We now turn to the testimony of our Lord and of His apostles. Having been rejected by the Jewish leaders, He intimates that He is about to depart and leave their house “desolate” (Matt. 23. 37, 38). “Ye shall not see Me”, He then adds, “till ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (v. 29). It is clear, therefore, that He will “come” again to Israel and that He will be welcomed by the nation.
The next chapter describes this coming (vv. 3, 29-31). It makes mention of what will be seen in the temple (v. 15) and of people fleeing from Judaea (v. 16), details of which plainly imply that when He returns Israel will be regathered to her own land.
In Luke 21 the Lord foretells the destruction of Jerusalem, and informs us that it will be “trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (v. 24). This period of Gentile domination will be terminated by “the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (v. 27), and the “redemption” of the Jewish people will then be accomplished (v. 28). If Israel is not to have a future this prophecy seems meaningless.
Again, in Luke 22. 30 our Lord assures His disciples that they will “eat and drink at His table in His kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” These words can only be understood in a literal sense. They imply that all Israel will yet be reunited, and they thus confirm Isaiah 11. 13; Ezekiel 37. 15-25, at which we have already looked. It should be noted that far from turning away the disciples’ minds from the prospect of an earthly kingdom, our Lord in these passages plainly teaches that Israel is destined by God to fill a glorious role in days yet to come. If the nation has no future His words are grossly misleading. We know, of course, that in several other passages He did set before His own the coming bliss and joy of heaven, but this is in no way inconsistent with the hopes of coming earthly felicity as cherished by the Jewish people.
The testimony of the Apostles is to the same effect. James tells the council of Acts 15 that “the tabernacle of David which is fallen down” will be “built again” (v. 16). Paul declares that the hardening of the Jewish people at the present time is but partial, and only “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in” (Romans 11. 25), when the natural branches will be regrafted into the Olive Tree (vv. 23, 24). Finally, John, like Isaiah, Ezekiel, and his Lord foresees all Israel’s twelve tribes reunited (Rev. 7. 1-8). Observe that this is an earthly, not a heavenly scene, “the earth” being mentioned five times in verses 1-3, and that this Israelitish multitude, “sealed” by angelic ministry, is to be distinguished from the great gathering of saved Gentiles which he sees in verses 9-17. In the present dispensation saved Jews and Gentiles are “all one in Christ Jesus”, but not so here where the scene belongs to the future post-church period.
Having regard to the plain, consistent testimony of these Old and New Testament passages, to which several others could be added, it seems amazing that anyone professing the conservative, evangelical view of Holy Scripture should deny a future golden era for Israel. To do so renders many portions of the Word quite unintelligible, misrepresents their clear statements, undermines the authority and finality of the inspired Volume, and opens the door to the most whimsical and fanciful interpretations. Let the simple believer, however, rest assured that God’s Word means just what it says, and that therefore the promise of Israel’s future earthly national glory cannot possibly be annulled. As Erich Sauer has so finely said in “The Triumph of the Crucified”, this promise “abides unchanged for the sake of God’s honour (Ezekiel 36. 22, 23), and truthfulness (Romans 15. 8), and for the sake of Abraham, His friend (Gen. 26. 2-5; Lev. 26. 42). Holy Scripture shows this to be as secure as :—
The firmness of the mountains, Isaiah 54. 10;
The order of nature, Isaiah 54. 9;
The course of day and night, Jer. 33. 20, 21, 25, 26;
The laws of sun, moon, and stars, Jer. 31. 35-37; Psalm 89. 36, 37;
The everlastingness of the New Heavens and the New Earth, Isaiah 66. 22.”
THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
Sauer’s reference here to Abraham, God’s friend, should be carefully noted. It will be upon the basis of God’s covenant with that patriarch that every promise made to the nation of Israel will ultimately be fulfilled. The Abrahamic Covenant thus assumes the most profound significance in Holy Scripture, which abounds with references to it. The blessings of this Covenant:
Were pledged to the natural seed of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, Gen. 26. 2-4; 28. 4, 13, etc.
Ensured to Abraham a great posterity, Gen. 12. 2.
Guaranteed blessing to all the families of the earth through his posterity, Gen. 12. 3.
Promised the Land of Palestine as the future home of the seed of Abraham. In the promises to Abraham, which were later renewed to Isaac and Jacob, the Land is mentioned at least 18 times in Genesis, as follows :
Confirmed to the natural descendants of these three Patriarchs, once, in Ch. 50. 24.
Defined the geographical boundaries of the Land, Ch. 15. 18-21. This promise has never yet had a complete fulfilment, so there must be a future for Israel. The book of Joshua records the conquest of Palestine. The occupation there, however, was only partial. A-Millennialists have been quick to object to this by pointing to Joshua 21. 43 : “So the Lord gave unto Israel all the land . . . and they possessed it and dwelt therein”; but Dr. N. C. Deck has dealt satisfactorily with this objection in “The Case For Futurism“The verbs in the opening statement”, he says, “are in the imperfect tense, denoting incomplete or progressive activity.” In support of this he has quoted Dr. Young’s Literal Translation : “and the Lord giveth unto Israel all the land . . . and they are possessing it, and are dwelling in it.” That the people did not fully possess the land in Joshua’s day because of their unbelief is clearly stated in Judges 2. 20-25. Nor did they fully possess it even in Solomon’s reign, when the kingdom shone at the zenith of its glory. “At best,” says Prof. John Walvoord, “it (the land) was placed under tribute, as the very passage cited by the A-Millennialists indicates (1 Kings 4. 21)”. Israel therefore must still come into full possession of the Land in accordance with the terms of the Abrahamic Covenant, and Ezekiel 47, where its future borders are carefully defined, assures us that she will.
Granted the Land to be “an everlasting possession”, Gen. 13. 15: 17. 8; 48. 4. This promise also still awaits fulfilment. Israel has not yet come into permanent possession of Palestine. On two tragic occasions she has been carried from her beloved soil. For 1900 years now she has been scattered and peeled among the nations. The nation will be regathered, however. Not even one Israelite will be left in Gentile countries (Ezekiel 39. 28), and then permanent possession of the Land will be hers. Never again will God hide His face from her (Ezekiel 39. 29). By “everlasting covenant” (Gen. 17. 7, 13; 17. 19) Israel will have “everlasting possession” of Palestine.
Were made to the Patriarch, unconditionally. Nothing was said to depend upon Abraham or his descendants. It was a Covenant of pure grace, absolute and irrevocable. All rested upon the sole decree of God. On several occasions afterwards Abraham disobeyed God, but the Covenant was not on that account abrogated. It therefore remains valid. “The law which came 430 years later cannot annul (it)” (Gal. 3. 17). The Jewish people, too, have sinned deeply. Yet “for all that they have done, saith the Lord” Israel will not be cast off (Jer. 31. 37). The blessings of God’s unconditional Covenant cannot be jeopardized by the nation’s failure. “The gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11. 29).
Were confirmed by a divinely, accepted sacrifice (Gen. 15. 9-20), and ratified by a most solemn Divine oath (Gen. 22. 16-18; Heb. 6. 13-18). God is honour bound therefore, by His Word and by His Oath, both of which are immutable. to fulfil every clause of the Abrahamic Covenant. Abraham’s descendants through Jacob must yet inherit the Promised Land as an everlasting possession. To teach otherwise would be tantamount to denying the faithfulness and integrity of God, or alternatively, of rejecting the Divine inspiration and authenticity of Holy Scripture.
A REMARKABLE panorama of future events calls for our attention in chapters 19-22 of this prophecy, including the removal of hostile elements on earth and the marriage and nuptial feast of the Bridegroom-King, ere He returns from heaven to end His session at the right hand of God, the period of His patience and expectation (Hebrews 10. 13). There lies before Him the work of restoring all things in this sin-disrupted scene as God has promised. It is wholly unreasonable to make the words of Acts 3. 21 to mean anything less than Christ's return to earth in power and glory, to remove the alien forces of Satan and his satellites, and to bring redemption to a groaning creation (Romans 8. 22-23), when the tokens of the curse will be dispelled. These words of the Apostle Peter to the multitudes in Jerusalem should be carefully pondered by any who would make Old Testament prophecy to have no literal fulfilment in the age to come. “The restoration of all things whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets which have been since the world began” (Acts 3. 20-21). The inspired Apostle saw “the times of restoration” timed to take place at the second coming of Christ and fulfilling literally the predictions of Old Testament prophets (Isaiah 2. 3-4; 4. 4-6, etc.). The above, taken in conjunction with the Lord’s own promise in Matthew 19. 28 : “In the regeneration when the Son of Man cometh”, makes perfectly clear that a temporal and moral reconditioning of earthly things will initiate the world-empire of the Son of Man. This is the grand theme upon which with thrilling hearts we can now embark.
The prelude to this earthly Kingdom is set in Heaven in a scene of praise and jubilation (19. 1-10). With one voice Heaven swells the praises of the God of righteousness Who has visited Satan’s counterfeit Bride with fitting judgment. Babylon’s abominations are no more. The “Hallelujah” must needs be repeated, and the twenty-four elders with the four living creatures prostrate themselves in worship as they echo this “PRAISE THE LORD.” A further cause for adoring praise is the proclamation of the reign of the rightful Lord and King, seen now as the Bridegroom whose marriage, wife and marriage-supper are at once introduced.
The fact that Jehovah had spoken of Himself as being married to Israel as an earthly people (Jeremiah 3. 14), who for infidelity to their Divine Husband were given a bill of divorce and are yet to be betrothed to Him for ever (Jeremiah 3. 8; Hosea 2. 19-20), does not by any means preclude the marriage of Christ to a heavenly people. The symbolism in either case is that of deepest affection and sublimest intimacy. What is presented in our chapter is the ultimate blessedness of Christ and His Church. Can you read Ephesians 5. 22-23 without this being forced upon your thinking? The great mystery of Christ and the Church gathers round three sublime facts :— First, the purchase of a people for Himself, because of His love for her. Second, the preparation of a people for Himself because of His character. She must be sanctified. Third, the presentation of a people to Himself because of His purpose. He must have her by His side. And all this is portrayed on a background of marriage union.
This presentation to Himself of the Bride has obviously just taken place and the marriage consummates it. Now it is said, “Let us rejoice and be exceeding glad and give glory unto Him, for the marriage of the Lamb is come and the Bride hath made herself ready” (19. 5). The Bride appears in white linen, declared to be “the righteous acts of the saints.” The individual Christian puts on the robe of righteousness (Phil. 3. 9; Isaiah 61. 10), for acceptance with God, but the corporate company of saints is permitted by her Sovereign Lord and Lover to appear on this splendid occasion in these garments of purity and beauty, composed of deeds of righteousness which she has done. His loving eye will assess every worthy action that has had His honour in view. “She has made herself ready” : no doubt the Bema is implied, for, to that every intelligent believer looks with a longing that we may not be “ashamed before Him at His coming” (1 John 2. 28).
The marriage itself is followed by a festal scene—“the marriage-supper of the Lamb.” The beautiful symbolism indicates that the united joy of Christ and the Church is to be witnessed and shared by guests who are specially invited to be present on this unique and joyful occasion, and their privilege is accentuated by the wording of their invitation. “Happy are they who are summoned to the marriage supper of the Lamb” (v. 9). Here we can anticipate the presence of John the Baptist and that great company of saints, who like the herald of Christ can claim friendship with the Bridegroom, without being included in His “Bride.” They will have their own peculiar joy and sphere of service. Their being centred in Christ and made perfect by Him will preclude any unwholesome comparison of place or privilege.
The opening of Heaven, wherever recorded, betokens something of extraordinary interest and importance (Matt. 3. 16; Acts 7. 56). The case in Ch. 19. 11 is remarkable. The scene of action changes from Heaven to Earth as a glorious Personality emerges from the courts above. It is Jehovah-Sabaoth, “the Lord of Hosts” (Isaiah 6. 3). It is the Lord, “a man of war” (Exodus 15. 3). “It is the Judge of all the earth” (Gen. 18. 25). It is the Son of Man (c/f. 1. 13 and 19. 12-15; Matt. 25. 31-32). It is the Avenger of His people (Isaiah 63. 1-6). It is Christ, “the Word of God” (v. 13). It is “the King of kings” and Lord of lords” (v. 16). He wears the Diadem, He holds the sceptre, He suppresses the rebels, He smites the nations, He expresses the indignation of God. He comes in awful majesty and devastating might to subjugate the great ones of the earth, who have “set themselves against the Lord and His Christ.” “He shall have them in derision.” “He shall speak unto them in His wrath and vex them in His sore displeasure” (Psalm 2).
There unfolds before us now the doom of earth’s greatest amalgamation of military forces. The returning King will break in upon the contending armies of East and West converging upon Jerusalem. The Beast and False Prophet will at this time be locked in deadly battle with the Asiatic nations, when they shall be taken by the Conquering Son of Man and cast alive into the Lake of Fire while their followers are destroyed by death. In this great act of retribution Christ will take His place as the Sovereign of earth as revealed in Zechariah 14. 1-9. “The Stone cut out without hands” will have desolated at one blow “the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver and the gold of human empire, of Gentile domination, and the Stone will become the Mountain that fills the whole earth (Daniel 2. 44)—in scriptural imagery the Kingdom that rules over all the sons of men (Isaiah 2. 2-4).
THE LORD JESUS CHRIST gave two special commandments to His disciples. Early in His public ministry we read that He baptized many disciples (John 4. 1-4), and when giving the Great Commission (Matt. 28. 18-20) He commanded His disciples to baptize those who became disciples as a result of their preaching. The second special commandment concerned the Lord’s Supper, which He instituted the night that He was betrayed, as we saw in Chapter 3. Both of these ordinances are to be observed until our Lord returns (Matthew 28. 20; 1 Cor. 11. 26). We shall consider them in turn.
The command to baptize was given by the Lord Himself in Matthew 28. 19. Baptism should be done “in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”
“Baptize” is really a Greek word meaning to “dip” or “immerse.” John the Baptist baptized at Aenon, “because there was much water there” (John 3. 23).
The meaning of baptism is explained in Romans 6. 3-11. Baptism is a picture of our identification with Christ in His death, burial and resurrection. The person baptized proclaims to the world that he has died, been buried, and raised again with Christ, and that he henceforth desires to live to please Him. Baptism is observed only once in the life of the believer. “Infant baptism” is not mentioned in the New Testament.
2. THE LORD’S SUPPER.
This ordinance was instituted by the Lord Jesus the night before He died on the cross. It, like baptism, is a picture of the Lord’s death. The separation of the blood from the body means death. An account of its institution is given in Matthew 26. 26-29, Mark 14. 22-25, Luke 20. 19, 20, and another, with more detailed explanations, in 1 Cor. 11. 23-27. The preceding chapter (vv. 14-22) and the context of 11. 17-34 should be noted.
There are two elements in the Lord’s Supper:
bread, which is a picture of the body of the Lord Jesus, given as a sacrifice for us on the cross (Matthew 26. 26).
wine, which is a picture of His blood, shed on the cross for the remission of sins (Matthew 26. 27, 28).
Our eating and drinking signifies that all of our life comes from His death for us.
(To live a man must breathe, eat and drink. Baptism for one moment stops our breathing: in the Lord’s Supper we both eat and drink).
The Lord’s Supper is to be observed, not once, like baptism, but often. Acts 20. 7 shows us how the early Christians met on the first day of the week, the Lord’s Day, to eat the Lord’s Supper.
These are the only two ordinances which the Lord Jesus gave to His disciples. Marriage goes back to the creation of Man. Confirmation, “Holy Orders”, Extreme Unction, and the other so called “sacraments” of the Church of Rome are all man-made.
A local church seeking to carry out all that our Lord commanded will be careful to give due place to these special ordinances which He Himself instituted.
“They that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh, but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit: for to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace”—Romans 8. 5-6.
1.—The fleshly mind. Col. 2. 18.
1.—The renewed mind. Rom. 12. 2.
2.—The defiled mind. Titus 1. 15.
2.—The pure mind. 2 Peter 3. 1.
3.—The blinded mind. 2 Cor. 4. 4.
3.—The enlightened mind. Heb. 10. 16.
4.—The high mind. 2 Tim. 3. 4.
4.—The lowly mind. Phil. 2. 3-5.
5.—The worldly mind. Phil. 3. 19.
5.—The heavenly mind. Col. 3. 2 (R.V.).
6.—The corrupt mind. 2 Tim. 3. 8.
6.—The sound mind. 2 Tim. 1. 7.
7.—The reprobate mind. Rom. 1. 28.
7.—The approved mind. Phil. 4. 8.
Things honest, good and true :
Things lovely, just, and pure,
On everything praiseworthy think,
And seek to make your calling sure.
“Bringing into captivity every thought, To the obedience of Christ”, 2 Cor. 10. 5.
I WAS eating a piece of water melon years ago, and was struck with its beauty. I took some of the seeds, and dried them and weighed them. I found that it would require 5000 seeds to weigh a pound, and then I applied mathematics to that four-pound melon. One of these seeds put into the ground, when warmed by the sun and moistened by the rain, takes off its coat and goes to work, it gathers from somewhere 200,000 Times its Own Weight, and, forcing this raw material through a tiny stem, constructs a water melon. It ornaments the outside with green, inside the green it puts a layer of white, and within the white a coat of red, and all through the red it scatters seeds, each one capable of continuing the work of reproduction.
What architect drew the plan? Where does that little seed get its tremendous strength? Where does it? How does it collect the flavouring extract? How does it build a water melon? Until you can explain a water melon, do not be too sure that you can limit the ability of the Almighty, or say just what He would do or how He would do it. Everything that lives in like manner mocks by its mystery, beauty, and power the proud intellect of presumptuous man.
At the beginning of another year we warmly greet our many readers, near and far. May our Father’s blessing be theirs in unstinted measure in the months to come.
How quickly the old year has passed, and what “distress of nations” it has witnessed! Distrust and unrest mark earth’s millions. Amongst the working classes, strikes, official and unofficial, are the order of the day. In one international crisis after another mankind has stood upon the brink of global conflict, with all its unspeakable horrors, and indeed was nearer to it in recent months than at any time since the second World War. What loss of life too, there has been through air, rail, road, and mine disasters, and what thousands have perished from avalanches gales, hurricanes, floods, tidal waves, earth tremors, famines, and civil war clashes in different countries! Still man rushes on in increasing wickedness and violence, as in the days of Noah, and God’s warning voices are unheeded. At the same time the apostate Protestant systems unite more and more with each other, and longingly reach out to embrace their “Mother” Church—the great “harlot” system of Rev. 17. 5.
As we enter 1963, new dilemmas face the nations—the Common Market, the Nuclear threat, earth’s hungry millions, and overshadowing all, the menace of atheistic Communism. Was the world ever in such a plight? and are we not witnessing the death throes of a decaying age which has already grown old? To us the people of God, however, these are but the harbingers of coming day. “It is high time to awake out of sleep . . . the night is far spent the day is at hand” (Rom. 13. 11, 12). Our Lord’s Return is imminent, brethren. Do we really believe it? Does the thought of it thrill our spirits? And does love for a lost world stir our souls to action in the little while that remains ?
A year ago we requested prayer for our brethren McCalister and Jardine, both of whom had been ill and in hospital. We thank God for the goodly measure of their recovery. Mr. Jardine who is well known as a ministering brother on both side of the Atlantic, will shortly be concluding his much appreciated series of papers upon Revelation in our pages. Dr. McMillan, a gifted servant of the Lord in India, continues to write upon The Church, a much needed line of truth to-day. We thank our two brethren for their interesting and helpful papers, and it is to be hoped that each of their series will be made available to the saints in book form.
The present writer continues his series upon A-Millennialism. This insidious teaching has come much into prominence in recent years. As nothing known to us was being written in other assembly periodicals to safeguard God’s people against its errors, it was felt to be our bounden duty to raise some standard against it in “Assembly Testimony”—hence the current series. Letters received indicate that these papers are meeting a much felt need in many parts, and for this we are most thankful. It is ever our exercise before the Lord to endeavour to supply ministry suitable to the requirements of the hour.
“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3. 16).
At the beginning of another year we are glad to record the continued demand for “Assembly Testimony.” It greatly encourages us in this work for the Lord, to find so many of His redeemed people, situated though they be in many lands around the globe, manifesting a deep interest in the ministry of God’s Word, and their appreciation of this little magazine encourages us to seek help from the Lord to continue its publication, in His holy will.
We praise the faithfulness of our God in connection with past issues. We thank the Lord’s people for their continued remembrance of us in prayer. We give thanks to God for the recovery of brother Bunting, who is now free to engage in the Gospel and in ministry. We also thank those dear saints whose hearts have been exercised to share in the costs of production, and we are most grateful for the practical fellowship that many assemblies have shown us, during the past and earlier years. Resulting from this warm fellowship we can joyfully record, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.’’
That we have had our trials goes without saying. The past year brought us the sorrow of losing- some whose counsel and practical fellowship were a joy to share. Being “with Christ”, and their work finished, they are “far better.” Some we miss because of their cheery smile and encouraging word. Others, unknown to us personally, sought to encourage by their pens. We thank God for their memory. Criticism reaches us at times, but we have often been thankful for some suggestions made. As stewards, for the information of all our readers, we reiterate that all contributions received by us, are expended solely in defraying costs of printing, despatch and postage. No financial consideration has been given to contributors of articles at any time. All work is performed purely in an honorary capacity. Amongst our trials, the past year has witnessed increased costs in the printing trade, and postage increased substantially. (An anomaly now existent is that postage on a single copy around the corner in a town in Britain costs more than a copy to the Antipodes!). Small wonder then, that we feel so thankful that our faithful God has graciously given us help to continue to supply a copy or copies to every one that asked. The past year again brought fresh requests from new readers, which it was our joy to supply.
Having regard to the facts governing the issue of our magazine, it can be appreciated that the responsibility devolves upon us to avoid waste of any kind. We therefore appeal to any who do not desire to receive the paper to let us know, or where parcels are received, that the correct numbers are ordered so that there shall be no waste. Please return unwanted copies. Where new requests are made, or numbers are to be changed, please help us by giving names and addresses in BLOCK LETTERS, to reduce waste in preparing plates, etc.
May our gracious God give to every reader a keen desire to feast on the rich fare of His Storehouse, and to walk in “the old paths” of His truth, and to this end use the ministry of “Assembly Testimony” for His glory.
UNCLE JOHN VASSAR, an eccentric but marvellously successful soul-winner, once saw two ladies in the parlour of a Boston hotel, and immediately inquired if they were at peace with God, and kindly and earnestly preached Jesus to them, and urged them to make ready for death and judgment by accepting Him as Saviour and Lord.
A few moments later the husband of one of them came and found them in tears. He inquired for the reason, when his wife said : “A strange man has been talking to us about religion and urging us to get right with God.”
“Well,” said the man, “if I had been here I should have told him to go about his business.”
“My dear,” replied his wife, “if you had been here, you would have thought he was about his business.”
A HOLY LIFE is made up of a number of small things: little words, not eloquent speeches or sermons; little deeds, not miracles or battles, nor one great heroic act of mighty martyrdom, make up the true Christian life.
The little constant sunbeam, not the lightning; the waters of Shiloah “that go softly” (Isaiah 8. 6), in the meek mission of refreshment, not the “waters of the river, great and many,” rushing down in noisy torrents, are the true symbols of a holy life.
The avoidance of little evils, little sins, little inconsistencies, little weaknesses, little follies, indiscretions, and imprudences, little foibles, little indulgences of the flesh; the avoidance of such little things as these goes far to make up, at least, the negative beauty of a holy life.