THE OLD TESTAMENT HOUSE OF THE LORD: EIGHTEEN (EXCERPT OF THE TABERNACLE OF THE CONGREGATION)
Copyright © 2013 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved
“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Eighteen” is taken from The Tabernacle of the Congregation, copyright © 2011 Trumpet Ministries
The Seed of Abraham
Table of Contents
The Christian Church Is “Zion” of the Old Testament
Nations Bow Before the Church
The Manifestation of the Sons of God
The Trumpet of Jubilee
The Concept of Resurrection
The Seed of Abraham
There are two misunderstandings of doctrine that confuse the concept of Christians being a royal priesthood in Christ. We already have mentioned the first misunderstanding. It is the commonly held belief that the goal of the Christian salvation is attaining residence in Heaven. It is a fact that Heaven is a definite place. Heaven is more substantial than any geographical area on earth because the inhabitants, places, and things of Heaven are not perishable.
The spirits of Christians who have gone on before are there. People are recognizable, as are the angels, and live in a glorious paradise of joy and happiness. When a Christian dies he is “gathered to his people.” The Christian dead (who are not dead at all, for no believer in Christ can die—we have eternal life) are living active, intelligent lives in Heaven, according to our understanding.
Every genuine Christian goes to Heaven to be with Jesus. Heaven is our birthright, our homeland, the place of our citizenship. There is no need to attain Heaven. Also, if a person receives Christ as Lord and Savior he will be saved in the Day of Judgment. He will be brought forward to live in the new world of righteousness.
However, the goal of the program of redemption is not eternal residence in Heaven, although every true Christian looks forward with gladness of heart to going to Heaven. Rather, the goal of the Christian discipleship is the “prize of the high (upward) calling of God in Christ,” which is knowing Christ, knowing the power of His resurrection, experiencing the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable to His death. Such is the first resurrection and it indeed is an attainment toward which we are to press.
The first resurrection is associated with rulership with Christ as a governing priest.
The second misunderstanding is that there are two separate sets of people with whom God is dealing: a Jewish church and a Gentile church. As long as the believer holds such a viewpoint he cannot understand the writings of the Prophets. He will think the Prophet is referring to a Jewish church, and the destiny of the Christian Church will remain unclear.
The truth is, there is only one Church, one people of God. There never has been and never will be two separate groups of called-out people, Jewish and Christian. The Christian salvation is to the Jew first. The Israelites were God’s anointed people under the old covenant and the Christians are God’s anointed people under the new covenant. The term Christian has nothing to do with being a Jew or Gentile.
The oneness of the anointed family of God is a fundamental fact of the Kingdom of God. When this fact is changed the entire plan and program of redemption is thrown into disarray.
Observe the impact of the birth of Christ on the Hebrew people:
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: (Luke 1:68-70)
If there were two separate churches, a Jewish and a Christian, to which of the two would the above passage apply?
The Christian Gospel began with Abraham. Abraham is the father of all believers in Christ. There is one Seed of Abraham. All of the promises of God are to the one Seed.
The same Holy Spirit who spoke to Abraham spoke also to Moses, Gideon, Joel, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Malachi, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and to you if you are a Christian and of the Seed of Abraham.
There never has been any called-out people (church) of God other than the one Seed of Abraham. Until this fact is grasped the prophecies of the first covenant remain unintelligible. Israel is the Church of God. It always has been and always shall be.
What does Galatians proclaim?
Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham. And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed. So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham. (Galatians 3:6-9)
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:14)
How, then, could we Christians believe there are two separate churches, one Jewish and one Gentile?
Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ. (Galatians 3:16)
The promise of fruitfulness, of dominion, and of blessing to the nations of the earth, can be applied only to “Abraham and his seed.” The Seed of Abraham is Christ. In fact, a Jew who has not been born again in Christ cannot receive the promises directed toward the Seed of Abraham. If a person has not been born again, whether he is a Jew or Gentile, he can neither see nor enter the Kingdom of God.
Many promises of the Old Testament spoke to the physical nation of Israel. But the Messianic promises of the Old Testament, those pertaining to the eternal Kingdom of God, always are directed toward Christ and those who are part of Him.
Why, then, the fifteen hundred years of Israel under the Law?
Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19)
The Messianic promises of God leaped over Israel and came to rest on the Babe of Bethlehem. The promise of the restoration of the Presence of God to the earth, that which was lost in Eden, applies neither to Jew nor Gentile. The promise applies only to Christ. When we are born again, Christ is in us. The promise of God abides on Him who is in us. This is true whether we are a Jew or a Gentile; but the blessing is directed to the Jew first, then to the Gentile.
Christ is God’s Olive Tree (Romans 11:17).
For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29)
The Christian Church is “Zion” of the Old Testament
As soon as we understand that there is but one group of called-out people, only one Church, the prophecies of the Old Testament take on direct meaning for us. We Christians are the holy city, the new Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Israel of God.
But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (Hebrews 12:22)
Some of the Divine promises given through the Hebrew Prophets apply directly to the physical land and people of Israel. There are promises that were fulfilled in the past, others are being fulfilled in the present, and there are those that will be brought to pass in the future. Every such promise shall come to pass. The Church of Christ will never supplant those promises.
Beginning with Abraham, the Spirit of God spoke of the Messianic Kingdom. Every member of the Messianic Kingdom, beginning with Abraham, is a member by promise, by election. In a sense, the Church, the Messianic Kingdom, always has been separate from the physical land and people of Israel.
At one time the members of the Messianic Kingdom were found exclusively among the physical Jews. After the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, the Messianic Kingdom (the Olive Tree) was extended to include elect Gentiles. As soon as the full number of elect Gentiles have been brought into the family of God, the Messianic Kingdom will turn once again to the physical land and people of Israel and all Israel, meaning all the members of the Olive Tree, of Christ, will be saved.
Let us read Isaiah, for example, with the oneness of the people of God in mind.
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:1)
This is referring to the events surrounding the second coming of our Lord, Christ. The power and Glory of God will be given to the Church, the Body of Christ, at that time (Romans 8:18; Colossians 3:4).
For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. (Isaiah 60:2; John 17:21-23)
Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. When He comes to gather together His elect, the world will be forced to acknowledge that the favor of Almighty God has come upon the Church. This is the point at which Zion, the city of God, will be established as the supreme government of the world.
All nations will bow the knee and confess that Christ is Lord. The Glory of Christ resting on the Church will be visible to all men just as the Glory of God resting on the Tabernacle of the Congregation was visible to all men.
Lift up thine eyes round about, and see: all they gather themselves together, they come to thee: thy sons shall come from far, and thy daughters shall be nursed at thy side. (Isaiah 60:4)
The promise of the Father (Psalms Two) to Jesus is that if Jesus will ask Him the Father will give to Jesus the nations for His inheritance. Apparently Jesus indeed has asked the Father for the nations because here in Isaiah, Chapter 60 we find the nations coming to the Christian Church that they may be blessed with the Presence of God in Christ.
The overcoming Christians will share in the inheritance with Christ (“heirs of God and coheirs with Christ”—Romans 8:17) who is our older Brother. We shall possess the farthest reaches of the earth and the inhabitants thereof. Those who overcome shall inherit all things (Revelation 21:7) and sit with Christ in His throne (Revelation 3:21; Isaiah 60:12).
God’s inheritance is Christ—Head and Body (Isaiah 62:3). The inheritance of Christ, Head and Body, is, first of all, the Lord God Himself (Joshua 13:33); and second, the nations and the farthest reaches of the earth for a possession (Psalms 2:8).
God has chosen Zion (Christ—the Temple of God) as His eternal dwelling place. God has given all things to Christ—all authority and power in Heaven and on the earth. All belongs to Christ to rule over and to enjoy forever. Christ’s joy, because of the unfathomable love He has for her, is to share His dominion with His Bride.
Christ’s unlimited authority and power over all personages and kingdoms has been given to Him lawfully by the Father. Christ has fulfilled all righteousness. No one else can claim the throne of the universe, can dispute the right of Christ to His inheritance. It is His by Divine decree and without reservation.
Christ can share His inheritance with whomever He chooses. According to Scripture, Christ has chosen to share His inheritance with His Bride. The effect of His sharing His eternal Glory, authority, and power with His Church is described in Isaiah, Chapters 60-62, and in numerous other passages of the Scriptures.
Nations Bow Before the Church
Then thou shalt see, and flow together, and thine heart shall fear, and be enlarged; because the abundance of the sea shall be converted unto thee, the forces of the Gentiles shall come unto thee. (Isaiah 60:5)
When Christ appears, and the Church is glorified with His Person, the Church will “flow together.” At that time we Christians will experience exceedingly great joy because of the effect on the peoples of the earth when the stupendous Glory of God, the Creator of the galaxies, comes to rest on the Church (John 17:20-26).
Verses 6-10 of Isaiah, Chapter 60 refer to the physical wealth of the nations of the earth that will be brought to the Church by the rulers of the world in acknowledgment of the supremacy of the government of Christ.
Therefore thy gates shall be open continually; they shall not be shut day nor night; that men may bring unto thee the forces of the Gentiles, and that their kings may be brought. (Isaiah 60:11)
This concept is repeated in the New Testament:
And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. And the gates of it shall not be shut at all by day: for there shall be no night there. (Revelation 21:24,25)
Continuing in Isaiah:
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)
Christ is King over the heads of state. Woe to the rulers who resist the Ruler whom God has chosen!
The sons also of them that afflicted thee shall come bending unto thee; and all they that despised thee shall bow themselves down at the soles of thy feet; and they shall call thee; The city of the Lord, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 60:14)
The people of God, from the time of Abraham until now, have endured seasons of persecution at the hands of the rulers of the earth. All this will be changed at the appearing of Christ in the clouds of glory. The nations of the earth will be forced to acknowledge the supreme power of Christ who, at that time, will be coming with His saints to execute “the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God” (Revelation 19:15).
And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (II Thessalonians 1:8)
Christ and His brothers will rule over, bless, and teach the nations who submit to Him. They will judge and destroy out of the earth all who resist Christ. Christ, Head and Body, will rule with a rod of iron. There will be no area of compromise, no halfway measures. All sin and rebellion against Christ will be rooted out and destroyed.
For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch. (Malachi 4:1)
God has given to Christ the authority and power to rule the peoples of the earth. Actually it is God in Christ, and Christ in His Body, who will be governing God’s creation in mighty, irresistible power, wisdom, and compassion. Here is one of the reasons for the total Divine transformation of the saints (I John 3:3). The rule of men, even religious men, always is imperfect. The rule of God in Christ always is perfect.
Thy people also shall be all righteous: they shall inherit the land for ever, the branch of my planting, the work of my hands, that I may be glorified. (Isaiah 60:21)
Compare the above passage with the following:
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. (John 15:5)
The concept expressed in both Isaiah and John concerns the Vine that God has planted in the earth. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Vine and we Christians are the branches—the extension of Christ. We are “the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ephesians 1:23).
Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch. (Zechariah 3:8)
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: (Zechariah 6:12)
In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel. (Isaiah 4:2)
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry. (Isaiah 5:7)
He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit. (Isaiah 27:6)
And the continuation:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. (John 15:1,2)
The vine is one of the many types used by the Holy Spirit to describe the Presence of the Godhead that will be placed permanently among the nations of the earth. Other expressions referring to the same Presence are the Body of Christ, the Bride, the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, the sons of God, the new Jerusalem, Mount Zion, the Temple of God, the army of the Lord.
We must be careful not to overemphasize any of these symbolic expressions. For example, emphasizing the femininity of the Bride leads away from the truth. The symbol of the Bride emphasizes the spiritual union of the Godhead and the Christian, not the femininity of the believer.
Another error is to assume the various symbols represent divisions in the Church. Some suppose since the Bride is a feminine term and the sons of God is a masculine term they must be two separate groups of people. Such conclusions are not wholesome. They do not lead toward righteousness, holiness, obedience, or the adoration of God—the outcomes of all teaching that proceeds from the Holy Spirit.
There is only one Vine of God, one Israel, there never have been two. There is only one Seed of Abraham, there never have been two. There is only one called-out people of God, there never have been two. There is only one Church, there never have been and never shall be two.
The Holy Spirit came upon the prophets of old. The same Holy Spirit comes upon the ministry of the Christian Church.
The is but one Seed of Abraham, and that Seed is Christ and all who are in Christ. There cannot be two separate chosen nations, one after the flesh and another after the Spirit. There cannot be two brides of Christ.
The calling of God is by election and faith and has nothing to do with religious works of the flesh. This is the basis for much of Paul’s teaching in Romans.
There is but one Holy Spirit of God. The prophets of the new covenant are a continuation of the prophets of the Hebrews. They all speak by the same Spirit, the difference being that new-covenant people have been born again. No person ever was born again before Jesus rose from the dead because the Lord Jesus is the Firstborn from the dead.
The teaching that there are two churches, one Jewish and one Christian, is incorrect. Such teaching destroys the continuity of Scripture and of the plan of salvation. The fact is, we Christians have been grafted on the true vine—Israel.
And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. (Romans 11:17,18)
God has been dealing with the Gentiles for such a long period of time that we believe we are supporting the root.
The Gospel of Christ is always to the Jew first, for they were, are, and will continue to be God’s chosen people as far as race is concerned. They are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs of Old Testament times. God has never forgotten Moses, Daniel, Elijah, David, or any other of His friends and servants.
The new covenant began among the Jews. The Old and New Testaments were written by Jews. It would be well for us Gentiles, many of whom are descended from European tribes who still were savages in the second and third centuries A.D., to meditate on the degree of refinement possessed by the Jews during the reign of Solomon.
Salvation was of the Jews when we Gentiles were still “wild dogs.” Yet, the dogs can eat the crumbs that fall from the children’s table. Our pride may find these facts difficult to accept, but they are facts nonetheless.
The Church and the Kingdom of God originated among the Jews, were developed among the Jews, and will attain maturity among the Jews.
The Apostle Paul employs the term, “the fulness of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:15), stating that a hardening has occurred among some of the Jews until the full number of the elect Gentiles have been gathered by the Lord.
God has called a specific number of Gentiles to be part of His Church, His Bride, His eternal Israel. As soon as the elect Gentiles have “come in,” the blindness will be lifted from the Jews and the whole nation will be saved.
Joseph and his Egyptian wife (Asenath—Genesis 41:50) are a type of Christ and the part of His Body that has come from Gentile stock (once in Christ, however, there is no more Jew or Gentile).
It is remarkable that the mother of Manasseh and Ephraim was the daughter of a heathen priest. The grandfather of Manasseh and Ephraim was Potiphera, an Egyptian priest.
The story of Joseph and his family is one of the major Bible types. The portrayal reveals that just before the tribulation period (Manasseh and Ephraim were born before the famine) there will be born of Christ and the Gentile portion of His Body, forgetting (Manasseh) and fruitfulness (Ephraim).
The number two in Scripture is symbolic of the power of God Almighty. There will be two witnesses who prepare the way of the Lord (Revelation, Chapter 11). The glory of the Kingdom of Christ will be poured on the Church before the Lord’s return. This glory will enable the saints to forget the afflictions they have endured throughout their period of preparation. The faithful in Christ will enjoy at that time an unbounded fruitfulness in God in the place where they have known affliction.
In His time, God will remove the blindness from His chosen people, physical Israel. Israel will be protected and nourished by Christ and His Body during the tribulation, as we understand the Word at this time. Antichrist will be given authority for a brief season so the saints of God can be purified and made ready for Christ’s glorious appearing. We Christians are not concerned about Antichrist nor are we afraid of him. We care only for the power and Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The testimony of the saints will be overcome for a short time. Then, with a shout and the voice of the Archangel, the Beloved of Israel will appear in the clouds of the heaven. The Jews will see Him whom they pierced. They will receive their Savior, the beloved Son of David. Christ will take away their sin and sorrow and set up His Kingdom on the earth. His body of saints will be with Him at His appearing and the setting up of His Kingdom.
There will be added to the Body of Christ multitudes of Jewish believers, just as there were numerous Jewish believers in the first century. The Church began as Israel and will come to maturity as Israel. It always has been Zion and it always will be Zion—the city of God.
We Gentiles have been accepted of the Father, being called His people when we were not a people. We were nothing until God called us by His grace in Christ. Now we have been grafted on the true Vine, Israel. In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free citizen. We are all one in Christ. We are His Body, the new Jerusalem, the holy city that shall govern the creation to the ages of unnumbered ages.
In the fullness of God’s time the elect Jews will be brought into the Christian Church and built on the same foundation as we. Christ cannot be divided. No person, Jew or Gentile, can enter the Kingdom of God other than by being born again of the one Divine Seed.
This does not mean the Jew is required to leave the traditions of his fathers, as some churches have taught in time past.
There is only one Christ, one faith, one Lord, one baptism, one Holy Spirit, one Body of Christ, one Servant of the Lord.
The role that the city of Jerusalem will play in God’s plan for the near future, and the circumstances surrounding any rebuilding of Herod’s Temple, are not known to us. The spiritual basis for such material circumstances is as we have stated: the salvation of the full number of elect Gentiles; the revival of Kingdom power; the awakening and preserving of the Jews during the days of trouble that are ahead; and the coming to maturity of Christ in a firstfruits of His Bride.
It is these spiritual facts that are important. The outward activities, such as the events in the land of Israel and the rebuilding of the Temple, will occur as God has planned. Our part is to attend with utmost diligence to our personal relationship with the Lord Jesus so we can fulfill our individual service to the Lord in the present hour.
There is a temple of supreme spiritual significance and it is in the process of construction now. We are referring to the Body of Christ, the Christian Church. It is concerning the one Church that Isaiah was prophesying:
For the nation and kingdom that will not serve thee shall perish; yea, those nations shall be utterly wasted. (Isaiah 60:12)
A portion of the Book of Isaiah is devoted to the revelation of the grandeur and service of the Christian Church during the Kingdom Age and during the new heaven and earth reign of Christ (Chapters 60-63, for example).
God will establish His Kingdom on the earth. The nations of the saved will live on the redeemed earth. The Tabernacle of the Congregation, containing the Holy and Most Holy Places, portrays the Body of Christ that will be located on the new earth. God and Jesus will dwell forever in the Body of Christ, the new Jerusalem, and from this city will rule throughout eternity over the inhabitants of the earth.
And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the Glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof. And the nations of them which are saved shall walk in the light of it: and the kings of the earth do bring their glory and honour into it. (Revelation 21:23,24)
The above passage describes the fulfillment of the pattern shown to mankind in the Tabernacle of the Congregation. Jesus referred to the time when the Christian Church will govern the world:
Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. (Matthew 5:14)
The light of the world! With this in mind we can understand Isaiah:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. (Isaiah 2:2)
The Manifestation of the Sons of God
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6,7)
No matter how desirous we may become that God’s Kingdom be set up in the earth, we must remember that it is God’s work and He continues to be more zealous than we that His will be fulfilled.
Sometimes the wisest action we can take is to wait on God for His wisdom and strength. Although He works slowly at times (or so it seems to us) He has not forgotten His work in the earth. We can rest in Him and be assured that His zeal will bring about the reign of Christ.
This does not mean we are to fall into the trap of passivity and fatalism. It does signify, however, that we must pay more attention to learning the lessons of holiness and obedience that the Holy Spirit is teaching us, and then trust that God is keeping His part of the covenant. There is a part for God and then there is a part for us. The error of disinterest in spiritual matters is as harmful as the error of fleshly enterprise. The one is neglect and the other is presumption.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain [the “holy mountain” of the Lord is Zion, the Body of Christ]: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)
The preceding verse is referring to the Glory of God that will be revealed at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that destroys will be judged and driven out of the earth. This is the sentence of God and it certainly shall come to pass.
The result will be the flooding of the earth with the Presence of Christ. This will be the answer to the prayer, “Your kingdom come. Your will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
I have commanded my sanctified ones, I have also called my mighty ones for mine anger, even them that rejoice in my highness. The noise of a multitude in the mountains, like as of a great people; a tumultuous noise of the kingdoms of nations gathered together: the Lord of hosts mustereth the host of the battle. They come from a far country, from the end of Heaven, even the Lord, and the weapons of his indignation, to destroy the whole land. (Isaiah 13:3-5)
And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Revelation 19:19)
Isaiah 13:3-5 (above) is referring to the revealing of the sons of God, which will occur at the return of Christ from Heaven.
For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. (Romans 8:19)
The sons of God (Body of Christ) will judge Satan and his army of helpers and cast them out of the earth. In the process, the political governments on the earth will be brought down and the Kingdom of God will take their place. The land will be made desolate and the sinners will be destroyed out of it, at the appearing of the sons of God.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. (Isaiah 13:9)
From the standpoint of the members of the Body of Christ, the saints of the Lord, the Kingdom Age will not come solely as an external event in time and space—an event unrelated to the spiritual development of the Church. Rather, the Kingdom Age will be brought forth in conjunction with, and will be made possible by, the development of overcoming strength in the personalities of the saints.
God is bringing His people to the point where death itself can be cast from the physical body. When the critical point in the development of the saints has been attained, and not before, the Lord Jesus will return. This is the first resurrection from the dead (Psalms 102:16).
At that time the world of nature, the material creation, will be cleansed by the fire of the judgment that will be administered through the sons of God. This judgment marks the beginning of the fulfillment of the promises of the Prophets concerning the preeminence of Israel (Christ and those who are of Him) over the other nations of the earth.
The actual beginning of the fulfillment of the Hebrew Prophets was the manifestation of the Son of God, Christ. The first appearance of Christ was a foreshadowing of what is to come when He reappears at the head of His army.
The seventh, or last trumpet will sound at this time. The blast of the seventh trumpet is the historical, kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Trumpet of Jubilee. The seven trumpets of Revelation are the kingdom-wide fulfillment of the Levitical feast of the blowing of Trumpets (Leviticus 23:24).
The Trumpet of Jubilee
Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubile to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month [Day of Atonement], in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. (Leviticus 25:9)
Those who have thought about the meaning of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) will realize the significance of the fact that the Trumpet of Jubilee was blown on that very day. The confession of sin and the cleansing of sin from us, which are part of the spiritual fulfillment of the Day of Atonement, brings release.
And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubile unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family. (Leviticus 25:10)
The number fifty symbolizes Pentecost—the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Observe that while the Day of the Lord is a time of fierce judgment and of destruction of the power of Satan, it also is a time of returning and release for Israel. The seventh trumpet heralds the New Year celebration—a new year in which God comes to dwell in the earth in and with His saints.
The saints are God’s Kingdom and through them God will reign forever over the nations of the earth. The concept of the manifestation of the sons of God is found in many passages of the Scriptures and is related to the Day of the Lord—the second coming of Christ to the earth.
And in this mountain [Zion, the Body of Christ, the Christian Church] shall the Lord of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined. (Isaiah 25:6)
Is it any wonder that the creation is waiting expectantly for the manifestation of the sons of God? Their revelation indeed will be the “Jubilee” for all who love God and His ways.
But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)
Continuing in Isaiah:
And he will destroy in this mountain [the Body of Christ] the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations [the veil that hides God from men, the veil that was hung because of sin—see Genesis 4:14].
He will swallow up death in victory [the spiritual victory wrought in the development of the ever-increasing faith of the victorious Christians—faith in Christ and in the blood atonement made by Christ];
And the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the Lord hath spoken it. (Isaiah 25:7,8)
Isaiah was not the only prophet who announced the setting up of the Kingdom of God on the earth and the revealing of the sons of God.
At that time [the coming of Christ] they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart. (Jeremiah 3:17)
Ezekiel tells of the Jubilee:
So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. (Ezekiel 37:10)
This is Israel restored and triumphant, the Body of Christ, the unveiled sons of God. The Church is shown here as an army because of the work of judgment that must be performed on evil spirits if the people of God are to enter their inheritance.
Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts. Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord. (Ezekiel 37:11-14)
Consider the sovereign working of God in salvation! The army of the Lord, the restoration of Israel, and the resurrection from the dead go together in context when the prophet speaks. They are related events.
The Concept of Resurrection
The preceding passage from Ezekiel aids our understanding of the scriptural concept of the resurrection from the dead. It is difficult for Christians to understand the resurrection because our tradition is often inaccurate. Our traditional view of the resurrection is confused with the ascension and has us flying off to Heaven into a future existence not described in the Scriptures.
The resurrection from the dead, at least in the case of the righteous dead, seems to have more to do with the earth than it does with Heaven. People are raised from the dead, brought up out of their graves, so their personalities may be reunited with their bodies.
One aspect of the return to life on the earth is that of providing the Jews with their own nation. God will be the God of all of His elect, Jewish and Gentile, and be with us and in us, and we shall see His Face and enjoy His Presence and the fullness of blessing forever. The Lord Jesus, the greater Son of David, will be King over all Israel. Upon being resurrected we all shall return to the land of Israel.
The earthly purpose of the resurrection is set forth as follows:
Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. (Ezekiel 37:12)
“And bring you into the land of Israel.”
The work and the program are the Lord’s. Our part is to pray and be strictly obedient to the Lord Jesus Christ in all matters, great and small.
The bringing together of the “dry bones” of Ezekiel, Chapter 37 is a prophetic vision portraying the maturing and unifying of the Body of Christ that will take place in connection with the return of the Lord Jesus to the earth. The reconstituted dry bones are identical with Joel’s “army,” Habakkuk’s “troops,” and the “army” of Revelation, Chapter 19.
They are the “sons of God,” of Romans 8:14. The Scriptures are one. The end-time army is one. Israel is one. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one Lord Jesus Christ, one King of kings and Lord of lords, one Lamb of God, one Holy Spirit, one God and Father who is above all and through all and in us all.
There is but one holy city, one Bride of the Lamb, one atoning blood. “It shall be one tabernacle” (Exodus 26:6).
Whether we read about them in the old covenant or the new covenant, the Seed of Abraham and the accompanying blessings from God are ONE!
Ezekiel 37:15-24 emphasizes the oneness of the people of God; and then we find:
My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore. (Ezekiel 37:27,28) (Compare John 17:23; Revelation 21,22)
Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48 is a description of the Temple of God, the Body of Christ, in particular the elements of redemption that are woven into the personality of the believer. As is true of other allegorical prophecies, the futuristic fulfillment is woven into a natural setting that was understandable to the people who were alive at the giving of the prophecy. The futuristic fulfillment becomes discernible after a period of time. It rises to the surface after the immediate interpretation has been worked out during the course of history.
There are many examples in the writings of the Prophets of this kind of double, or multiple interpretation. One example may be found in Ezekiel, Chapter 28. Here we find a judgment pronounced against the commercial center of Tyre. Tyre did suffer! First at the hands of Nebuchadnezzar; then from the might of Alexander the Great; and finally under the Crusaders.
Yet, we may notice that the Holy Spirit in Ezekiel has gone far beyond the king of the earthly city of Tyre and is addressing Satan himself.
Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the Beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created. Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. (Ezekiel 28:13,14)
Again, we find a double reference:
And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. (II Samuel 7:12,13)
The immediate application of this promise was to King Solomon. Yet, the most important interpretation concerns the Lord Jesus Christ. Solomon and Jesus were alike in some respects and totally different in others. The Hebrews at the time of David would have applied the prophecy to Solomon, although the burden was directed toward the Lord Jesus.
Ezekiel, Chapters 40-48 describes the Temple of God. No doubt the Jews understood Ezekiel to mean Solomon’s Temple would be restored. But the setting and content of these chapters lead us to believe the primary significance of Ezekiel’s Temple may be its application to the Body of Christ, the Christian Church.
The setting is this: Chapter 40 comes after the “dry bones” of Chapter 37. Here is the sequence leading up to the temple:
The maturing and unifying of the Church—Ezekiel 37:1-28 War against the saints—38:1-99 through 39:20. Notice, for example:
And thou shalt come up against My people of Israel, as a cloud to cover the land; it shall be in the latter days, and I will bring thee against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in thee, O Gog, before their eyes. (Ezekiel 38:16)
The establishing of the Kingdom of God in the earth—39:21-19.
When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; (Ezekiel 39:27) (Compare John 17:23)
The Temple of God—40:1-488 through 48:35. Let us examine a few of the concepts outlined by the words that describe the vision of the temple.
And behold a wall on the outside of the house round about, and in the man’s hand a measuring reed of six cubits long by the cubit and an hand breadth: so he measured the breadth of the building, one reed; and the height, one reed. Then came he unto the gate which looketh toward the east, and went up the stairs thereof, and measured the threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad; and the other threshold of the gate, which was one reed broad. And every little [guard] chamber was one reed long, and one reed broad; and between the little chambers were five cubits; and the threshold of the gate by the porch of the gate within was one reed. (Ezekiel 40:5-7)
The many detailed measurements emphasize the painstaking work that God performs on His saints. Their every motive, word, thought, deed is examined all day long. God’s dimensions are expressed in a sovereign, precise manner.
Do not become impatient with God. If His hand is on you, and you are being reproved continually by Him, be thankful and realize He has called you to a position of responsibility in His Kingdom. He is careful about shaping you, working with you, and fitting you into the Body of Christ.
Take comfort in Psalms 73. Every Christian has a specific task in the Body of Christ. It is not enough that every Christian contribute or participate. The contribution and participation of each member of the Body must be in accordance with the express will and design of the Holy Spirit of God. It is God’s Temple.
Many of us do not understand what our specific contribution or participation should be. We do understand, from Ezekiel’s Temple, that God has a design in mind. But we must wait on the Holy Spirit in order to be brought more fully into God’s plan for our life.
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (I Timothy 4:14)
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (I Corinthians 12:7)
But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (I Corinthians 12:11)
But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. (I Corinthians 12:18)
And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (I Corinthians 12:28)
Every Christian is assigned by the Holy Spirit a set of gifts. The gifts of the believer, when blended with his unique personality and empowered and administered by Christ’s working with and in him, constitutes the Christian’s place and ministry in the Body of Christ.
We believe Ezekiel’s Temple is the Body of Christ. The language may be too strong to be referring to a manmade structure.
And he said unto me, Son of man, the place of my throne, and the place of the soles of my feet, where I will dwell in the midst of the children of Israel for ever, and my holy name, shall the house of Israel no more defile, neither they, nor their kings, by their whoredom, nor by the carcases of their kings in their high places. (Ezekiel 43:7)
We have an advantage over the Hebrews of Ezekiel’s day when interpreting the spiritual utterances of the prophets. Our advantage proceeds from our knowledge of the Lord Jesus. Whenever we come to passages referring to the “throne” of God, the “temple” of God, the “habitation” of God, we are able to see how these expressions are fulfilled in Christ and in the Body of Christ.
The Lord Jesus Christ is the Throne of God, the habitation of God. God dwells in His fullness in Christ. There is no temple of God other than Christ.
Heaven is God’s throne and the earth is God’s footstool. Christ brings together Heaven and earth in Himself. Christ is Jacob’s ladder. Christ is the Presence of God in Heaven and on earth at the same time.
All of the fullness of God the Father dwells in His holy habitation—the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not to say that Christ is the Father or is another name for the Father. It that were true, much of what Jesus said on earth would not admit to an unforced interpretation.
The writer’s understanding of the Scriptures’ declarations concerning the spiritual Temple of God is that the Father dwells in Christ and Christ dwells in us; that we are the Body of Christ, the fullness of Him (Christ) who fills all in all; that God in Christ is in us, and we are in God through Christ.
Another concept suggested by the verses that describe Ezekiel’s Temple is that of holiness.
This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house. (Ezekiel 43:12)
One may find the same emphasis on holiness in Revelation, Chapters 21 and 22. We believe the holy Jerusalem is the highest fulfillment of the Temple of Ezekiel.
Holiness is emphasized in the following passages:
And there shall in no wise enter it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Revelation 21:27)
For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whoever loveth and maketh a lie. (Revelation 22:15)
Compare the following two verses:
And he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and shewed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God, (Revelation 21:10)
In the visions of God brought he me into the land of Israel, and set me upon a very high mountain, by which was as the frame of a city on the south. (Ezekiel 40:2)
Revelation 21:22 states that there is no temple in the new Jerusalem. The entire city is the Tabernacle of God, the Lamb’s Wife. God has rejected the elaborate Temple of Solomon in favor of His original Tabernacle of the Congregation. Perhaps it is closer to His heart!
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. (Revelation 21:3)
The “tabernacle” is the holy city, the Bride of the Lamb.
(“The Old Testament House of the Lord: Eighteen”, 3683-1)