upon a rock. And now shall mine head be lifted up above mine enemies round about me: therefore will I offer in His tabernacle sacrifices of joy; I will sing, yea, I will sing praises unto the Lord.” Ps. 27:4-6. David here intimates that to dwell in the temple was to dwell in wonder and awe of God’s will and to abide under His control. It meant the essence of the Christian experience, a millennium before Christ, in the supposed dark ages of the “barbaric” and “legalistic” Old Testament! Reiterating David, John wrote, “He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God and God in Him.” “Hereby know we that we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit.” 1Jn. 4:16, 13. “The everlasting covenant” of the Old Testament is
“the everlasting gospel” of the New. Is. 24:5; Rev. 14:6.
Thus with the revival of the daily on-going relationship with God within the apostolic church came the reappearance of the Old Testament gift of prophecy. The church had answered the promise of a remnant of Israel in all respects. The “holy men of old” who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” were seen again in the church of God. 2Pet. 1:21. “And it shall come to pass afterward
, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out My spirit.” Joel. 2:28-29. Concerning the strange events on the day of Pentecost, declared Peter, “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” Acts 2:16.
At the end of Daniel’s 2,300 years, with the restoration of the experience of salvation through communion, the gift of prophecy would again be the inevitable byproduct. Another remnant was envisioned by John beyond the 1,260 year prophecy
in Revelation chapter 12. At the cleansing of the sanctuary, the apostolic revival, the pure system of obedience on earth, would be reestablished, replete with the Sabbath rest and the spirit to prophesy, or “the testimony of Jesus.” Rev. 12:17. The revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the days of the apostles was given to that group which repeated the unpopular prophecies and reproofs of Daniel and Revelation in preparing the world for the second advent of Christ. Seen in the pageant of John, they were to “rise, and measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein.” Rev. 11:1. Principle by principle, precept upon precept, the Adventists collected all the original truths that had been handed down through the ages since Adam, but which had been lost in the papal darkness, regained by the Reformation, and scattered among the various denominations. Like the rebuilding in Ezra’s day, the Adventists, represented by the cleansed sanctuary, stood forth ready for the exit of the great High Priest from the heavenly Most Holy Place. The high standards given to the original group that erected the first tabernacle in the wilderness were again given to their anti-type and the Adventists stood preparing for the personal, literal return of Jesus as He had promised.
As the revival of Paul’s day compared to the “remnant” of Moses’ revival, so the Adventist revival compared to the remnant of Paul’s revival. See Rom. 9:27,28; Rev. 12:17. Every revival has ended in apostasy, each remnant has its own remnant. It happened to Enos’ revival, it happened to Enoch’s. It happened to Noah’s, Abraham’s, Moses’ and David’s. It happened to Ezra and Paul, it happened to Luther and the Wesleys. And it has happened to James and Ellen White. The spirit may be willing but the flesh is weak. Up and down, in and out, the weakened will of man for righteousness has been so fickle. The Adventists were raised up to rebuild the desecrated sanctuary and to recapture the story of the battle that had raged during the Christian falling away. But something bad happens to them like all the others before them. “The beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them...And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.” Rev. 11: 7, 10. “While the Bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.” Matt. 25:5.
Just like Israel of old, the group who received the Law of God in the 1840’s, but became disobedient to it, have found themselves without God’s benediction like “a wild bull in a net.” “They are full of the fury of the Lord, the rebuke of thy God.” Is. 51:20. But their time of desolation will come to an end. When the Adventists are finally ready to be obedient, the words will again be fulfilled: “Therefore hear now this, thou afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: thus saith thy Lord the Lord, and thy God that pleadeth the cause of His people, Behold, I have taken out of thine hand the cup of trembling, even the dregs of the cup of My fury; thou shalt no more drink it again: but I will put it into the hand of them that afflict thee; which have said to thy soul, Bow down, that we may go over: and thou hast laid thy body as the ground, and as the street, to them that went over.” “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, O Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into thee the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake thyself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus saith the Lord, Ye have sold yourselves
for nought; and ye shall be redeemed without money.... Now therefore, what have I here, saith the Lord, that My people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the Lord; and My name continually every day is blasphemed. Therefore My people shall know My name: therefore they shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.” Is. 51:20-23; 52:1-6.
This is no time to be throwing stones at the Lord’s anointed bride. “And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them. And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.” Rev. 11:11-13.
Like the tribe of Judah preserving the truth contained in the Hebrew religion, Adventism carries forward the true spirit of Protestantism. They possess the holy oracles from God in the pillars laid by their pioneers. History, through the providence of God, is repeating itself. Due to the war raging over the ownership of humanity, the cause of truth, carried by mere men, waxes and wanes. Each bright spot in history is a guidepost forming a line of direction pointing out the purposes of God. Satan’s efforts are to destroy those places in history which can be used for guidance for us in these dark times. If we lose hold of these we will be a ship without rudder or anchor, tossed to and fro and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness. Adventists, though many do not appreciate it, have the correct relation between scriptures and the true interpretation of history through the knowledge of the great controversy. Among all of Protestantism, their books alone hold on to the original tradition and structure given by heaven to Adam and Noah, and Moses and Paul, whether or not the people obey it or savour it. In the library of the Spirit of Prophecy they have the ark of God; but few realize its holiness, and but few will be saved by the truth in it. Regardless of their unfaithfulness, however, (and ours) we must not reject the oracles. Adventism is the last bastion of truth—Adventism in its pure form, straight from the testimonies and instruction of God’s last prophet. If we find ourselves becoming disenchanted with the people of God we need to remember that we are all slumbering and sleeping
while the Bridegroom tarries to see who will choose His righteousness or their rebellion. Let’s remember, according to Revelation chapter 3, that an aroused Laodicea is the last church. We need to heed Paul’s admonitions to certain individuals who wanted to bust loose from the bondage of the established religion: “Be not highminded, but fear...Lest He also spare not thee,” and, “Be of the same mind toward one another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.” “Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.” “Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.” “Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer.” Rom. 11:20, 21;12:16, 15, 12. And let’s remember the humility of David who said to his men, concerning the envious and murderous King Saul,“The Lord forbid that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the Lord.” 1Sam 24:6. But we, “speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.” “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.” Eph. 4:15, 13. Then we too may one day stand on the sea of glass mingled with fire, there without blame or fault before God, and “sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,” (Rev. 15:3) a part in a river of multitudes, nations, tongues and peoples, all of whom had gone down into the depths of sin and unbelief, but whom Christ was able to bring up again to Himself.