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September 20, 1999
(for more on music see NFF Ch. 2 - Music and Meaning)
IN THE BEREAN CALL, September 1999, THERE IS REFERENCE TO A PERSON ONCE CAUGHT IN A HIGH-SOUNDING, FAR-FETCHED SPIRITIST MOVEMENT which, starting from the 'word and the name' of the Lord, went on to fresh 'revelations' until it apparently became merely a sort of running papacy in new format, fresh revelations coming from the now assured place of the misleading under-shepherds who, instead of interpreting what God has said, interpreted whatever mode and partition of spiritual powers happened to be working in them at any given time. That, it is like failing to distinguish between blood cells and bacteria, virtue and virus.
However it is as common as viruses, and like them, constantly is making subtle changes so that the unwary won't find it just too easy to avoid the latest pit to fall into. False christs and false prophets come in kaleidoscopic variety. Apostasy, rebellion with religious trappings like rebellion in political ones, swarms over the surface of the earth like a mouse plague. Ever new messiahs, new novel teachers of the thoughts of their own hearts, new news and newsy views furnish a constant source of preoccupation so that, if possible, all may be damned.
But God has other ideas,
though the scenario is on a vast, even prodigious scale.
This reminds us that, although as often stressed on this site, we are in the last days, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ is decidedly near and His church is preparing for His advent, whilst still fighting the good fight to the end (Matthew 24:40ff., 25:1ff., Ephesians 6), there is a spiritual battle, a war of spiritual needs and nerds, the latter embodied in flesh, the foolish misleaders of our times. These, dispossessed remnants of creation, appear quite as far removed from the Creator's format as viruses from virtue: being remnants, residues, bits left over, waste material not yet consigned, diseased and creating disease (Cf. Mark 9:42ff., II Peter 1ff.).
These are those false and spurious, deceiving and furious elements, of whom Peter speaks in II Peter 2:1 as false teachers and prophets, and of whom Paul often speaks. Of these in most similar vein, Jude speaks with such a poignant and piercing eloquence. Wandering stars he calls such, for whom blackness of darkness is reserved for ever, raging waves foaming out their own shame.
Who are these in Jude ? why, those who make it necessary to fight for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (cf. News 43). The 'lewdness' is quite parallel to the Biblical norm of using sexual practices to indicate spiritual follies in the "wife" or "bride" of the Lord (as in Ezekiel 23, where the idolatrous practices are such that one of the two evil sisters is said to have "grown old in adulteries" (Ezekiel 23:43). The figure is sustained in its imagery. Thus Israel as a nation is seen as a lewd woman, even to the point of having her breasts pressed, being fascinated by the bold array of other nations, and of sitting on a stately couch, "with a table prepared before it, on which you had set My incense and My oil." Thus the religious realities are conveyed in the adulterous images (cf. Hosea 12:10).
Lewd ? Constantly this is thrown in the face of the nation, ancient Israel, which was
They are those :
1) making fighting for the faith necessary.
2) turning the grace of God into lewdness - and it is of course true that the metaphorical readily slides into the practical, as in the sodomy provisions (cf. Jude 7) held proper by many in the Uniting Church and the Anglican Church, each of which has suffered an acute degree of division on the topic, and indeed the proposition of spiritual sodomites in the pulpit has seriously, most seriously been entertained. This however is merely an application of the spiritual defilement in view in Jude, in the context of the whole Old Testament. In general, this means at least the contamination of pure devotion and dedication to the Lord with carnal controls, as philosophy, other religions, transcendental meditation and the like, in that general mix of the sacred and the profane so detestable to the Lord, and so often condemned.
3) angels who "did not keep their proper domain" - and our proper domain is the word of God and the work of God and the trust in the Lord and the Christ of the cross, not fornicating substitutes.
4) speaking evil of whatever they do not know, and whatever they know naturally.
This means that those who do not know the Lord, but are practised in the ecclesiastical art of talking about Him are involved, contrary to Jeremiah 9:23-24. You even have theologies, taught in churches, that you CANNOT know God, even though "this is eternal life that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" - John 17:3. You have more of them which can teach that you COULD not know God because He is NOT personal, and other lewd atrocities, the theologies of unbelief, all handsome young men, as the prophet depicts it (Ezekiel 23:12-16). "As soon as her eyes saw them, she lusted for them and sent messengers to them in Chaldea" (cf. Isaiah 57:9, where the imagery is less heavy, and II Kings 16:8-9, where we see the sort of diplomatic alliancing involved in plain fact, in the case of Assyria).
5) rejecting authority, dreamers speaking evil of those with due authority in its due manner: and who more due than the Lord, whose word and person they freely mutilate by re-writing the Bible in the guise of correction, setting up popes or prelates with exclusive power to interpret against I John 2:27, squelching its words in the artifice of interpreting them, even by contradiction, sometimes even by assuming the writers or God or both would have thought differently or spoken otherwise, if they had the advantage of addressing people now, as if God evolved or could not predict. Accordingly, they are in outrageous rebellion against His express claims ... and performance (cf. Isaiah 41,48).
6) serving only themselves. This does not preclude other objectives, but merely subsumes them below the ultimate: the sacred self, its development of potential for its own sake, its wealth's sake, its prestige' sake, its personal contentment sake, its career's sake, or for the sake of its due recognition and place in society, in this world. This can of course become the self's nominee, such as a church which is given all power in the place of the sinless, increate Christ, a pope, a community and the like.
7) walking in ungodly deeds committed in an ungodly way. The cleavage is clear: it is the word of the Lord to be followed or the words of men. There is nothing inbetween. Any writing can be seduced for the spirit of man by simply adding or subtracting thought or word or authority, and mixing the concepts to confusion.
8) mocking the sacred realities of the word of God as it is written, by using their church or their education or their wit to work their own ways, without that sure test, "If they do not speak according to this word, there is no truth in them, " Isaiah 8:20, and this, " Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which proceeds out of the mouth of God." Mocking is expressly interpreted by Peter to include two very common categories for our own time: denying the awful reality of the judgment of the flood. and the reality of creation by God (II Peter 3 cf. supra, No. 74, p. 103).
This includes the practice, because of such attitudes, of those who are mockers of the clear presentations of the Bible, whether they join in the adulterous choruses of organic evolution with other religionists of note, the post-Christian morals of still more quasi-Christians in their eminent ecclesiastical positions, or whatever other New Age novelties they may invent with which to subdue the clear teaching of the Bible, adding mysteries in myriads, as in Rome or the Mormon cult, never found in the Gospel, itself inviolate and determinate from Paul (Galatians 1).
THESE are the sorts of things involved in the diversified distortions, in the 'lewdness' of spirit or the insubordination of mind: a sort of swelling of spirit and of heart and of affection towards this world, its philosophies, its ways, its powers, its presumptions and arrogant assertions, TOGETHER WITH TALK OF THE LORD AND OF HIS WAYS. THAT is why it is "lewd" and so we have seen as a Biblical norm, which in practice is often allied with practices which turn metaphor to malpractice; but not necessarily, and not at all times or in all cases.
Yes, such topics have
indeed received our attention (cf. SMR Ch.8, pp.659ff.,
) and you have been warned, as of any other epidemic. NOW it is threatening
to reach pandemic proportions, and its final onrush will be dramatic, if
short. It is folly to stand in the way of the truth.
THE PHASES OF HISTORY
History, the account of what happens to our race and our terrestrial environment, right from is birth to its future history, prophetic discarding of the universe, and the assignment and consignment of the human and responsible inhabitants, has had a few vital turning points.
It is like an orchestra, gradually adding new sounds of new instruments until, in the swathe of sound cutting into our experience, it produces such an ensemble that only if you are attentive to the build up of symphonic elements, are you likely to find the meaning. At that, you are not to have the ear for that until your life itself is attuned to the mind of God, the Lord, your Creator, who is not really affected at all by your belief or otherwise, any more than is the passage of the stars by early man's understanding of them, or otherwise: with this exception, that responsibility wears on its breast, the results of its ignorance when this is wilful, of its autonomy when this pretended state crashes on crippled wings. And we ? We are responsible, the far side of our much vaunted powers and 'possibilities'.
The First Movement
First then there is the stunning grandeur of initial creation. It is like a vast trumpet blast from a multitude of differently pitched wind instruments making a sea of sound, yet one filled with a sort of ecstatic lyric of wonder. It is a myriad of sound with a unifying verve and brightness.
The Second Movement
Then, second, there is a swimming melody of violins, surging and caressing, rising like backward running meteors ascending to the heights; yet with this impassioned greatness, there is tenderness, coming like a new-born babe into a patch of violets. The product called man has come, conscious of the world, his thoughts, his conscience, his spirit, his scope and his Maker. His test, trial and temptation proceed in that dismal little affair of failure which is so well known: knowing the reality of being constructed, he yet decides to listen to the words of disobedience, and given a simple test, he imagines he knows best and finds that the much vaunted KNOWLEDGE OF GOOD AND OF EVIL, which he was so pathologically keen to obtain when his heart split from the beauty of the Lord: why, it is nothing more than an illusion, a pain for pleasure, a sickness for health, a poverty in place of wealth. He BECOMES EVIL and SO knows it!
It is hilarious as a rebuff to disobedient flirtation with the devil, that fallen emissary, the light-bearing darkness whose ambition brought him where theirs brought Nixon's 'men', into disrepute. As to the Prince of darkness, his disease spread in a fertile soil. Man was contaminated as no radioactive soil is ever spoiled. The cost of cleaning was to be prodigious. So the music rises, stunning in its variety and passion.
The Third Movement
Next, third, the divine retort to this rort becomes evident. The condition of the creation is altered to mirror in some depth that of fallen man. Instead of a garden, a botanical combat scene, instead of a godlike innocence, a guilty guile, no longer friendly fellowship but the mysteries of sacrifice, with this, a sudden eruption of new sound.
While this third music is a cacophony of drums and symbols, rather like that leading to the guillotine, ear-splitting in its intensity and yet woven into what went before and is to follow, it is a third movement in the symphony, exciting, devastating and yet arresting.
The Fourth Movement
It is to the fourth movement we then look. The sound is like a tinkling and pianissimo fluting of notes, it passes without pomp, is presented with quietness that nevertheless is a living serenity, penetrating yet joyful to the ear. It surges, resurges, sounds like the pealing of bells and then like the humming of joy, the piping of the piccolo, the sweetness of the oboe, the rushing exuberance of the organ and the tiny tingling of bells.
It is the gospel, called the protevangelium, the first glimpse of day in the family meeting of the sons of night (Genesis 3:15), to find that the day still beckons. In the form of man the Master of deliverance is to make His profundity effective: a seed of man is to deliver the fallen race (cf. Barbs, Arrows and Balms 17, pp. 101ff.). God would intervene THROUGH a man whom HE would appoint, far above the fallen human mulch which distempered the soil.
What then ? It is this: THERE IS TO BE A WAY. Man is desolated but not yet entirely desolate. He is in a cursed world but not one where beauty has withered. Nevertheless, though it does not wither, it is quickly destroyed, as were the babes in the slaughter of the innocents under Herod (cf. Jeremiah 31:15, Matthew 2:18). Its number for this score is Revelation 12. There you see the gospel coming out like tender light and the recipients chased as if West Timorese before the 'militia'. Yet they are delivered, not by an international force, but by the controlling power of the Lord (Revelation 12:15-17, 11:6 with James 5:17-18, Luke 21:15, 12:11, 19:11ff., II Corinthians 4:17-5:5).
The Fifth Movement
Then comes the march. What a band is this, as if the orchestra had band music for its summer triumph. This is the fifth. The flood removes the inoperable filth, the ark conveys the new crew and soon arises Babel, that great concept of uniting man so that the heavens could acknowledge him, and he indeed make them to order. How quickly the band music in its swinging triumphalism becomes the disastrous military band, man's militance brought into fighting closeness with God's grace. Fight us in our sickness would you doctor, the voice carries far from the baritone who bulls it out: then we will DISPENSE WITH YOU! So the second rebellion mounts to the heavens, and the music is all at sea, as if the band were drowning and the beauties were smitten, and yet undying.
The Sixth Movement
Then comes the singular boy-soprano, in the sixth movement, an artist whose high and feeble notes yet have a purity of tone which makes their very weakness appealing. It is Israel, coming to life through Abraham. Now at last a set of FAITH and CONFERRED COMPANIONSHIP in IMPUTED RIGHTEOUSNESS, a GIFT of covering before God and a friendship of kindness with the Almighty. Soon in Moses it is codified, but the third rebellion makes even this seem too little. It is like pouring penicillin in tons into some huge beast, which seems determined to die anyway.
The Seventh Movement
Then that awful seventh. It is like the shrieking of demented opera singers, comic artists and tragedians all ranting in riot: a vocal quintet of murder, resurrection, sin-bearing, rebellion against sin-bearing and a tiny piece of peace. The Jewish covenant comes to its Head in Christ who is then murdered. The music becomes suddenly like modern music so often, seemingly meaningless, like stars and frogs and sparkles of dew and raging ocean and fury of wind all in one. They are then expelled, crucified, dying a thousand deaths, and the church is born, with its New Covenant.
The Eighth Movement
It is the eighth which is marvellous. It somehow makes a unity and meaning for all that went before; for now, in a thrust of such mellow and mature magnificence that one's breath is removed, one's spirit is stayed, one's thought congeal in astonishment: what ? Life is victor over death and the free offer of an OUT to all this EVIL IN, is presented with such a simplicity that the melody of salvation by grace through faith, and all that not of yourselves, of peace with God and love to brethren surges with an exuberance reminiscent of seagulls quietly, oh so quietly, yet swiftly, gliding so effortlessly, yet again, wonderfully active and effective. It is there : the gospel, long predicted in glorious detail is now paid for. Christ is arisen, authenticated physically restored, glorified, ascended, in friendship showing Himself, laughing at confinement, the executioner of death.
The Ninth Movement
Then comes the ninth. The Spirit of God promised in the name of Christ, brings out the gospel, brings in the people and raises up a standard (cf. Isaiah 59:19) against the ingenuities of profusion and confusion that ever active alliance of Satan and sin uniformly produces. The aging Age progresses, and with it, the developing spirit of the Age tumbles like clothes in a drier, dirty clothes that refuse to become clean. Let us see it graphically, looking back from the earlier centuries, unfolding into the present.
Thus the fatal error
of Romanism slowly arises to its zenith of abuse (cf. SMR pp. 1032ff.,
920, 925ff., 986ff.,
Question of Gifts pp. 65ff.,p.
one misnamed catholicism, in that being both perverse towards the Gospel
and centred in the wrong place, as shown often enough in its concordats
(cf. SMR pp. 920,
*9). Time passes. A hundred segments of ever new efforts to displace
the gospel are energised from the same source. Millions fall.
The Christian apostasies
multiply, and the Moslem distortion of Christ, added before long in the
6th century AD, by the 8th. century uses its military militance to threaten
Europe (cf. SMR pp. 986ff.,
50ff., 829ff., , 988ff.,
). By the present century, its military force is again splashed across
the page of history, funded by oil. The laughing religious
emptiness of no God, arising after Isaiah, nearer to the time of Daniel,
comes in like a screeching motor-bike into a vacuous world, its rider tumbling
in his leather kit, and Buddhism becomes firm in dealing emptily with the
endless seeming play of spiritual actors in Hinduism (cf. SMR pp. 1011ff.).
The mix brews.
Meanwhile, the 'Protestant' popes come into being, likewise anomalous misnomers and roamers who though far from Rome, imitate the revelatory nostrums (as noted at the outset and cf. SMR pp. 836ff., 861ff., 864ff., 857ff., 925ff.), and have a variety which increasing finds itself drawn into the Roman swirl, however fast its rotation, and however deep its central vortex (cf. SMR pp. 721ff, 743ff., 912ff., 918ff.). Liberalism features them, neo-orthodoxy focusses them, neoevangelicism diffuses them, like wafts from a distant scene, formalistically forthright, dynamically in chains. Waves upon waves of discordant interlockings arise, like vapours in a swamp. Many follow - and that is where we started with the case cited in The Berean Call, indeed provided direct from the report of the person concerned in this particular delusion.
The concept of mere obedience, mere faith, mere trust, mere studying of the word of God and implementing it, mere grace with mere power of God, mere fighting for the faith once for all delivered to the saints, mere casting down of imaginations and bringing every thought into captivity to Christ, mere apostolic Christianity and mere watchfulness of its mere prescriptions for the sake of the mere Lord and mere Saviour seems to grow distant from the modish throng. Only the Christians continue and only the Christian church, not a national pastime or an international compromise, a philosophic spawn or a focus for "ism-itis" (cf. pp. ROP 1, *1, TBW 8 , KH 9, section 12, pp. 174ff.) proceeds. The jumble sale of fallen goods continue at discount prices.
The Tenth Movement
It is the tenth movement of the symphony. A concerted and increasingly self-conscious galloping sound as of dragons shrieking is to be heard. Like Babel of old, its essence is unity, mischievous misconceived god-aspiring unity. Not to be with God, but to displace Him: this is its heart.
Like Babel of old,
its reality is disunity. But now, there is a determination to deal with
the doctor once and for all. Enough of this peace, this healing, this Gospel
and indeed, this God. Why have Him at all!
Surrounded with death (see News 84) as if it had become a popular game, the environment bewildered and the nations as if suffering from hydrophobia, with mad initiatives and wild frenzies of misplaced and misled subtleties, the spirit of the Age asks for a melody of ear-shattering loudness, to disguise its fundamental lack of cohesion. Pope and Buddhist (cf. A Spiritual Potpourri 17, pp. 232ff.), Pentecostalist and Marian (A Question of Gifts, p. 69), sect and spiritist begin to move towards that United Religions with ever increasing force cf. SMR p. 912).
Has it not been operating with Bishop Swing in what might be thought of as the Swing Symphony these many years, and has it not been gathered by the composer's work ? His is one phase. The United Nations and the Papal symphonic poem all blend in this tenth movement. If I had a paid seat with free refreshments and week-end in Hayman Island to follow, I would miss it as I would miss a viper.
Meanwhile in varied and chaotic seeming crescendos, the music strives stridently to cope, as famine, plague and folly mount like an alarming wave, 100 metres high, confronting some champion surfer. It challenges, but it is likewise out of the question. The weak and wandering devices of the devil come to seem as hopeless as they are, and only in desperado dynamism do the exposed exponents of emptiness continue to fight. Without His intervention they could not so much as continue in LIFE on the earth, so profound is their wilful ignorance, so unutterably foolish their woeful wilfulness, so blind their leader, so pitiful their human racism, their pride (Matthew 24:22).
But wait! The air is full of commotion but more is to follow.
While the Gentile Age thus completes itself (Luke 21:24, see refs. below), the Jews are now emphatically BACK where they came from. Jerusalem, by now long a burdensome stone to those nations treating it with sovereign disregard of its divine appointment, is a new focus (Zechariah 12:10). The tempestuousness of the final thrusts of history before He comes are now in view (Luke 21:25ff.) The world in disarray but untamed in its emptily virile illusions, the Jews then come suddenly to see the light in great masses, and Israel is once again the scene of massive evangelism (cf. The Biblical Workman Ch.3, pp. 47-50; Ch. 8, pp. 139ff.). This holds the music like a quiet interlude and then, as one is wondering what is to follow, it happens.
The music stutters: suddenly sound vomits and there is an unearthly silence.
The saints are removed (Matthew 24:29ff., I Thessalonians 4:13ff.*1).
What music is to follow is of little interest. One would need special ear-drums and hearing apparatus even to be able to bear it.
The Eleventh Movement
It is however the eleventh movement which is that, like one born out of due time, which is a sheer delight. The saints having attended the wedding feast of the Lamb in heaven, as at some vast reception (cf. Revelation 19:7ff.), now with their Lord return (Zechariah 14:5, Revelation 19:8,14, I Thessalonians 1:10). The nations are rebuked, and the kingdoms of this world suddenly are transformed. Christ Jesus the Lord is the King in residence now, and "the kingdom of this world is become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever" (Revelation 11:15). Then follows an impenetrable peace as His righteousness is seen without the devious duplicities of the devil and sin. The music is like a swelling stream, happily pouring past contented banks, with weeping willows and swirling sounds of quietness which enters the very soul.
Then sharp discord. "Let favour be shown to the wicked, yet will he not learn righteousness; in the land of uprightness will he deal unjustly, and will not behold the majesty of the LORD." (Isaiah 26:10). It is just so. The devil has a final fling, evokes final desperate war, and so it is shown. EVEN WHEN there is a simpler world, without that complex series of movements, one where Christ is eminent and manifest and ruling, there is discontent (Revelation 10). For the many, it is WITHOUT GOD or nothing! It is with that spirit of envy so manifest in the devil, or not at all (cf. The Kingdom of Heaven 8).
Actually this is not true: it is not without God or NOTHING. It is then WITH the devil in a sea of sin, gleaming with forgotten light, arching in uncontrollable mists in a profusion of confusion, delusion and ultimate despair.
But what would you expect ? After all, the devil is a liar. That is his business theme. As to his way, THAT is the way they want it, and so subtle is the evil one, that they may not even realise that he exists. His image is deceptive, his instruments can for a time resemble even "an angel of light" (cf. II Corinthians 11:14-15; and note Revelation 20:8, the devil goes "to deceive the nations"). It is the same with other disease: your symptoms are clear, the cause you may not know. With the devil, that however becomes in the presence of the word of God, mere closing of the eyes.
The issue ? In this, it is really God as God or the devil as taunter, and so it comes to be: yet HE - with that civic counterpart of all this infamy and blasphemy, the vying throne of the nations, is thrown once and for ever, where he belongs. The heaven and earth depart. They have by then seen their day. It is time for the audience to depart (cf. Ephesians 3:10, Job 1). THAT stage of this staging is over.
The judgment sits. All this comes like that final coda, that musical glissade which brings one in a cherished fulfilment on the one hand, and panting with exhaustion at the experience on the other. It is finished. It is little use trying to decode the coda if you have not clearly understood the preceding movements, or at least their main thrust. The "holy scriptures are able to make you wise to salvation" (II Timothy 3:15). (The salvation long finished, is now manifested, and the finale of rebellion is taken apart until the sheer devilry is separated out, like milk without cream , and it flows to its place; and the sheer gratitude of salvation by grace, with the face of the Lord shining and His Spirit enabling, is taken in individual containers.
The Twelfth Movement
Then the twelve movement comes like the rushing of a wind, the babbling of gentle waters, the quiet and confident powered surges of the mid-ocean, the sunset in Spring, the dawning on a clear day without clouds over the seas. Eternity with the eternal God and His people who love Him who is love and are loved as only its source and original can love. It is all but indescribable: but why try ? In its time it is to be heard. Why miss it ?
Consider these things,
and let the music of reality stir your thoughts to the realisation of truth.
There is really no need to face the music. The judgment scene has no attraction, austerely beautiful in one sense, though it be. It is better to follow the music of His voice, and see in the midst of the twelve symphonic movements of the divine music, the meaning of the heavenly symphony. ALL is tried, NOTHING is left merely unable to come to its day; and all fail, nothing stands except the Lord who made all, whose love and kindness to any is such, that NO ONE calling on His name in faith is EVER rejected (John 6:37,40,51-54), NO ENTRY by that door, Jesus Christ is ever rejected (John 10:9), as one stands on the mat of repentance (Luke 13:1-3); and the music as one enters is such that the very angels thrill with joy (Luke 15:7):
tell you likewise that joy shall be in heaven over one sinner who repents,
more than over ninety and nine righteous persons, who need no repentance"
- Luke 15:7..
or Musical Postlude
with a Touch of Mathematics
on Revelation 11
*1 It is of interest, viewing the numerous references to this event in the Bible: the call to heaven en masse, of the saints in the height of the carnal storms of a dying earth, to see where it might appear in the book of Revelation. It appears in Rev. 11:12. The reason for seeing this in that call to
"Come up here!",to the two witnesses may be briefly indicated as follows.
The 1260 days assigned them (Revelation 11:2-3) are of course the 42 months and the three and a half times or years, in the nomenclature used. It is dealt with in SMR pp. 886ff., 969, and refers to the arithmetic of Daniel, whose system turned the 70 years of exile of the Jews in Babylon leading into the 6th century B.C. - after which they returned to Jerusalem by predicted decree of Cyrus - into a 70 7's device, which would cover the prophetic future, including the Messianic death and triumph (see Daniel 9:24ff., and references noted above). The first magnificently accurate prediction of the Jewish exile, became the source book for the next and final stage of prophecy, one incorporating a precise foretelling of the death date of the Messiah. Let us now see its phases.
The death of the Messiah after 69 of the 7's, and involving action into the first half of the last one, left just one half seven, literally 3.5 years, to go (SMR pp. 886ff., esp. 894ff.). As previously shown (cf. SMR pp. 959ff.), this period has been symbolised, following the affront to and assault on Christ the King; and it is awaiting His pleasure. The Messianic seven, HIS OWN, is first fulfilled to the midst, and He dies, and then rises, as predicted in Psalm 16 and elsewhere (cf. Joyful Jottings 25 ), and then administers the rest.
Thus He remains in control (cf. Matthew 28:18ff., Psalm 2:7-12) with His Father, sending forth His Spirit, as the One who determines and dispenses. This control is manifested in Daniel 9 when it states that He shall make firm the covenant with many (cf. Matthew 26:28 cf. SMR pp. 894ff.), and then cause the authorised sacrifice to cease (as predicted - cf. Isaiah 52-53, 66:1-4, Jeremiah 3:16), while making the temple desolate (as He indicated and indeed predicted would occur, as He foretold His rejection and execution - Luke 19:40ff., Mark 11:28-12:12). God does not OMIT the MAIN point of the Gospel, the vast emphasis made so often in His word, on the sacrificial potency for everlasting righteousness of His Son's death. Instead, He focusses it with that same economy of expression, pungency of clarity and yet, with that, lustre of determined mercy and gravity that moves in such brilliant divine action amid such murderous human folly. That folly is then shown proceeding to its climax, and His judgment, watchful and sure, proceeds to its height in its time. There is nothing rushed; there is nothing omitted. It is all sure.
Thus Daniel's prediction in Daniel 9 is not of an evil in control, but of God in authority; not of some creaturely facet in glittering array, but of the divine Lord, resurrected, asserting His authority in the midst of it all, and dispensing history with sovereign hand, yes UNTIL everlasting righteousness is brought in.
It is not brought in as if by some evil majesty, but DESPITE THIS with His own firm control, authority being given to Him, yes ALL power in heaven and on earth while He pours the desolation due onto the unrepentant dynamisms of controlled evil, even upon the whole desolate apparatus. There is 'one making desolate', there is 'that determined' which is poured duly on the sickening site of such a pretender (in parallel with II Thess.2:4-8), such insolence, upon the whole foolish scenario of arrogance and presumption, misuse and failure to realise the Messiah who IN HIMSELF is now the focus, not some site. Indeed how drastic in the end is that outpouring (Daniel 9:27) on the desolate.
There is a certain dueness, justice, proportion, appointment: it is DETERMINED because God has resolved. In material things, there is a a determinacy because God made the laws and procedures, the material protocols, being the lawgiver of all law. But in man's events the personal Lord makes personal provisions which, wrought with judgment and mercy, are nonetheless sure. Thus in this case: The LORD acts, the desolator enters, the Lord acts again, the end is on the desolation. What is determined is done! It is in this way that the divine conduct proceeds as from the first with the 70 year exile, to the last, with the sure conducting of the manner of salvation, so that it is indeed brought into the world, predicted, performed and paid for; and here it is duly and truly shown to be so, while its adversary is focussed only in his desolating and desolate end.
That is the way of things as they come to their forlorn conclusion after much bluster and ballyhoo; this is the way and place of deceit and theft, as if to steal the universe from its Maker and take a name, when only pretence and duplicity is there: the desolator acts, the desolation proceeds with divine apportionment of the woes on the way and the finale which manifests the impotence posturing of the evil incumbent. Such is the way of evil: as to God however, His is justice, even in salvation, the Messiah being brought to desolation (Daniel 9:26), cut off, and there is nothing for Him; but He is raised, and for Him are all things.
It is indeed His covenant (Daniel 9:27) which, already in existence, is ratified, confirmed (Hebrews 9:13-14), and as in Psalm 40, Psalm 22 His resurrection is pre-supposed; and indeed declared as in Psalms 2 and 16 (cf. Joyful Jottings25). It is thus that in Daniel 9, the requirements for everlasting righteousnessness are not omitted, as if overshadowed, indeed eclipsed into darkness by the power of darkness; or as if present in principle (9:24) but excused in practice, a sort of contradictory parody of James.
Nothing could be further from the emphasis of Psalm 2 as also Psalm 16. Alive, active, transcendent, and in judgment, the commanding centre of attention, the Messiah, the Prince, makes His people members of His covenant (Daniel 9:27) and voids the now fulfilled Old Testament sacrifices ( cf. Isaiah 66:2-3) which He confirms by fulfilling them, in Himself duly replacing them (as in Psalm 40:1ff., Isaiah 53)), so rendering sacrifices irrelevant. Meanwhile, an unbelieving (Jewish) nation (cf. Isaiah 49:7) has a different result. Excluding Christ, it excludes it thereby own mercy, and so suffers generations of desolation (Daniel 9:27, Matthew 24:1-2, Luke 19:42ff.). Thus the Messiah at work as such, after the 69 sevens, and later cut off, in the midst of the 70th week, by dying, annuls animal sacrifices, and fulfilling the 1st covenant of Moses with the 2nd in Himself, covers His 'many' (as in Matthew 26:28) till the end, with its vile, violent desolations.
For all this the seventy sevens are now seen in Daniel 9, to be prophetically unleashed. It is stated in 9:24, and we have now traced its detail as in Daniel 9:25-27.
THE VERSATILITY WITH CLARITY
The magnificent brilliance of the initial depiction of the besevened 70 of Daniel 9, inspired by God, is now seen. While the initial impact cannot rationally be distanced from its abundantly clear base in an actual 70 year exile, in precise and powerful focus in the actual context (Daniel 9:1ff.), yet the manner, the unusual manner of its statement, a seven-ing of the 70, and indeed, the emphatic word order (NOT seventy sevened, but 'sevened - seventy', i.e. with respect to the seventy it is a sevening that is to the forefront), not to mention the simple fact that it is 'seven' that is the literal term: all this means that the sevening is under jurisdiction. Its meaning is clear, but equally clear and emphatic is this: its meaning can be redefined at will, should circumstances arise to make this appropriate.
What however could make its unit length, or time, extend ? What would be appropriate ? one might ask. What might in some way on some day lead to an alteration of its eminently clear initial context ?
Why this: precisely such a thing as the crucifixion of the Prince. Here was the new impact, the novel dawning of a drastic day, one to end in darkness before its hours were up (Matthew 27:45). Here, with the very Prince of glory sacrificed, could come indeed an employment of the SEVEN concept to FIT with His dignity and glory and power. How deftly the Lord provides: it is clear, it is adequate, its arithmetical aspect is emphasised from the start, and it is significant to the end.
And what then might be the new dimension of the seven, when this extraordinary and infinitely insulting but gloriously effective thing, the crucifixion of Christ, happened ? Why a functional one to suit the Messiah! And what would better suit Him, one might ponder, than one which brought about by His death, would then allow its full significance, VIA THE GOSPEL, to be brought to all men! HENCE HE WOULD NOT RETURN, as Christ Himself stated, till the Gospel had gone throughout the earth (Matthew 24:14). It is THEN, He there declares, that the end will come.
It is this '3.5' notation of time which appears several times in the Book of Revelation. It circles as 42 months, 1260 days, times, times and half a time, 3 and one half days, and moves to the ultimate crisis as in Daniel 7 and Revelation 13:5, or to the overall period from Christ to Christ, virtually death to return as in Revelation 11. It jets, skis, cavorts like a swallow, reminding us constantly of Christ's words in Acts 1, that the TIME of the end is not available arithmetically, and in fact must await the WORK of the Christian Ministry to the world, being fulfilled. Details may even involve a fuller consummation in the final application (as in Daniel 12:7, with 12:11-12, in parallel with Daniel 2:35). Just as surely as the historic 69.5 7's of the 70 had to come to the Messiah, the remaining half-seven has to go till its work is finished.
We need thus to look at the two aspects of this thing.
If you were a Jew in the time of Daniel, dispossessed but blessed by continuing revelation from God, and about to be restored from disciplinary exile, you would see the tremendous focus that there would be on this figure of 70. In it has been incorporated much grief, much chastening, much soul searching. THAT was the number of your exile. From it would come deliverance, at its end: physical, national and personal. Its besevening to cover residual time in view, this would not pose any initial problem, proceeding till the very face of the Son of God was brutalised, and then at His pleasure till His will should be accomplished, to whom it had all pointed, and through whom, now that He had arrived and done His work, it would now be mediated.
Indeed, it would be inconceivable that the days and weeks and months and years of the exile endured - and this not merely emotionally, but endured with the realisation that the work of the Jewish testimony in Israel was for this time suspended in disgrace - would become merely surreal. It would not be simply used as a basis for what was not quite as real and sure, defined and definitive indeed as its base in Babylon.
WHEN however THIS grace
and mercy and reciprocity of time, in augmentation by 7 reached the NEXT
vast contribution of the Jewish nation (not the race) in
crucifixion of the Messiah, at 69.5 sevens on the scale of prophesied history,
then the WORK committed to the church would take precedence and this NEW
folly, one of regicide, again would change the consummation prospects
into desolation reality, long to be endured. Our eyes in 9:26-27 pass from
this much predicted desolation (cf. Luke 19:42ff.) for the Jews to
that evil eminence who would afflict the world till the time determined
was complete. The Jews themselves would endure till the the mercies of
Abraham again should intervene (SMR Appendix
A, pp. 755ff.), and until,
as in Zechariah 12:10 (and Romans 11:25f.) many would come to embrace the
forsaken Messiah, and hence their own mercy once more.
THE TIME AND POWER OF THE WITNESSES
For our part, then, in our generation, we are as just shown - with the earlier references added, to be dealing only with the last half of the last seven. It may be expressed as 1260 days or 42 months, for example. Things have moved along... since then, since those former days and this is the donation of time for our Age.
We are approaching,
in fact, the end. Let us look at the picture which gives attention to the
entire Gentile period and see the ending motions in the light of their
This has been around 2000 years so far, and there is only one body which relates to such a testimony for such a period - and it is the Christian Church. The TWO testimonial witnesses of Rev. 11, refer quite inescapably back to Zechariah 4, where they expressly represent the High Priest and the Prince in the rebuilding program for Jerusalem, which was active in the 5th and 4th century B.C.. In Zechariah 3:6ff., we have just seen the High Priest symbolised, and made to be a prototype for the coming Lord, the well-known and often noted Branch, the One to bear the sin (Zechariah 3:9 and Isaiah 49, 52:10-53:12), who is the Lord Himself in human format (Micah 5:1-3, Zechariah 12;10, Psalm 45, 72, 2).
But what of their powers ? James 5 indicates in terms of Elijah's faith what may be done in the Lord's name for His work, and the Bible is full of such things. The church not only suffers but testifies, and this mightily (cf. Luke 21;14-15), and Fox's Book of Martyrs has much testimony on this almost stunning testimony! Indeed, it would be less than frank if one did not acknowledge most clearly that the Lord has helped this present writer in ways which to him have appeared quite spectacular, in such matters; for where there was no help but in HIM, there He was! (cf. Isaiah 58:9). The Lord so helps millions who rely on Him. The joint effects of this total thrust from the presence of the Lord are vast.
The witnesses, the two, to represent the testimonial and ruling aspects of the church (cf. Zechariah 3:6-4:14), and embodying as a pair, the concept of a sure and safe report (cf. Deuteronomy 17:6, John 8:17): these are that great body of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 1:22-23), which has existed from His calling of it into existence, and in prototype, long before that.
WHEN THEREFORE these two witnesses are called: "COME UP HERE!" in Revelation 11:12, it fills what otherwise is a missing element in this testimonial of God's coming dealings with His people (Revelation 1). It does so as is very usual in this book, in symbols; and again, as is customary here, it is done in well-known and striking, well-attested Biblical symbols, thus tying together many things, which is one reason why the book of Revelation is like the best wine, very challenging to the palate, but well worth it!
Their lying 'dead'
in appearance for 31/2 days (Rev. 11:8-11) is one more play on the
half-week, or 3.5 theme, which not merely indicates the sense of GOVERNED
TIME, but reminds of what was lost in the crucifixion of Christ. It is
now HIS time, and the half-week is to be fulfilled at HIS discretion when
HE is ready and HIS program is complete, and when the requirement that
the gospel be preached to all the world, is deemed done! (cf. Acts 1:7-8,11).
The components of preparation for the ending of their testimony are nearly
complete. Pauses can occur in heaven (cf. Rev. 8:1, Daniel 12:7-12), but
the structure of things is both clear and determinate. As for the Lord's
return, that is the way it is intended to be (cf. Acts 1:7ff., Luke 21:28).
TO REVIEW CERTAIN ASPECTS
After all, let us summarise, literally, it was seventy SEVENS which were to pass for the fulfilment of prophecy to the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (Daniel 9:24-27: see E.J. Young, The Prophecy of Daniel, p. 195). The "weeks" term is merely a way of translating it. Sevens, the literal meaning, can be of any definable length; and while the first length was undoubtedly literal, the death of Christ led to His prolonging this period, quite explicitly as seen in Acts, until the Gospel need was fulfilled, and all might hear, while the testimony of truth made its various attestations, demonstrations and exposures in the meantime (cf. Ephesians 3:10ff.).
Of course (Daniel 9:1-4), Daniel had just been pondering the 70 year exile, prophetically determined for the Jewish people, and had resolved to fast and pray, since the time of its fulfilment - 'time to go home' as soldiers in a foreign battle field might feel - was in his mind. "Open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by Thy name; for we do not present our supplications before Thee for our righteousnesses, but for Thy great mercies. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive, O Lord hearken and do; do not defer, for Thine own sake..." (from Daniel 9:18-19). Hence it is clear that 70 years are focussed, and it will be in such terms of supplication we might legitimately expect a tender-hearted, heeding answer from the Lord.
Now the Lord addresses not merely the 70 year predicted, disciplinary exile imposed on the people, but explicitly, turns to the whole gamut of prophecy to the bringing in of everlasting righteousness (9:24). For THIS, a BESEVENING of 70 (Young, lit. loc.cit.) is to be required. As noted this does NOT mean weeks. It is sevens, and the participial form indicates this besevening. It thus comes out as : besevened seventy.
a teacher - and who better! - the Lord says, as it were,
Now Daniel, your concern is 70 and current return to Jerusalem, and its restoration.
Now look: I shall give you far beyond this. For the entire fulfilment to this vast showering of reconciliation and everlasting righteousness upon the earth, in the final domain and past the preliminaries, what ? not seventy but BESEVENED SEVENTY will come.
It will come: as to this is coming, it will ALL come. Let us be clear to the end, then. Not just this current point, but the entire global and human history disposition is under fine-tuned control and will assuredly happen.Nevertheless, that being said, it remains true that the term chosen is not ONLY seven, arithmetically, a sevening of the 70, but one which being in the unusual masculine gender (Young, loc.cit.) calls attention to this fact rather pointedly. Elasticity of concept is certainly present, although the immediate context is equally emphatically set in what has been a simple historical routine of a 70 which was expressed in years. Thus the POTENTIAL for the more general concept of 7 times 70 years is as surely present as is the initial reality that it is a magnification by the factor of 7 of what has just passed, which of course was seventy years. As seen elsewhere (SMR pp. 886ff.), this gives both an amazing prediction of the death date of the Messiah (9:26, cf 892-896, 943ff.) and a facility BECAUSE of that death, to allow the Church's gospel mission to be fulfilled at the Lord's own leisure, in the time both hidden and determined, which He shall set (Acts 1:6-8).
Here, following His resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ quite explicitly tells them to forget about knowing the precise point of the end, for that item is not their business, but to get on with the missioning, gospelling, teaching of the word until HE who has set it, makes that apparent. As He had already shown, it was part of the divine strategy that THIS BE NOT KNOWN (Matthew 24:42ff.), and this parting authorisation confirmed that directly.
Equally it has made yet more squalid and foolish the efforts to authenticate themselves of the various false christs and antichrists towards the end of our Age, since the time for THE MESSIAH is a couple of thousand years or so, too late! The measured time to the death of the Messiah is long over, and as we have shown (above refs.), it was to be in the vicinity of 30A.D.; and as it was to be, so it was.
Accordingly, the actual death of Christ did occur, right on time, more reliable even than old-time British rail: an attestation of the thrilling power of the Lord to consign events with precision in history, from long before, to say it and to do it, as none could (as declared to be the case in Isaiah 48); for in the precision of this prophecy is involved the millions of decisions over hundreds of years from the time it was made till it was fulfilled: in this time were the myriads of people any one of whom, doing something NOT foreseen, could overthrow any such prophecy in a moment.
None did, because ALL is foreseen and foreknown, carefully composed in the DIVINE SYMPHONY: its graces and rebukes, its opportunities and its grandeur. As the death, so the resurrection pre-announced a thousand years, duly proceeded unable to be delayed or thwarted, adjusted or consumed!
What then of these innovators, this other Jesus contingent of hopefuls, these twentieth century messiahs ? They strut onto the scene, a couple of thousand years out of kilter, two millenia or so too late; and even for today's wild religions, this is not really ... adequate!
Meanwhile, the actual end of the 70 7's, taken in one unaltered pattern, would be in the AD 30's:
Nevertheless, the full manifestation of the victory, the final sealing up of the prophecy is still to come, in the Messianic rule on earth, while the final ruin of the devil awaits (Daniel 9:24 -'to seal up vision and prophecy'). It is towards this phase that the disciples would have been looking (cf. Acts 1:4-8), and it is here that the final session of the final half-seven in its final magnitude is kept back at the Messiah's discretion with His Father (andHe has assuredly earned this ! - cf. Revelation 5:1-10). It is this phase which we see in high focus in Daniel 12:8-12:13, in Revelation 11 and in the Lord's announcement that it was NOT for them to know the final timing of the 'settlement' at the end (Acts 1:6-7, cf. Luke 24:44-49).
Indeed, it is this phase of PROCLAMATION of the FINISHED WORK of CHRIST leading to His manifest place in power on earth (as in Isaiah 66:23, Micah 7, Isaiah 2, Amos 4, and all in this in the light of Isaiah 65:13-16), which is in view in Isaiah 66:18-21 (cf. Romans 15:7-16, and see SMR pp. 791ff., 875), and especially in the last of these verses.
The rains have come; the seed is being sown continually; the growth is occurring, the comings and goings occur, the church raises the standard (Isaiah 59:19) even as "the enemy comes in like a flood"; the world languishes in its rebellion; but the Lord shall come personally in triumphant brilliance (II Thess. 1) to complete this whole symphony of grace (cf. Zechariah 14). In this epochal finale, following the return of the Jews (SMR Appendix A), and the restoration of Jerusalem (as in Luke 21:24). "The Redeemer will come to Zion" - Isaiah 59:20, Romans 11:25-26.
the 70 7's goes on to its climax. The two witnessing completing their tour
de force which is likewise a tour of grace with the gospel - but let us
return to the detail of our interest, in Revelation 11:7-11.
THE THREE AND ONE HALF DAYS
What, then, of the 31/2 days in which the witnesses lie as dead in Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8 - or rather their 'bodies' so lie), just before their call to heaven ? THIS ...
1) This is undoubtedly a VERY short period, as it is one in which gifts are exchanged in a party-like spirit, by those rejoicing in their apparent disaster.
2) While the gates of hell shall NOT, by assured divine promise, prevail against the Church of Jesus Christ (Matthew 16), yet there is to be vast falling away (II Thessalonians 2) which will reveal, like a virus laid up in a rose's place the evil one, the mystery of iniquity reaching its culmination in the devil's messiah (cf. SMR pp. 721 *11, 743ff., 750Bff., 732Bff., 505ff., 513, 929, Biblical Blessings Ch. 2), a vain figure (II Thessalonians 2:4,9), and one both deceived and deceptive.
Hence at the acme, when the power of evil is bursting on the groaning earth (cf. Matthew 24:22, 5ff.), there will be appearance of slaughter of the church (cf. Revelation 12:11-12, 12:17, 17:6, Matthew 24:3,9, Luke 21:12, 16) as if its large organised outwardness ('body') would equate its inner inability to be crushed. No more indeed, the outward finery, now the reality of faith would continue for a very short time, without the clear and obvious demonstration of public appearance. In Russia and China how much towards such a state has been done, from time to time, as if a prelude!
It might then seem that all was destroyed because the outward apparatus was no longer public, and that the body was dead. Indeed, into the large outward body, increasingly compromised with statecraft (as in the Chinese control mechanism and 3 self church and so on, formal ways of masquerading as righteousness while simply acting to subvert), there come false teachers according to plan (II Peter 2:1ff., I Timothy 4:1ff., II Timothy 3ff., Jude) whose role is a very searching one, and MANY, as Peter declares, will follow this chary charade, this fifth column, this quisling apparatus, this deceitful device. MANY will be purified on the other hand, and made white (Daniel 12:10). The dimensions of the test and of this phase of the music are of the grandest magnitude.
This fits precisely with what is said elsewhere, not only in II Thessalonians 2, but in Daniel 12:10, 7:21.
3) Just as all seems won by the machinations of evil, then all is lost. Their 'triumph' is ephemeral, their deceit exposed, their darkness fleeing before the light of the returning Lord. First, the witnesses are raptured (Revelation 11:12), and received (Revelation 19:5-9), then the Word of God, Lord of Lords and King of Kings, taking His time, appears (Revelation 19:13-20). Then the evil devil's messiah will the Lord "consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming" , being "revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance" on those who did not know God, even on those who did not obey the Gospel, being rebellious.
Far is this from the Gospel Age, when there is a coming NOT to judge the world but that it might be saved (John 3:16-17). THIS is JUDGMENT! Long has it waited (II Peter 3:9), in a whole expanded duration of grace. Now is the happening phase, the motion motif.
As the coming of Christ FOR His saints was like "the lightning which comes from the East and flashes to the West", a thing of moments, "in the twinkling of an eye" ( Matthew 24:27, I Cor. 15:52), so His return will be militant, confrontational, corrosive and destructive of evil, categorically overthrowing the whole power and presence of evil in any form of rule whatsoever, in an advent both sudden and devastating.
is the power of God is manifested, the doom awaiting the fraudulent
misusers of faith on their defeated and delinquent heels; and the
Word of God looms with the brightness of doom, declares itself with
the fashion of passion, judgment no longer stayed, and He comes with power
to prevail against those whose ruin of the earth is proudly associated
with the joint ruin of their own souls (Revelation 19:8 with 19:11-21).