Newness Of Life

The good news of God’s kingdom is that through Christ He is always doing a new work, and in Christ He is making all things new. For that which is old is passed away, and that which is passed away can sustain no man in the ongoing work of God. The Lord walks onward, calling men to “Follow Me,” and gives little time to the hesitant.

Only an abiding movement in He who abides forever, the Word of the Lord, even the Son of God, is able to keep us walking in His newness; “For behold,” He says: “I do a new thing… Behold: I make all things new.”

A race is not finished or won by simply acknowledging that the finish line is already behind us at the starting point, and so we need not run. He who does not run the race to cross the “it is finished” line for himself is disqualified. The Spirit will not empower the pilgrim who desires no progress. The doctrine of our faith reveals itself vain in a life which possesses not the faith itself to manifest the ready obedience of one who loves God and the brethren. Our participation in the Body and Blood of Christ is not merely passive but also active. The same Apostle Paul who used the illustration of a race is also he who wrote, “Forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth…” There is a Rest into which we fail to enter apart from striving to enter into it. There is a spiritual maturity, or even true Life itself, that may be left untouched for a lifetime by being content with what is behind. In Paul’s case, those things were mostly religious credentials, and what men tend to perceive as spiritual acumen worthy of praise. No doubt these also became even his accomplishments as an apostle of Christ.

The Greek word Paul uses for “forgetting” means…

Forgetting.

Things which are forgotten are things which have no bearing upon a man’s decisions going forward; and hold not even a peripheral sway over his lightest considerations. He who forgets is free of the things forgotten. He who cannot walk as though former things are forgotten has not fully dealt with the matters of his inner heart before the Lord. Whether they be matters of outright sin or matters of pride in a good spiritual estate; the Lord would have every man walk with humble simplicity in what is newly set before their feet by the light of the Spirit.

The man who continually deals with God in all his inner motives, thoughts, and intentions remains a free vessel, at liberty for honorable use in God’s house. The man who neglects the stewarding of his own heart becomes unable to contain the ever new wine of the vintage of Life, and fades into a life of paralysis and defeat.

The still and quiet whispers of the Spirit of Christ are the invitation into a broader walk in the true calling of each one. Let every heart hear and walk after He who calls them.

Quote – George H. Warnock

“…God is faithful to visit His people from time to time; and we rejoice in that. But this rejoicing must be tempered with an awesome fear of God in our midst, without which the move of God will cease. But somehow we learn to cope without God’s presence and can continue doing the things the Spirit taught us, but now we do it by our own abilities. No longer is the Lord Jesus Himself, the Lord in our midst. We must learn that the manner in which God may have moved is not to become a mould for our gathering and keep trying to fit God’s people into that mould.

– George H. Warnock

Anatomy Of A Fall – Ezekiel 28

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18



In a day of much going to-and-fro, in a day of the increase of knowledge and of what many falsely call “wisdom,” it behoves us to never lose sight of the cause of every fall, and the root of all wickedness.

The scriptures have set forth as an example before us the fall of the Covering Cherub, Son of the Dawn as he was properly called at one time; from which we ourselves are given a warning through the manner of his fall, and insight as to the source of his corruption.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created until unrighteousness was found in you.
Ezekiel 28:15 (NASB)

The words of Ezekiel reveal to us that this heavenly being was blameless in all his ways from the day he was created. God makes nothing unrighteous. No wickedness, no corruption, nor any moral evil, results from His design. That which arises contrary within them are derived from a turning of their will away from His good purpose, which, in turn, curses their generations also.

[We only see that the Lord “creates evil” and “forms darkness,” as the prophet Isaiah expressed, in the sense of letting loose upon the wicked the very calamity inherent within their crooked ways – this action on His part is not a moral evil, but only an “evil” in the sense of what we might call “evil tidings”: an omen of great trouble and righteous judgement upon the workers of iniquity. (See Isaiah 45:7 KJV)]

For He entrusted His creatures from the beginning to learn righteousness, after having created them blameless; perhaps similar to the way in which Jesus Himself would come to learn righteousness from infancy as an inherently blameless man – though His case differs in that His being very God assured no possibility of a fall on His part; so that through faith we might share in the blameless nature of His righteous blood.

Therefore, see how the corruption of Lucifer is described: “unrighteousness was found in you.” Unrighteousness is not a thing created by the fallen one, nor is evil an existing force which he came to embrace; yet iniquity came to be “found” in him. For God’s whole creation was blameless, and everything about it; but not having yet been perfected, there remained a capacity for the creature to deny the Creator’s art of perfecting, and and in so denying, to become what appeared to be a foul mark upon the canvas of His universe, and what sounded to be a dissident chord in the symphony of His magnum opus – what horror! For faith was always that through which the grace of God would perfect His creation; but the innovations of the self-reliant heart, puffed up in its self-percieved achievement and insight, have ever since been the undoing of faith within the creature, causing it to wander from the grace which sustained it, bringing forth sin unto death. “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” And so we ought always to be mindful that pride is the root of all evil.

Thus, in describing the fall of Lucifer through Ezekiel, the Lord reveals the innovations of pride in its self-reliance:

By the abundance of your trade you were internally filled with violence, and you sinned; therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.
Ezekiel 28:16a (NASB)

“By the abundance of your trade” – Some translations render “trade” as “merchandising”. The proud heart takes what God has graciously bestowed only to make a name for itself and to turn the gift into a means of profiting over others. There is no greater a mockery of God’s grace than to put any price upon it less than that of the Life of His Son. And so this is precisely what the false prophets do in following after their father the Devil. They remove from men the only way to the kingdom of heaven through the incentivizing of self-deception, not even entering in themselves; having traded the Life of the Son for the false wisdom of the fallen Cherub: the enlightenment of self-exalting wisdom over the Life of God found in humility through faith.

“…you were (became) internally filled with violence, and you sinned…” – The exaltation of self over the plan of God and the seeing of His fellow creatures through the lens of personal agendas is always at their expense; and the more grand one’s opinion of one’s own insight, the more inflated will be the sense of entitlement to climb and grasp over the heads of others for that which has not been granted of God. The further a soul travels down this path, the more senseless he becomes to casually neglecting the good of another or violating their dignity without conscience. The more righteous he deems his own cause, though it be not God’s, the more he will tend to think himself the righteous hand of God’s vengeance upon those who inconvenience his vision for the world around him. He will use his gifts and everything within his power to do violence, whether directly or indirectly, to those whom he has made his enemies; though none asked to be such. Every spiritual matter becomes to him a competition of unrighteous jealousy, though he will not admit it; and so in his mind he accuses everyone else of the very hypocrisy of which he is truly most guilty.

And how did this unrighteous jealousy arise? We may have an insight by the name “Lucifer” itself. His name means light bringer, and describes a truly noble trait. He was made to radiate a measure of true light bestowed upon him by God. But what did God say in the beginning when He laid the foundations of the earth? “Let there be light!” The scripture tells us that at this time, “the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” For this unapproachable light, which was at that moment revealed through the spoken word of of God before His heavenly creatures, had no equal; and it was not to be fully comprehended by any except He from whom it proceeded. It may have been this first revelation of the Light of the World which provoked the light bringer to jealousy, not accepting his rightful place.

In any case, through the Word of God such light has gone forth that no darkness can overcome it, and the fate of all the unrighteousness that sprang forth thence was forever sealed from its very inception. All that the Father has willed and designed is of such perfect wisdom and prudence that even when His creatures should rebel, the ultimate undoing of their evil schemes is seeded within the schemes themselves. What first appeared as a foul mark upon the Master’s canvas has been enshrined in the beauty of His victory over it to show forth His untold wisdom in the reconciliation of the redeemed; and what first sounded as a dissident chord in the Great Composer’s symphony has been transposed within the richness of its manifold harmonies to pay tribute to His glory. His light shines forth into all the kosmos, and its purpose shall not ever be impeded. There is no darkness at all in God; and by its very nature, no darkness can abide in His presence.

“…therefore I have cast you as profane from the mountain of God.” – In scripture, the “mountain of God” is the place of the meeting of His assembly, or His “divine council” (Psalm 82, 1Kings 22:19-22). So to cast the fallen one from this place denotes the worthlessness of his new-found “wisdom”. God needs no counsellor; therefore the wisdom of those sons of God which sit at His council are considered not for their wisdom over God, but for their unique expression of the wisdom that is from God. And that wisdom is “first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.” But such was not the attitude of he who became enamoured with himself over that which was the gift of God.

Therefore the Lord says of the one who squandered this highest of heavenly privilege, becoming a creature of darkness and falsity:

And I have destroyed you, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.
Ezekiel 28:16 (NASB)

“I have destroyed you from…” – today we find this a curious turn of phrase. We know that the one undergoing this punishment was not unmade; therefore we might say that this “destroying from” denotes such an utter separation of the condemned from his designated place, such a cleansing of the temple from its unworthy inhabitant, that the temple itself reflects no trace of him ever having occupied its space, nor even so much as having breathed its air. He has been so completely removed from his original place, that were the temple of God a sentient being, its pillars would have no memory of his walking between them, nor its blessed walls remember so much as an echo of the former songs of his devising.

But new are the feet of them that now walk between its pillars, and new shall ever be the songs which resound through the courts of heaven; for the True Conductor arranged His masterpiece, and has only begun to strike its first notes through the mouths of the redeemed. Let us therefore be quick in faith and constant in humility, as mere instruments laying hold of the sweet melody of His grace.

For consider the Devil, and see from what a great height he fell:

“…from the midst of the stones of fire.” – How heavy are these words, and how frightening should they be to us all! Who has seen the stones of fire, much less walked in their midst? Wouldn’t such status be reserved for one great in the knowledge of the holy? And wouldn’t such a place also sanctify the one occupying it ever the more swiftly, so as to become immune to all vanity? Yet one who dwelt in such a radiance of holiness has indeed become vain. Therefore let no man suppose himself to be without the possibility danger, presuming upon the grace of God: within which presumption lie the very seeds of pride.

And so the Lord says,

Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.
Ezekiel 28:17a (NASB)

Here at last we come to the heart of the matter. The anointed cherub possessed true divine beauty and had lain hold of true Godly wisdom, so much so that they are described as your beauty… your knowledge” – which he had attained by the grace of God, and surely knew it once. Hence, it was not for any lack of these that he fell, nor even for a lack of knowing from whence they had proceeded.

But the test of every soul, from which even this mighty one was not exempt, is the test of a grateful devotion; which makes no idol of the increase of heavenly splendor within itself, but only glorifies He whose grace bestows its continued sustenance. The failure inherent within the sin of pride is the failure to continue by the grace of God. It was the failure of Lucifer to say in his heart “Thy grace is sufficient for me: Thy strength is made perfect in my weakness.” For even the heavenly creature which has always lived without blame is fully and forever indebted to the Lord of Hosts for every gift bestowed upon it, being weak apart from God, and grows in its consecration according to its humble offerings of thanksgiving.

Ah, but what did this one begin to do in light of the unsearchable riches of God’s abundant gifts?

“Your heart was lifted up because of your beauty…” – This marks the beginning of sinful pride. The effect produced has become gloried in above the One through whom it was ever possible. The heart has turned from He who gave it every good thing unto congratulating its own capacity for those good things to abide within it. “Surely,” he reasons within himself, “I have come to sustain this splendor, which the Lord graciously bestowed upon me, according to my own tendancy for righteousness, by which I have learned to walk.” But have you not seen, O fallen one, how that righteous tendancy in itself is a yet greater gift, for which you ought to fall down in humble adoration before the Giver of such grace upon grace? But you have seized upon it to make much of your splendor rather than of He through whom your splendor was given: therefore it has been stripped away; and you are left to crawl in its absence, and to deceive by the false light which you have since contrived.

“You corrupted your wisdom by reason of your splendor.” – In saying that his wisdom became corrupted, it is revealed that his wisdom was once uncorrupt. It was not his wisdom that corrupted him, but rather the attitude in which he began to hold it. We see here his wisdom described as the cause for his splendor, or the good soil from which righteousness had bloomed to splendidly array him in the clean garments of heavenly beauty. Yet “by reason of” this resultant splendor, the wisdom from which it had flowed became corrupted.

Yet isn’t the splendor a good thing? We have no reason to believe that it it wasn’t. What then is meant by the phrase, “by reason of your splendor”? Simply put, the lifting up of the cherub’s heart was seemingly justified to his proud mind because of his elevated wisdom. He considered the possession of wisdom, which was manifest in his splendor, to be a justification to feel entitled to walk in a path of his own making, to sing a melody in praise of his own sanctity, and to have a kingdom unto himself. For as we have already established, he had begun to see his beauty as a grace not of God, but of his own worthiness – though at first he may not have said it even to himself this way, as self-deception works with great subtlety.

So it is not the abundance of wisdom in itself that brought him to this self-justifying posture of heart; for we know that had he truly consulted the heavenly wisdom – which he indeed possessed – he would have found it rebuking all such thoughts. But he who has committed to a path of self-reliance must by necessity heed no warning against it, though wisdom has called out to him at every turn.

Therefore, those which rebel against the Living God must lie and must continue to lie – primarily to themselves, “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.” And those who so lie, and do not relent in their self-deception, build an entire world about themselves; which they themselves come to believe with such a sincerity that their false light appears as divine as the holy angels unto those who are likewise quick to trust their own hearts, not being grounded in the Truth. Thus the Devil is called by Christ the father of lies; for he was first to lie, and he precedes all others in spinning a web of lies to defend himself against the inevitability of the truth. Hence, his lies are of the most primary and essential untruth and unreality; since he contended at first with all of heaven against He in whom and according to whom is all truth.

And so, because he came to contradict the One whose very Name is The Truth, the very manner of his fall has become the lie, and has been falsely conveyed by his nameless whispers to the ears of all men, that they may sympathize with him as the misunderstood victim of an unjust God.

Therefore, lest such a deception be left with any excuse in the world, the punishment of God is perfect:

I cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, that they may see you.
Ezekiel 28:17b (NASB)

The ultimate fruit of sinful pride is shame and exposure. The casting down of the fallen cherub is a warning, especially to rulers – but indeed to every man – that the Lord will share no glory with another, and cannot be fooled by the hypocrite. God has revealed this to every heart, so that the more any man puffs himself up, the more conviction of the truth he must suppress in unrighteousness, and the more he must lie to himself in order to evade the hound of repentance which seeks to bear down upon him. And that gift of repentance is not granted to the fallen angels, some of whom Christ visited in prison to declare His victory; but only among men has He become incarnate: so that the hordes of the Devil are vicious toward men, seeking always to subvert their course to salvation. But the Lord has set His Day of vengeance, and He will not delay.

So let the kings renounce any allegiance to the accuser of the brethren, whereby they seek the destruction of God’s people; for he will always betray their trust, and they will find him only to be a purveyor of death to them. O kings, O judges, O legislators: do you not see him who was cast to the ground, who was made to partake in dust? His fall is set before you, and you know it within your own hearts. The same shall be your lot if you do not pay obesience to the Son of God.

For He is full of mercy, and abounding in steadfast love; but He will not leave the guilty unpunished. By him kings both rule and fall. It is He that overturns the kings from their thrones and rips their kingdoms from them; because they do not exalt or praise Him, or humbly acknowledge whence the kingdom was given to them. In the Day of His rule, shame fills the faces of the wicked; but those who recognize the Son of Man are blessed.

Learn the wisdom of King Nebuchadnezzar, who thought himself a god among men, and was cursed to become as a beast of the field; and who, after coming back to his senses, glorified the God of Daniel as King of kings and Lord of lords, “whose works are truth, and His ways judgment: and those that walk in pride He is able to abase” – and so his kingdom was returned to him, and all its glory. Humble yourself before the time; for you do not know the Day of your visitation, or what example the God of heaven will make of you should you walk in that delusion of the serpent.

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, and you perish in the way, for His wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.
Psalm 2:10-12 (ESV)

The horrors into which the powers of darkness have drawn the rulers of earth will be their downfall, and the lot of the righteous will always prevail over them. For although they cannot see it, the kingdom of God permeates the whole earth, and the Lord is seated above its heaven, undefeated.

Poem – “He Has Made The Tyrants Shake”

Gregory of Nyssa – Quote on Running The Race

“For in the same way that the start of death is the end of life, so too ceasing from the contest of virtue marks the start of the course of wickedness.”

– Gregory of Nyssa [A.D. 335-395]


Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…

Philippians 3:13 (NKJV)


Elect In His Calling

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.
1 Peter 1:1-2 (ESV)

The election of the saints is according to something, in something, and for something; all of which things play out in this present time upon the earth.

These are not theoretical matters, but living and consequential matters: each one of the three proceeding from God Himself with the intent and power to find their fulfillment by the obedience of faith in the elect ones.


Elect “According To”


“…according to the foreknowledge of God the Father…”

The first of these three is the only sure fountain of the other two. If we do not appreciate the humbling enormity of what this election, or this choosing, is “according to,” then we rob the subsequent matters of their true source of power.

For if God’s electing grace was according to our own choosing, then He should still be waiting for our dead souls to impossibly come alive and choose. But praise be to God! That while we were yet dead in our trespasses and sins, He made us alive: so that we might see, with eyes of a faith once unattainable, the grace of God bestowed upon us in a predestinating love that conforms us to the image of His Son!

That God foreknew is not a theological term for divine time travel. God did not peer helplessly along the parade of souls through time, hoping to see if there were many who decided to believe in Him. The prophets indeed tell us what God sees when He looks upon fallen man: “And there was no man to intercede.” Men have altogether failed to intercede, even on behalf of their own souls. And how could they? For they are not able to please Him, being without the gift of faith, the seed of His Life, in them.

That God forknew the elect means that He KNEW THEM before their time. It is a term of the longing and loving relationship of the Shepherd who seeks out the one lost sheep of the hundred, laying down His very Life for it. The Life-giving call goes out, and His lost sheep awaken to hear His voice, responding with cries for help.

Later on (v.3), Peter will say that according to this abundant mercy, we have been caused to be born again “to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” A living hope! A tangible hope! This means that the subsequent sanctification of the Spirit also comes from God, and not from ourselves. It is God’s power by which we are being gaurded through faith for the revealing of this ever-unfolding salvation until the Last Day (v.4-7).


Elect “In”


“…in the sanctification of the Spirit…”

The relational foreknowing of God, once having planted its seed, is meant to produce the fruit of the same Spirit by whose power we have been generated from above. It is at this point of contact with our lives that the electing and calling will of God tests the soil of the heart of a man. It is here that the seed will germinate and become fruitful, or wither.

It is here that the birds of the air will consume the seed if the soil of the heart is hard and unreceptive to its manner of dying. It is here that the heat will scorch it for lack of depth and root, though it spring up quickly at first. It is here that thorns and thistles will choke it out unless resilient growth displaces them.

And in that parable of the soils is also seen the progression of growth based upon how those three bad soils failed to receive the seed: hardness of heart in the first case, lack of depth in the second, and worldly cares in the third. Whereas, the pattern of growth is as follows: first, the heart softening to recieve the Seed which died and now lives, that it may spring up anew; second, the newly softened ground giving way to greater depth of root; and third, depth of root producing a resilient and fruitful planting – a tree which the birds of the air rest in the shade of, the sun cannot scorch, and the thorns and thistles have no effect upon.

Such is the work of the Spirit of God in a heart that keeps its First Love, surrendering to His mighty work. It is not for lack of His powerful working that we have no power; it is rather for our lack of abiding faith in He who continually works powerfully in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. The three bad soils are so easily emulated in us – and the elect saint must vigilantly fight these conditions of the heart if Christ is to be fully formed in it.

The saints (Gk. holy ones) are elect in the santification of the Spirit.

“In” – it is a matter of abiding. Holy ones are those who do not allow their garments to remain defiled if they become stained. Therefore, we are later exhorted by Peter to be found confirming our calling and election; because continual repentance keeps the elect in the sanctification of the Spirit, by which their true obedience is made possible.


Elect “For”


“…for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with His blood…”

This third matter of the elect’s calling is inseperably twofold.

There can be no true obedience – the obedience undefiled by selfish motives – unless the heart from whence it proceeds is already being purified by a worthy sacrifice. If even the prescribed sacrifices of the old covenant were in themselves unable to perfect those drawing near to God, nor could they cleanse the conscience, nor actually take away sins; how much more inadequate then are the sacrifices of which our own vain minds conceive in our pitiful attempts to enter the holy court of God.

Therefore the writer to the Hebrews said,

For by one offering He has perfected the carrying through of the ones being sanctified.
Hebrews 10:14 (LITV)

Those who are being sanctified are being “carried through” into the holy of holies: not by God deceiving Himself and merely hiding our sins from before His face; but rather by we no longer deceiving ourselves, and He actually taking away our sins as we behold His face.

The matter therefore once again comes down to the substance of our faith: what our hands and feet proclaim to be our hope, and what our path testifies to be our vision. The blood of Jesus is that by which our faith is fully assured, and that which sprinkles our hearts from an evil conscience, and that which washes even our body as in pure water to walk in the obedience of a living faith.
To enter the holiest place is to enter as a living sacrifice upon an altar. To remain in the holiest place is to remain and increasingly embody an intercessory posture.

Earlier I noted how the unregenerate man has no intercessory ability (or desire, truly). But those who are elect by God’s will in the santification of the Spirit are brought into an obedience that is a life of intercession on behalf of the body of which they are now becoming an integral member. The obedience to Jesus and the sprinkling with His blood is what they are now purposed “for,” as priests in His living temple, ministering unto God.

As you come to Him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 2:4-5 (ESV)


“So great is the office for which God hath appointed them, and which it is not lawful for them to decline.”
– Author Unknown, to “Diognetus”
[circa 130AD~200s AD]


Apocalypse: Then & Now


§I ICHABOD THROUGH THE AGES


Then the glory of the Lord went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim.
Ezekiel 10:18 (ESV)

And the glory of the Lord went up from the midst of the city and stood on the mountain that is on the east side of the city. [The Mount Of Olives]
Ezekiel 11:23 (ESV)

This took place before the destruction of the first temple in Ezekiel’s day.
And Jesus, who is Himself the Glory of the Lord, signifies again Jerusalem’s doom by following this exact path before the Day of the Lord came upon the second temple. I wonder how much the disciples realized how relevant this was to the question they asked Him next:

Jesus left the temple and was going away, when His disciples came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple. But He answered them, “You see all these, do you not? Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”
As He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of Your coming and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:1-3

He then proceeded to describe what would accompany the end of that age, (ostensibly the Jewish era in their mind), all of which things literally fell in a very real sense upon that literal generation, in 70AD. Not one stone of the temple was left upon another. Jesus indeed visited Jerusalem again in judgement; even according to the colorful apocalyptic language which God typically uses when speaking of the overthrow of nations in the old testament (coming on the clouds, sun darkened, moon turned to blood, stars falling from heaven, etc.) His warning about this very doom to the Christians, who would be living in that city some 35 years later, is also recorded by Luke:

But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.
Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, and let those who are inside the city depart, and let not those who are out in the country enter it, for these are days of vengeance, to fulfill ALL that is written.
Luke 21:20-22 (ESV)

Josephus later recorded an incredible event in mid-65AD, right before the seige of Jerusalem properly began, which again mirrors the pattern of the Glory of the Lord departing:

Moreover at the feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests went by night into the inner court of the temple, as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations; they said that in the first place they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that the heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, “Let us remove hence.”

But, what is still more terrible; there was one Jesus [a common 1st century name], the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for everyone to make tabernacles to God in the temple, began on a sudden to cry aloud, “A voice from the east, a voice from the west, a voice from the four winds, a voice against Jerusalem and the holy house, a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides, and a voice against this whole people!”

(Josephus, The Wars Of The Jews 6:5:3)

This occured in the year before Jerusalem’s seige began. Many things recorded by the historians of that time sound much like an earthly observer’s account of John’s apocalyptic book unfolding upon the land. All the tribes [Gk. φυλή] of the land [Gk. γῆ] indeed mourned because of He whom they had pierced (Rev 1:7). And those in Jerusalem from all about the land did so mourn, by the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, before the later judgement of the unbelievers, just as Zechariah prophesied:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on Me, on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over Him, as one weeps over a firstborn.
Zechariah 12:10 (ESV)

And afterwards, when the faithful evenually fled that city as Jesus had warned, there was no sacrifice for sins left in it; but only a fearful expectation of judgement, which consumed those particular adversaries of Christ, so that they also wailed on account of Him.

For example, some of the language in Josephus’ account as quoted above, secifically “a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides,” reminds us of the overthrow of that great city called by John “Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified”:

Then a mighty angel took up a stone like a great millstone and threw it into the sea, saying,
“So will Babylon the great city be thrown down with violence, and will be found no more; and the sound of harpists and musicians, of flute players and trumpeters, will be heard in you no more, and a craftsman of any craft will be found in you no more,
and the sound of the mill will be heard in you no more, and the light of a lamp will shine in you no more, and the voice of bridegroom and bride will be heard in you no more, for your merchants were the great ones of the earth, and all nations were deceived by your sorcery.
And in her was found the blood of prophets and of saints, and of all who have been slain on earth.”
Revelation 18:21-24 (ESV)

“…For it cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem.”


§II MULTI-LEVEL FULFILLMENTS


These few years were full of great woe. All the plagues and woes fell upon that city as is written in the book of Christ’s unveiling [Gk. apokalupsis – unveiling, or revelation].

And as the earthly temple fell, and its practitioners were judged by the two witnesses of the Law and the Prophets, which they had proven to vehemently despise, the new temple was seen in heaven, heralded by seven trumpet blasts and many woes upon the disobedient; for then Christ had begun to reign (Rev 11:17).

I am becoming convinced that the great bulk of the book of Revelation, as well as Matthew 24:1-34, was in a very real sense fulfilled as of 70AD. In other words, Jesus meant exactly what He said when He spoke the words, “there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.” For He indeed came back to that city in judgement, since they rebelled against His newly inaugurated reign, having declared, “We have no king but Caesar!” In His judgement of them, Christ proved Himself to be the King of kings, the Prophet of a better covnant, and the Priest of a new temple made without hands.

That said, similar cycles do continue to repeat themselves upon the church whenever God’s people reject His Lordship; and just as there were many false Christs of the Synagogue of Satan in that day, so it remains even to our own. But again, it can be instructional to us to see that much of the book of Revelation appears to have been written to initially tell of the great tribulation of those days, which was “shortly coming to pass;” a day of peril at the end of one age to commence another age, the beginning of the time of which Christ said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been geven to Me. Go therefore…” And this He said as He went to the Father on the clouds of heaven. Daniel also tells us of His ascension in this way:

I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a Son of Man, and He came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.
Daniel 7:13-14

Here His coming on the clouds is directed not to earth, but to the Father; having bound the Devil and won that which the Father then presents to Him. Therefore the Lord is always slowly building up His kingdom in the midst of the earth just as He promised – perhaps appearing in our impatient eyes to be taking one step back then two steps forward; and He is always cancelling the Devil’s apocalypse, because the true apocalypse belongs to Christ, who is truly the One revealing Himself in the earth.

If our understanding of the nearness of the Day of the Lord is expanded beyond the last 100 years of one particular continent, and if we turn from the voices of proven liars and worldly apocalypse merchants, then I believe that this will slowly become apparent. It is just as wicked to give up, hoping to magically escape in the times of darkness, as it is wicked to pretend that there are no such times in this age. For the Day of the Lord appears first in the hearts of men; and winnows its threshing floor there before anywhere else. Therefore Christ will have for Himself a great multitude from every tribe, tongue, and nation; and He will find servants willing to gather them, even if it takes centuries more.

The Stone grows into a Mountain,
The Leaven permeates the whole lump,
The Son sits at the right hand of the Father,
Until all enemies are made a footstool for His feet.


§III THE AGE OF RESURRECTION


“Heaven is My throne, and the earth is My footstool.”

Or as the apostle Paul stated it for this age,

For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
1 Corinthians 15:25-26

And later in the same discussion, Paul goes on to say:

I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed.
1 Corinthians 15:50-52

Now if this trumpet is in one sense the seventh trumpet of Revelation 11:15, then it is that which inaugurates the same reign of Christ of which we have already spoken:
Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.”
They also say thereafter, “for you have taken your great power and begun to reign.”

We these things in mind, we can begin to understand that the seals, trumpets, and bowls of Christ’s unveiling are not particular to any one period in history, past or present; but they are ever being opened, blasted, and poured out at all times in every generation and in various ways. They even were fulfilled in one sense long before John’s time, when the Lord overthrew Jericho by the hand of Joshua. For since the book of Revelation concerns the unveiling of Christ, all things in it therefore have a fulfillment in what was, what is, and what is to come.

In John’s day, the fall of earthly Jerusalem, as initially announced by the trumpets he describes, marked for them the beginning of a new iteration of God’s kingdom through the church; which before had subsisted on earth in the earthly temple, but now would spread across the earth from a Cornerstone into a very great mountain, from a Seed into a very great tree: a greater temple made of living stones; a better covanent enacted on better promises. For as long as the earthly temple still stood, its age was not yet ended (Heb 9:8-9). But now He has begun to reign; and of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, though Satan is again fully loosed for but a very little season at the end of this age (Rev 20).

And concerning this present age, the apostle Paul continues:

For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
“O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 15:53-57

The victory in this present age is “through our Lord Jesus Christ;” and it is also called by the book of Revelation “the first resurrection” (Rev 20:5). The second death (the lake of fire) has no authority over the ones who partake in this resurrection life by the Spirit of Christ. The first generation of this new Israel overcame the persecution which accompanied the fall of the old order of things (42 months under Nero Caesar), and we still continue to find Christ’s same victory over the first death by that first resurrection, in all the trials that have followed on earth under His current reign.

But note especially the remark about the perishable putting on imperishability, and the mortal putting on immortality. This describes our translation to meet with the Imperishable One who put on what was perishable, the Immortal One who put on mortality; yet who also rendered both imperishable and immortal once again: so that, as the apostle said before, once all enemies are put under His feet in this age, He at last will fully defeat that death in us, even as He did so in Himself. Therefore we work in the hope of the second resurrection triumphing over the second death, as judgement is passed over the children of His covanent, who sing the song of Moses.

It is with this perspective, I believe, that great meaning is retained in Paul’s closing remark on the matter:

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
1 Corinthians 15:58


§IVTHE WARNING


Now, if the church inherits all the blessings of Israel, then it also inherits all the same temptations, all the same risks of idolatry, and all the same curses for disobedience. Whoever steps outside of Christ’s rule steps outside of where all the promises of God are “yes” and “amen.”

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Revelation 22:18-19

That book is the unveiling of Jesus Christ. To add to Him or to take away from Him, is to reject Him. From such He will “remove hence.” There must be a remnant out of every generation, and in every age, who overcomes the dreadful condemnation of Christ, “Behold, your house is left to you desolate.”

Just as those who did not obey Christ in the last age were not able to proceed into the greater glory of His kingdom in this age; so also will those who disobey Him in this age not proceed into its greater glory in the next.

When the church of the previous age (Israel) fully rejected what was given to them, it was succeeded in the present age by a remnant, but with a better promise to bless all nations IN CHRIST. Therefore, when the present remnant of Israel (the church) fully obeys what has been given to it – and God will indeed see it done – it will be translated into a more blessed age.

And though it is now the age of the first resurrection, it was the second resurrection (translation) for which Paul longed even in this life when he said:

…to know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, having been conformed to His death, if somehow I may attain to a resurrection out of the dead.
Philippians 3:10-11

And Enoch walketh habitually with God, and he is not, for God hath taken him.
Genesis 5:24 (YLT)

“Now the day of the Lord comes not where the carnal mind might imagine, nor when man wills; neither according to the carnal desire of the carnal heart; neither according to the evil eye that looks out, can it be seen.

And as the day of the Lord is a mystery, the Spirit of the Lord is the only discoverer of it; for none can know the things of God, but by the Spirit of God. The day of the Lord; even his bright shining forth in the heart of man, is one of the glorious things of God, which only the Spirit of God gives the knowledge of to man, and in man.

The further men draw from the Light, the darker their hearts become; and their understandings being closed up, they cannot behold the Lord, neither his glory, which is revealed only by God’s Holy Spirit; which Spirit is near man, though he sees it not.”

– Francis Howgill

“Such A Heart In Them”

“Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou [Moses] near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.”
Deuteronomy 5:25-27

Thus was the stubborn posture of the hearts of the children of Israel toward the Word of God when it came to them in power and great glory.

The hearts of wicked men are ever blind to the mercy that has already been shown to them unmerrited; therefore grace is a stranger to them, and they to it. Despite all the clear proof that God has not already struck them down in wrath, the ungrateful question of the accuser is always stirring within their souls, “Has God indeed said?” And by their love of that lawless question, however secret it may be, all of their ways are made crooked, and they always miss God. For notice that outwardly they still claim that they will perform the commandment of God; but only, they say, if another should “Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee.”

Now, although it pleased God in His soveriegn plan that for our learning Moses should stand as a kind of mediator for the children of Israel, prefiguring for us the unfathomable abasement of His Word in a Man on our behalf; still, His jealousy remained provoked in that ancient day toward those who so rejected His Word as it had appeared to them. For God will not be mocked; and His way will stand, though men so inventively seek any other door than what He graciously provides them. Therefore He was angry with that generation, and lamented their hardness of heart.

And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye [Israel] spake unto me [Moses]; and the Lord said unto me, “I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
Deuteronomy 5:28-29

“…they have well said all that they have spoken.”
The Lord who searches the thoughts and intentions is not taken aback by the self-deceit which pervades the hardened heart of merely religious men. Their most pious response is still dependant upon another man knowing God for them; and this He sees as no different, if not even more despicable, than those who shake their fists at Him unabashedly.

“O that there were such an heart in them…”
The hearts which tend by God’s grace towards true obedience are marked by a desire to know God’s voice for themselves. But those which tend away from desiring a personal knowing of God’s voice; who tend to desire the voice of other men; and perhaps even mock that God would so speak to them, except through a man, reveal that they are full of disobedience already.

“…that they would fear Me…”
The wisdom of God is obtained through the fear of Him: those who fear Him seek His counsel diligently for themselves, and leave it not in the hands of any other.

“…and keep all My commandments always…”
The scriptures loudly attest to us that true obedience is that which is born of a heart that has been made humble and contrite before the living God. When God appears to such persons, they bow in faith saying, “Thy will be done, and first in me!” – and they go forth, though they may not see how it is possible. For they trust that He who gives the commandment will grant within them its Breath unto Life. But the passing of one’s own responsibility onto another is the way of the dead.

“…that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!”
We damn not only ourselves, but in a way our children also, when we willingly give place to any other Mediator than Christ Jesus. Let us not render ourselves as another lesson of failure for a generation yet future; and if we do, may our own children quickly overcome our lawless and faithless spirit, however it might sting our wicked pride.

As Moses said to Israel earlier in the same discourse, recounting God’s marvelous deeds among them:

“Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the Lord.” Also the Lord was angry with me [Moses] for your sakes, saying, “Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.”
Deuteronomy 1:35-38